Solving water scarcity and protecting the environment are two of the important challenges facing our world right now, so any project that aids one of those causes is worth consideration.
If a project can help solve both problems, well, scientists should want to seriously consider the potential.
Air HES could make a positive impact on both causes. The project is the brain child of Russian engineer Andrei Khurshdov and derives from an idea similar to the PHOG Water project highlighted earlier on Care to Click that's the student-led research project that places mesh nets on the top of mountains, capturing water from clouds as they pass through the netting.
Khurshdov's idea uses a similar mesh fabric square, but instead of fastening them to mountains Khushdov attaches them to tethered helium balloons the size of blimps, allowing them to rise thousands of feet into the air to reach clouds.
Once in the sky, the mesh captures moisture from the clouds, which clings to its strands. Gravity then takes over, allowing the water to run down the tether into a collection unit.
Getting clean water from the sky seems like a good enough idea on its face. Khurshdov projects that his pilot program could produce 264 gallons of clean drinking water per day. But then Khurshdov takes the project a step further. He intends to attach a small turbine to the anchor unit. When the water runs down the tether it will pass through the turbine, causing it to spin, thereby generating electricity.
The prototype isn't expected to light up a city, but it should produce enough power to satisfy the daily needs of a single family home.
The program has some immediately noticeable issues to overcome. Allowing balloons to fly to such a height would have a negative impact on air traffic especially if the tethers are difficult to see. Floating a slew of balloons to collect water and produce power would be an eyesore for the community they serve. Storms could cause the balloons to crash or fly away. And this project wouldn't be nearly as effective in arid regions or during long dry spells.
Still, it seems like the idea has merit. Khurshdov is trying to raise money online to fund his prototype. Money raised in the U.S. will be sent to Khurshdov in Russia, so we can't endorse the transparency or say for sure that the money will be used as intended. We would like to see Khurshdov complete his prototype, though.
If Air HES does become useful to society the finished product will likely look much different than the prototype. Hey, that's what testing is for. If this project has a shot at helping to solve two major issues facing humanity it deserves a little leeway.
Those interested in helping end the water scarcity problem don't have to wait for the Air HES project to reach its potential before they can make a positive impact. Simply visit the Care To Click Water page and donate a free click or print useful coupons. At CareToClick.com your small actions prompt our donations to organizations working to end water scarcity.