Atmospheric Water Harvesting

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Atmospheric water harvesting refers to the process of capturing and condensing water vapor present in the air to produce liquid freshwater. This technology utilizes various methods to extract moisture from the atmosphere, even in regions with low humidity, providing a source of water that is independent of traditional sources like rivers, lakes, or aquifers.

Impact on climate action

Atmospheric Water Harvesting enhances water use efficiency by extracting moisture from the air, mitigating reliance on conventional water sources. This innovation reduces pressure on water-stressed regions, fostering sustainable practices. By curbing water scarcity, it bolsters climate action by alleviating stress on ecosystems and enhancing resilience in the face of climate change.


  • Condensation: The fundamental principle of AWH is condensation, where water vapor is cooled below its dew point, causing it to transition from a gaseous state to liquid water.
  • Desiccant Materials: Certain materials, like silica gel or zeolites, have a high affinity for absorbing water vapor. These desiccant materials can be used to capture moisture from the air, which is then released through heating or other methods.
  • Cooling Systems: Refrigeration or cooling systems can be used to lower the temperature of air below its dew point, causing water vapor to condense on a cold surface.
  • Fog Nets: In foggy environments, large mesh nets can be used to capture water droplets from fog, collecting them in troughs for use.

TRL : 6-7 for many technologies, with some reaching TRL 8-9 for specific applications.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Solar-Powered AWH Systems: Integrating AWH systems with solar panels can provide a sustainable and off-grid solution for water production, making them particularly suitable for remote locations or disaster relief situations.
  • Hygroscopic Materials: Research is ongoing to develop new hygroscopic materials with even higher water absorption capacity, enabling more efficient water extraction from the air.
  • Electrostatic Water Harvesting: Emerging technologies utilize electrostatic fields to attract and collect water droplets from the air, potentially improving efficiency and reducing energy consumption.
  • Water-From-Air Generators: These devices, often powered by electricity, combine cooling and condensation techniques to produce drinking water directly from the air.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Condensation-Based Water Generation
  • Desiccant-Based Moisture Capture
  • Fog Collection Technology
  • Solar-Powered Atmospheric Water Harvesting
  • Advanced Hygroscopic Materials
  • Water-from-Air Generator Development
  • Disaster Relief Water Technologies
  • Arid Region Water Augmentation Strategies
  • Sustainable Water Sourcing from Air
  • High-Efficiency Water Vapor Condensation
  • Next-Generation Atmospheric Moisture Harvesting
  • Energy-Efficient Water Condensation Systems

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Uravu Labs:
    • Technology Focus: Uravu Labs specializes in atmospheric water harvesting technology, which involves extracting water from the air using innovative techniques such as condensation and humidity absorption.
    • Uniqueness: Their technology may stand out for its efficiency, scalability, or affordability compared to traditional water harvesting methods. They might also focus on sustainable solutions that minimize energy consumption and environmental impact.
    • End-User Segments: Uravu Labs likely targets regions or industries facing water scarcity, including arid and semi-arid areas, disaster relief efforts, agriculture, and remote communities where access to clean water is limited.
  • Eole Water:
    • Technology Focus: Eole Water specializes in wind turbine-based atmospheric water generators (AWGs) that utilize wind power to condense moisture from the air and produce potable water.
    • Uniqueness: Their integration of wind energy with water harvesting distinguishes them in the market, offering off-grid solutions for water production in remote or off-grid locations.
    • End-User Segments: Eole Water’s solutions are likely targeted at areas with high humidity and wind resources, such as coastal regions, islands, and remote communities without access to reliable water infrastructure.
  • Watergen:
    • Technology Focus: Watergen is known for its GENius water generators, which utilize patented atmospheric water generation technology to produce clean drinking water from the air.
    • Uniqueness: Watergen’s technology is often praised for its high efficiency and ability to operate in various climatic conditions, including arid environments. Their solutions may also incorporate smart features for remote monitoring and management.
    • End-User Segments: Watergen serves a diverse range of end-users, including governments, disaster relief organizations, commercial enterprises, and residential communities worldwide, where access to clean drinking water is a challenge.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are exploring advanced materials and technologies for atmospheric water harvesting. They are developing novel surfaces with enhanced water vapor condensation properties, as well as efficient collection and purification systems.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves the integration of nanotechnology and biomimicry to design surfaces that mimic the natural water condensation processes found in plants and insects. This biomimetic approach enables the creation of highly efficient and scalable atmospheric water harvesting systems.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has implications for various applications, including water supply in arid and remote regions, disaster relief operations, and sustainable agriculture. By harnessing atmospheric water vapor, communities can reduce their dependence on traditional water sources and mitigate water scarcity challenges.
  • University of California, Berkeley:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at UC Berkeley are focusing on developing low-cost and energy-efficient atmospheric water harvesting technologies suitable for decentralized applications. They are exploring innovative materials and device architectures to maximize water vapor capture and conversion rates.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Berkeley’s research emphasizes the development of community-based atmospheric water harvesting systems that can be easily deployed and maintained. They are also investigating the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, to drive the atmospheric water harvesting process.
    • End-use Applications: The atmospheric water harvesting technologies developed at UC Berkeley have potential applications in off-grid communities, rural areas, and urban settings facing water scarcity challenges. These systems can provide a reliable and sustainable source of clean drinking water, especially in regions with limited access to traditional water infrastructure.
  • ETH Zurich:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at ETH Zurich are exploring advanced materials and engineering solutions for atmospheric water harvesting in alpine and mountainous regions. They are developing specialized collectors and condensation surfaces optimized for high-altitude environments.
    • Uniqueness of Research: ETH Zurich’s research addresses the unique challenges associated with atmospheric water harvesting in cold and mountainous regions, where conventional water sources may be scarce or inaccessible. They are also investigating the use of wind energy and natural convection for water vapor capture.
    • End-use Applications: The research at ETH Zurich has implications for mountain communities, ski resorts, and alpine expeditions where access to clean water can be limited. By harnessing atmospheric moisture, these communities can enhance their water resilience and sustainability, particularly during periods of drought or extreme weather events.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Atmospheric water harvesting technologies are being commercially implemented in various settings. Smaller-scale AWH devices are being used in homes, offices, and other buildings to provide a supplementary source of drinking water. Larger-scale systems are being deployed in remote communities, disaster relief areas, and industrial settings where access to freshwater is limited.