Ford doesn’t have a car yet that can run on water, but it does have one with running water.
A powertrain engineer working for the automaker has developed a system that uses the condensation from an automobile’s air conditioner to provide drinkable water.
Doug Martin got the idea for On-The-Go H20 when he drove by a billboard in Lima, Peru, fitted with similar technology that was extracting over 25 gallons of water from the air every day. It made him realize that a lot of potentially potable water generated by automobiles was being dumped on the road and wasted, when it could be put toward a good use.
It’s a simple concept optimized for this automotive application with a collector positioned near the air conditioner’s condenser that channels the fluid into a reservoir. From there, it’s filtered and pumped to a faucet located either in the cabin -- as it is in one demonstration vehicle Martin’s team put together – or on the outside of the vehicle.
The current system supplies about 24 ounces of water per hour from the atmosphere, but can also be used to purify dirty water from other sources -- even rain collected in channels on the roof. While the concept features a passive 1.2 micron filtration system, Martin is exploring the incorporation of a distiller powered by other powertrain heat sources, as well as ultraviolet light.
Ford sees it as a boon to dry regions and underdeveloped areas where millions of people don’t have regular access to clean water. It could also be offered as a feature on adventure vehicles, or simply as a convenience for road trips. (While we’re throwing around ideas, it might make a good compliment to a high performance water-injection system, too.)
Although there there are no current plans to put it into production, Martin says there’s been great interest in the technology from several of Ford’s centers around the world.
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