Zero-Energy Atmospheric Water Generator – 2012

VENA’s second incarnation addresses two initial design flaws of VENA 1.0: 1.) relying on ambient wind as a source to atmospheric water resulting in small amounts of water per day and limited scalability, and 2.) needing a conductive copper alloy core to span above and below ground temperatures.  This core, being of an expensive alloy may be a target for theft in remote areas.

Thomas and the VENA team responded with the VENA 2.0 design.  To remove the bottleneck in water production via ambient wind we adapted an existing technology called a solar updraft tower to generate wind and bring large amounts of air below-ground to directly contact cooler temperatures, solving both weaknesses.

The 2.0  is the first large-scale atmospheric water generator that is entirely powered with passive energy.  Using the sun’s heat as a power source and the ground as a condenser VENA generates water in locations that have limited or polluted natural sources.

VENA leverages the earth’s constant cool temperatures to create a stable, scalable, passive source of water. For powering small components of the system, VENA can be paired with solar energy, wind power, or an electricity grid depending on what is available. For this reason, VENA can be installed anywhere and operate 365 days a year, regardless of the weather.

Solar heat energy is captured underneath a large canopy of greenhouse film. Air, warmed by the sun’s heat rises and converges at a central updraft tower, creating a large, fast current of air. This current of air acts as a power source driving VENA’s required air intake.

Like a drinking straw, the updraft tower pulls ambient air through the system and a series of air filters at intake, shedding particulates as it is drawn through heat exchangers tied to geothermal cooling loops. The ambient air is cooled by the heat exchangers to the dew point. At this stage, the ambient air becomes saturated to 100% humidity, transforming into a fog state. As fog, the ambient air enters the condensation chamber and encounters earth-cooled surfaces with super hydrophobic/hydrophilic coatings to help condense the water. The latent heat generated at this phase-change is rejected to the soil surrounding the condensation chamber. The water is collected and pumped to the surface for storage where it is filtered and exposed to Ultra-violet light to ensure potability.

Using passive energy sources, heat from the sun to generate pumping pressure and electricity, geothermal cooling to condense water, VENA operates 100% off the grid 365 days a year.

Availability of drinking water is a prominent global issue. Population growth, climate change and associated desertification will continue to increase the severity of water shortage. WHO/UNICEF estimates that by 2050, 4 billion people around the world will suffer from a chronic lack of potable water. These problems will have disastrous consequences for the health of affected populations and in some areas may lead to significant social upheaval. In addition to current methods of water production, VENA provides an alternative source of previously untapped water with large-scale access while maintaining a much lower cost of operation than desalination, current atmospheric water generators, and dew-capture technology. VENA’s technology creates potable water at a quarter of the price of competitors. Additionally, VENA has the potential to create passive energy and arable land, allowing for formerly infertile earth to produce crops.





The inspiration to use ground temperature as a means to generate rain (dew point condensation) came from research the technology’s inventor, Thomas Kosbau, had been doing on fog nets.  The Chungungo Chile fog net project in  the early 1990’s was biomimetically copying the Copao cactus’ ability to capture air-born dew, but there were inherent maintenance issues due to the remote locations where fog naturally and consistently occurs.  Thomas set out to design a better fog capturing Cactus and VENA 1.0 was born.

Inhabitants of arid regions as well as those in over-populated urban areas that lack a sustainable water source constitute the core beneficiaries of this new technology. VENA not only has the immediate effect of providing drinking water, but also takes stress off of depleted aquifers and allows them to recharge naturally.

VENA is designed to be geographically flexible.  VENA does not need to be near the ocean like desalination, or near a large electrical power source like current Atmospheric Water Generator technology. In fact, VENA functions best in areas that seem arid and dry (middle-east, Saharan Africa, Southern California, etc.), areas which actually have large amounts of water floating above them at all times. VENA leverages the hot air temperature above ground and cool earth temperature to do what the local climate and geography cannot: RAIN.

For more information about the 2.0 version of VENA please follow this link.