By Eddie Wrenn
PUBLISHED: 09:40 EST, 30 April 2012 | UPDATED: 09:56 EST, 30 April 2012
Wind turbines could also provide drinking water in humid climates following a breakthrough by a French engineering firm.
Eole Water modified your typical electricity-generating turbines to allow them to distill drinking water out of the air in a bid to help developing countries solve their water needs.
A prototype in Abu Dhabi already creates 62 litres of water an hour, and Eole hopes to sell turbines generating a thousand litres a day later this year.
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Thibault Janin, director of marketing at Eole Water, said: ‘This technology could enable rural areas to become self-sufficient in terms of water supply.
‘As the design and capabilities develop, the next step will be to create turbines that can provide water for small cities or areas with denser populations.’
The turbine works in the same way as the turbines currently seen dotting horizons around the world – and the electricity produced also helps power the water manufacturing process.
Air gets sucked into the nose of the turbine and is directed to a cooling compressor. The humidity is then extracted from the air and condensed and collected.
The water then travels down stainless steel pipes under the forces of gravity into a storage tank, where – with some filtering and purification – it is then ready to drink, wash, or cultivate with.
Mr Janin told CNN that one generator producing 1,000 litres a day is ‘enough to provide water for a village or town of 2,000 to 3,000 people’.
He said communities in Africa and South America, and remote islands in Asia with little access to safe drinking water, would be the types of communities who stood to benefit the most from the technology.
He added: ‘If you think of Indonesia, it has (thousands of) islands and they cannot centralize their water supply … the geographic makeup of the country makes it impossible.
‘This technique could enable them to overcome these problems and make the islands self-sufficient in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.’
But anyone ready to get their chequebook out should note the cost – around £400,000 per turbine. However Janin noted that prices would fall as economies of scale came into play.
He added: ‘We have just started the commercial aspect of this product but the price is not that expensive when you compare it with the long term solution that it gives.’
Eole Water said their priorities in the design were maximum water production, energy independence, low maintenance, logistical flexibility and no environmental impact.
The turbines have a life expectancy of 20 years.
Video: Water turbine in action