A small clip of the sculpture in the photo studio. Next week we connect the technology to the sculpture.
The idea of the first SunGlacier sculpture is to build a water drop-inspired structure, placed on a base of solar panels which generate the power needed to produce water out of air. The water will be released from the top of the sculpture and then drip down onto the solar panels.
To investigate the mechanics of a splash, we recorded fluids dropping on a black surface.
To “catch” the shape concept into a state closer to reality, we built a prototype with LEGOs that forms the basis of the design. Did anyone ever say that creating art couldn’t also be fun?
In two weeks we’ll start copying the LEGO cubes in real wooden cubes: the building of the final design. We already tested the water production of our condensor, and beginning 2016 we start testing the solar installation. This is a voyage of discovery in itself.
The positive potential of this project and the other solutions it could inspire became up close and personal again when I traveled to India earlier this month and witnessed the effects of a drought. The province of Gujarat produces a lot of food for the 1.2 billion people of India, but green fields are changing more and more into deserts. This year the south of India was drenched in rain while in the more northern regions, the monsoon only lasted a couple of days – demonstrating increasingly unstable climate impacts.
Except for desalination that can relieve a bit of the drought pressure in coastal regions, there are still no real alternatives for the regions more inland. Water reservoirs and rivers are drying up as well, while the demand for water was never as large as nowadays.
With Art Project SunGlacier we aim to show people around the world the possibilities of harvesting water out of the air. In our case off-grid, only using solar energy is what makes it more unique and promising. This is ultimately a work of art that hopefully can contribute to new ideas and visions to relieve future water shortages.
This is it! This week we have started building a unique Art Project with potential applications for off-grid water resources in a changing climate. The SunGlacier project aims to offer solutions built within an intriguing design as it inspires more creative innovations for adaptation.
Since the start of the SunGlacier project I have been surrounded by a great team of friends who have given their time, effort and support, with a belief in building this prototype. Without their enthusiasm and determination to continue, the project may have stopped a long time ago.
Although additional financial support for this leap into a hydro-artistic future is certainly welcome, it’s about much more than money. The SunGlacier prototype is taking off with its own financial resources. It’s about our commitment to being the first to offer real solar-powered water production that can be optimized and put into use, beginning with an artistic presentation to grab public attention.
The studio where we are testing the components and building the SunGlacier version V01 is located in The Hague, the Netherlands. In the V01 we are using off-the-shelf technology to demonstrate that this laboratory-tested concept works. Later versions will feature custom technology, and the SunGlacier team is looking forward to how this first step will provide new insights and methods on how to maximize the water-production system.
Keep a check on this blog and the SunGlacier Facebook page during the building phase of the project (www.facebook.com/sunglacier). When it is complete, we hope for the working SunGlacier prototype sculpture to be invited for a trip around the world. A road show like this can increase engagement of others in our project and in other solutions for man living on a changing planet. Global media has already been reporting on our designs/concepts and we are looking out for more positive publicity as the prototype becomes a reality before the end of 2015.
Stay tuned; stay positive!
The SunGlacier Team
Project Management: Ap Verheggen, Frank van der Heijden,
Jan Alkemade, Matt Luna
Ralph The, Marcel in ’t Veen, Sander van Gent, Terry Cutts, Petra Reulings
Film and Photography: Taco Zwaanswijk, Svebor Kranjc. Boudewijn Knuistingh Neven (BKN), Davina Lamberts (BKN), Hessel Waalewijn
He told us that his area has plans to recycle wastewater into a kind of grey water that could be used by the households, as a measure of relief for the overstressed water supply to his neighbourhood. It sounded like an ambitious plan, but even he questioned how many neighbours would stay if they have to use their own sewage…. “I’m not sure how many of my neighbours would agree to drink their pee,” he told us.
Arriving at the Lake Mead Park, we started our investigation at the visitors centre. The lady behind the desk showed us on a map of what remained of Lake Mead. She told us that only 36 percent of the water still remained in the reservoir, because of the drought. More worryingly, she told us that Lake Mead would never be full again. The demand for water is simply more than the supply. When the water inlets that lead to pipes dry up, they simply dig a new inlet to buy a bit of time. It’s a critical situation that we certainly didn’t expect.
We followed a road that promised to lead us to the lake, away from the dam and into the valley. At one point the gravel trail changed into smooth concrete and then back again. We continued to drive for another kilometre to arrive at shore of Lake Mead. Only then did we really appreciate how much lower the current water level is from that grey line that indicated the old “normal” surface level: From where we stood, a car parked above us by the rocks close to that line had the dimensions of a housefly. We realized the concrete patch in the road, way above, was once a boat launch. Now we could also explain the ladders high up against the rocks: they were ladders that people used to climb out of the water. It was like looking at the old Lake Mead from the fish’s eye view.
Continuing our tour, we found a sign – in the middle of the desert — that explained the Vegas Wash –Wetlands-. A decade ago the wetlands would have started just by the sign, but of course, we couldn’t find water at all.
The real shock came when we left the park and after just a few kilometres and some curves, we saw a huge green golf course, kept lush by sprinklers. Bizarrely, there were no golfers to be found – the desert heat was too much for them. We actually stopped the car to take in this strange scene – certainly it ranks among the weirdest things I had ever seen.
On our way back to LA I talked with a teacher who lives in Las Vegas and asked her about the water situation. She told me that she was concerned about the quality of the drinking water because she believed that pollutants sink to the bottom of the lake and she was afraid that soon the government would not be able to guarantee the quality of the water anymore. It was a worry that she came up with herself, but it helped her make the decision to leave and sell her house before others come up with the same idea and her property was worthless.
SunGlacier Director of Communications, Matt Luna, attended the second week of the COP and talked with participants about water solutions and innovation. Representatives of global organizations reacted with surprise and interest to the relatively simple concept of solar-powered water as a step in adapting to a changing environment.
While negotiating parties in plenary sessions wrestled over single words in an agreement to limit emissions, groups holding side events were discussing adaptation, forest preservation, green growth and smart cities. Use of renewable energy such as solar was of course a key point to numerous discussions. It was remarked that wealthy financial institutions is where many solutions lie, as money is needed to fund green growth toward a leaner use of the planet.
Our team has been strategizing with UNESCO-IHE, the Institute for Environmental Security, the European Space Agency and others to design a program of alternative water supply and resource management that can be a step toward solutions for vast changes in our planet’s water resources. The artistic design of Desert Cascades can also help create a broader project impact by using art as a universal means of communication.
The problem is evident, the focus is clear and we are moving forward. Desert Cascades has very real potential to help water scarcity in growing parts of the world. With more hard work and vital support, places like Lima could see an innovative step in drinking water resources for communities in need.