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This Frenchman turns air into drinking water in arid countries

Two-thirds of the world's inhabitants have difficulty accessing drinking water. Michel Poyet has invented Eauxygen: a machine designed to change their lives. Interview with the man who wants to re-hydrate lives.

For the past ten years, a handful of inventors scattered around the world have been looking for solutions to "manufacture" drinking water at a lower cost in order to bring it to the most arid countries. With Eauxygen, the Frenchman Michel Poyet, director of Water World Solution, has found it! His machine sucks the water available in the air, purifies it and makes it drinkable.

How did you come up with the idea of Eauxygen?

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, there was a fear that terrorists would want to pollute the water supply in France. In response to the threat, I imagined a decondensation system: to recover water from the air. I started from the principle of dehumidifiers but I worked hard to make this drinking water affordable at a low energy cost and with a short cooling time. With a dehumidifier, it would be between 10 and 15 euros per liter for comparison.

When was the first prototype made?

I finished the first one in 2003 and tried to have it produced in China. A big mistake: out of 1000 machines, 999 had a breakdown! When I started looking for financing in Europe in 2006, nobody was really interested, they thought I was crazy. Today, after many rocky episodes, the machine exists for good. In fact, there are two of them. The domestic version, Eauxygen One, can produce 10 to 15 liters of water per day and costs about 2,500 euros; the industrial version, Eauxygen Two, can generate between 1,000 and 3,000 liters daily.

By combining several machines, we can even reach 10,000 liters. The Saudis have asked us to produce a machine with this capacity. It will be unique and will be 70 meters long!

In fact, these are machines intended for export, aren't they?

Our machines concern the populations living in a band that extends 4,000 kilometers above and below the Equator. This area covers Africa, India, China, Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, part of the United States... That is 2.5 billion people suffering from difficulties in accessing drinking water. The reason is simple: almost all the water tables are dry or polluted. Before the war in Libya, the local government was interested. This is a typical example: one of the biggest aquifers with a great water quality extends under Tunisia and Algeria. Unfortunately, they did not maintain the pipelines. As a result, this water is saturated with oil and it is irreversible. And there are similar situations all over the world.

Concretely, how does your machine work?

A thermal shock is created between a hot and humid air which will meet a cold evaporator, around seven degrees. The recovered water vapor is then transformed into liquid, filtered, cooled or heated and becomes consumable. For a cubic meter of air sucked in, with a hygrometry rate of 60%, we will recover between 10 and 22 grams of water. This is very low. So we have to suck in a lot. People sometimes say to us: "But you will dry the air? Of course not! All the water consumed is redistributed in the air. The only real risk, in the long term, is that the oceans and seas will dry up.

2.5 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water because groundwater is polluted

And it is a machine entirely made in France today?

Eauxygen Two machines are available and manufactured in Brittany. We answer to all the requests everywhere in the world. Our challenge now is to produce Eauxygen One (the domestic version which costs about 2 500 euros) in France too, on an industrial scale. This is in progress! Our objective is of course to live from it, but we also want to create a machine with zero energy consumption that we will install in villages and schools in some countries so that they can create vegetable gardens, etc. For us, this is just as important.


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