The technology was inaugurated by Asian Development Bank Vice-President Stephen Groff, Vanuatu’s Minister of Education Jean-Pierre Nirua and Benjamin Lim from Zero Mass Water.
The technology, called SOURCE Hydropanels and developed by the US-based ZMW, is an off-grid, solar-powered innovation which extracts vapor into a proprietary absorbent material and produces drinking water from sunlight and air. In 2017, ADB installed a number of these Hydropanels at its headquarters in Manila, Philippines to demonstrate the viability of this technology.
“The Government of Vanuatu appreciates the support of its partners, ADB and ZMW, in this truly remarkable pilot project,” said Mr. Nirua who led the commissioning ceremony. “This technology fills a critical gap in providing safe drinking water to the Petros school community and we hope this pilot may be extended beyond the education sector.”
While rainfall is plentiful and seasonal in Tanna, safe drinking water is not. Captured rainwater is regularly contaminated by sulfur dust from the very active nearby volcano, Mount Yasur. The collected water from the SOURCE Hydropanels flows into a reservoir where it is mineralized with calcium and magnesium for health and taste benefits, helping address the contamination issue. The technology also helps in environment preservation, with each Hydropanel displacing about 50,000 standard PET bottles.
“ADB, Zero Mass Water and the Government of Vanuatu worked in partnership to install 20 solar-powered drinking water units that convert moisture in the air into safe drinking water,” said Mr. Groff. “This project is an excellent example of innovation and technology delivering real benefits to people in places like Tanna.”
The commissioning of the technology is under the Unlocking Innovation for Development, which is supported by ADB through a technical assistance grant. The project, which began about 9 months ago and is being piloted at the Tanna school community, cost about $75,000 with the 20 Hydropanel array capable of producing up to 3000 liters of clean drinking water per month.
The pilot project is being closely monitored to determine its potential for further adoption by the private sector for resorts, businesses, and households; public sector; as well as other countries in the Pacific.
“We are proud to be a part of this landmark project, supported by the Government of Vanuatu and ADB, that has delivered a resilient, long-term and safe drinking water solution to the Petros Primary School community in Tanna, one of the most remote, vulnerable and infrastructure-challenged parts of the Pacific Islands” said Rob Bartrop, Zero Mass Water’s EVP of Global Business Development. “Our SOURCE Hydropanels are an innovative solution to two of the greatest challenges facing the Pacific Islands – reliable clean water infrastructure and the reduction of single use plastics”.
Photo Twitter/Stephen Groff. Caption: ADB Vice President Stephen Groff in Vanuatu