Scientists from the Technological Institute of Israel and its partners in Africa have received an award for the development of a technology that creates water from heat, which aims to provide clean water to third world countries.
The winners of the Research Prize for Transformative Technologies for Africa of the Mauerberger Foundation Fund (MFF), recently created, are Professor Yehuda Agnon, Associate Professor Mark Talesnick and Associate Professor Guy Ramon.
Also, Leslie Petrick, from the University of the Western Cape of South Africa, and the University of Mekelle, from Ethiopia. In addition, three NGOs received the award: Technion’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB), FLOW from South Africa and Drop of Water from Ethiopia.
Scientists have developed a low-cost system powered by renewable energy to extract water from moisture in the air. The technology differs from other techniques that generate water from the air in which heat is converted into mechanical power in the form of an acoustic wave. This wave acts as a “virtual piston” capable of performing a cooling action.
The technology does not require electricity, since it only uses local heat.
Phase Exchange Thermoacoustics (PXT) technology developed by Technion researchers is, therefore, “a candidate for low-cost and small-scale conversion devices” for rural and developing areas, Ramon del Technion said.
“By combining the nanotechnologies developed at the University of Western Cape, with which moisture can be captured efficiently, and Technion PXT technology, we plan to develop a robust and low-cost system for the collection of atmospheric moisture, powered by renewable energy, ”he said. “Ultimately, the system will be tested in Ethiopia.”
The Mauerberger Foundation prize aims to strengthen academic ties and exchange of ideas between researchers from Israel and Africa to “take advantage of new technologies for the benefit of humanity.”
The prize, open to researchers from all Israeli universities, was awarded for the first time this year.
Water technology: the hope of the future
“Technology and high technology are wonderful things … Our grandfather, Morris Mauerberger, founded the prize to make technology available to people who do not normally enjoy it.”
That was reported by Jonathan Yach, a member of the fund’s board of directors, at the awards ceremony last month in Haifa.
“This is the first year that the prize is awarded, and this year we have focused on water. Water is a vital resource, and as biologist Sylvia Earl said, “There can be lifeless water, but there can be no life without water.”
The second prize winner was a group of researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Professors Yoram Oren, Zeev Ronen and Jack Gilron, researchers at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University, are developing advanced technology for the treatment of contaminated groundwater.
The set of membranes they are developing will help purify water from nitrates and chlorides. The technology will initially focus on contaminated wells in Ghana.