Our online store is now selling complete sets of the printed and bound reports our Grand Turk water-from-air greenhouse project produced for CIDA. These peer-reviewed documents are an invaluable knowledge base about a practical method of improving water security and food security for the people living on and visiting small tropical islands.
Water security appears to be the subject of many search engine queries in North America. Although other countries do not appear on the regional interest list this does not indicate necessarily an absence of queries but rather a low volume of queries. Qualitatively, it seems that interest in water security has been fairly stable during the last year.
Food security was clearly of concern during the previous 12 months in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, and Australia as well as in North America and the UK. There appears to be a recent upsurge of interest in food security.
In the context of these regions, the WaterProducer-Greenhouse™ may be investigated as a possible water-plus-food-security solution for small tropical islands, with access to deep cold ocean water, associated with especially India (Lakshadweep, Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands), Australia (Coral Sea Islands), and USA (SE Florida, Florida Keys).
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has contracted with a joint venture of Matrix Enviro, Ltd. and Aqua-Chem, Inc. to build a new 300,000 US gallons per day reverse osmosis plant on Grand Turk. More information is available at:
Global Trends 2030 reinforces need for WaterProducer-Greenhouse™ Technology for #watersecurity and #foodsecurity
After 10 years of maintaining the infrastructure for the WaterProducer-Greenhouse™ project but with still no prospect of the first installation being funded and built, it is all too easy to become discouraged. Therefore, I was keen to see what the recently released Global Trends 2030, published by the National Intelligence Council (USA), would say that could be relevant to the project. I found this discussion on pages 93–94 of the report:
Water management will be critical to achieving
global food security because agriculture today
requires irrigation for 40 percent of its production
and consumes approximately 70 percent of global
freshwater supplies. Currently, agricultural irrigation
wastes about 60 percent of the water withdrawn from
Efficient water management will be required to sustain
a necessary increase in agricultural productivity.
Even though desalination technologies might be
economically feasible for household and industrial
water, such technologies are unlikely to produce
irrigation water from saline waters at a low enough
cost to be feasible for agricultural use. As water
scarcity increases, adopting technologies that increase
water-use efficiency will be the only option farmers
will have for confronting global water scarcity.
The array of such technologies includes precision
agriculture and GM drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant
crops as well as micro-irrigation systems and
hydroponic greenhouse technologies.
Efficient direct use of a 'new' source of water, the water vapour in the air, combined with commercial-scale hydroponic horticulture does appear to be a worthwhile technological option for tropical small islands.
Roland Wahlgren, BSc MA, is a Physical Geographer and owner/President of Canadian Dew Technologies Inc. (CDTI, www.candew.ca). He has researched water-from-air technologies since 1984. Peer-reviewed publications in the water-from-air field include Atmospheric Water Vapour Processing, Waterlines, Practical Action Publishing (1993); Atmospheric Water Vapour Processor Designs for Potable Water Production: A Review, Water Research, Elsevier Science Ltd. (2001); and Water-Producing Greenhouses for Small Tropical Islands: Ahead of Their Time or a Timely Solution?, Acta Hort. 797, ISHS 2008, (2008). CDTI, founded in 2003, has performed research and development work for client companies interested in commercializing water-from-air technologies. The R & D work included building prototypes of 20 L per day and 2500 L per day machines. The 2500 L per day machines were commercialized. CDTI commissioned, on behalf of its client, two 2500 L per day machines in Belize City in 2006. As Principal of Atmoswater Research (www.atmoswater.com; founded 1997), Roland Wahlgren was the scientific/technical consultant to the CIDA-supported Grand Turk Water-producing Greenhouse Viability Study from 2001 to 2003. He performed the role of project manager for the CIDA project. He has persisted in fund-raising efforts and maintained the project website for several years. He completed recently a major revision of the website.
Establishing the proposed business requires USD 5.6 million. Candidate crops include tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, beans, herbs, lettuces, and strawberries. Cut flowers such as chrysanthemums and Asiatic lilies may be grown. The greenhouse can fill demand for a population of 3500 for the listed produce. Revenue would be derived from sales of vegetables/fruit (25%) and bottled /piped water (75%). More details are in the Executive Summary.
Test borehole budget
A test-borehole budget ($480,000), includes selected start-up requirements, selected construction administration and selected site improvements. These selected line items are oriented around the test borehole activity. The results from drilling the test borehole comprise a “go / no-go” decision point. The decision to bring the project to scale will be made if the test borehole results show that natural coolant in the form of saline groundwater (15 °C to 17 °C) is available with a high enough flow rate to operate the dehumidification process in the water-producing greenhouse.
Disclaimer: Financial values are illustrative only, and are subject to change with material and labour costs, land costs, and financing arrangements.
Long-term viability of the water-producing greenhouse system results from the project strategy of addressing the basic human needs for food and water. Both food and water are scarce on numerous tropical small islands around the globe. Population and tourism growth have overwhelmed the natural carrying capacity of most populated small islands. Small island businesses and governments are seeking technological means to increase island carrying capacity. Funding will allow drilling a 600 m deep test borehole with the intent of showing that this system is an acceptable commercial risk as a full-scale project on Grand Turk and similar tropical small islands composed of carbonate rock. The project’s business model (shown below) of a successful Grand Turk commercial water-producing greenhouse operation combined with drinking-water bottling can be franchised to entrepreneurs in many other tropical small island locations (see list of viable island locations in CDTI’s Technical Bulletin No. 3).
With successful drilling of a test borehole, proving technical feasibility, we expect financing will become easier to obtain. Financing would allow a full-scale commercial operation to commence as a demonstration project on Grand Turk. Beneficiaries would include the people of TCI who would achieve improved food and drinking water security with accompanying health improvements. Our first commercial operation will demonstrate how a WaterProducer-Greenhouse™ acts like a socio-economic engine, stimulating the regional economy, much as would a new resort, hotel, railway, or cruise ship dock. We expect widespread interest to develop through our marketing activities, thereby making it possible to replicate the project on other islands in TCI and on other tropical small islands worldwide (see list of viable locations in the following excerpt from CDTI’s Technical Bulletin No. 3).
The project was the subject of a CAD 205,000 CIDA Viability Study from 2001 to 2003. CIDA contributed 80% of the study cost. Tangible results from the study included production of nine comprehensive reports (Technical Feasibility, Financial and Commercial Viability, Regulatory Framework Analysis, Environmental Assessment for well-drilling, Environmental Assessment for entire proposed installation and operation, Training Plan, Gender Analysis and Social Integration Plan, and Partnership Agreement) which were all approved by CIDA’s experts. The project’s website, includes summaries of the reports. Efforts to fund the test borehole and first phase construction activities have been unsuccessful. Without having results of the test borehole available, it has been difficult to attract interest in financing the project. The water-producing greenhouse construction on Grand Turk (population 3,700) has not occurred. Therefore, the potential beneficiaries of the project, the people of TCI (population 45,000), remain waiting for progress on the project. Once the project is completed, the entire country of Turks and Caicos Islands will benefit from:
New local employment opportunities
Expanded needs for skills and technologies
A water-from-air production system improves local access to fresh water without the negative effects of existing approaches: depleting scarce surface or groundwater freshwater supplies or producing brine by-products and chemical pollution as does desalination (flash distillation or reverse osmosis). The WaterProducing-Greenhouse™ system, in common with other drinking-water-from-air systems, has relatively low environmental impact. Read about the details in our Technical Bulletins:
Water + Food™ Blog
Roland Wahlgren is a Physical Geographer. He was scientific and technical consultant to the WaterProducer-Greenhouse™ Project while it was "live" as a CIDA-supported Viability Study during 2001-2003.
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