Waterseer is the device that promises to bring 11 gallons of clean drinking water to people that live in arid regions. You dig a hole in the ground, bury half of the device in, and let nature do it’s work. Soon you’ll get clean drinking water. It uses the principle of water condensation; the formation of droplets when hot and moist air contacts a cold surface. You can see this principle when you pull out a bottle of beer out of the fridge. You can also see it in nature in the formation of dew.
So, having said that, why won’t it work?
Waterseer’s thermodynamic problems.
When you bring out a bottle of beer out of the fridge, the water in the hot air condensates on the surface of the container. The heat has to go somewhere, and nature abhors a vacuum. Having said that, it’s also true that the heat of the air gets transferred to the bottle and the cold drink inside. In a similar principle, Waterseer dumps the heat of the air into the cool soil. If you do some thermodynamic calculations, you’ll quickly realize something. The soil in contact with the lower half of the contraption would warm up quicker than you could get even a single gallon out of the process. And once the soil is the same temperature as the air getting sucked in, condensation stops.
Waterseer’s climate problems.
To get water out of the air you need the air to have relatively high humidity. Most arid regions which don’t have clean drinking water also have low humidity. This makes it even more difficult for Waterseer to extract the moisture from the air. 100% humid air at 86 ºF and soil at 30 ºF, are ideal circumstances. You’d get only about 0.5 ounces of water per cubic yard of air pumped. At 50% humidity you’d get half that.
Despite all that, the most worrying thing is that this project was done by students of engineering at the the Sutardja Center at UC Berkley. The fact that that Thermodynamics 101 is taught at Berkley leaves us with two possibilities. Nuber one: Sutardja Center and the students that worked on this project are snake-oil salesmen. Number two: they have failed Thermodynamics 101 so hard that Berkley doesn’t deserve the “Number 13 in the World” rank they have.