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.
SunGlacier is an art project that pushes the borders of theory and present technology. A marriage of art and innovation has proved the value of “dare to dream about making the impossible, possible.” Yes, we can now build a glacier in a hot, dry desert and yes, we can generate drinking water from air.
It’s time for the next phase of building an autonomous water-generating structure that carries a zero carbon footprint. All technology developed in research has been compiled in an accessible report that provides answers to questions such as: how much drinking water can we produce out of thin air powered by only solar energy – and what does it cost?
The ultimate goal is to not only to build the art projects SunGlacier and Desert Cascades, but to see our technology applied where it can benefit people searching for an independent water source. This is art; this is climate adaptation; this is a new business concept that can make rain for investors willing to plunge into previously unexplored edges of technological applications.
Our starting point is the production of pure drinking water in dry situations for a relatively low cost. In going beyond the artistic impact of the project, we have developed promising applications for SunGlacier to be put into use in various situations.
Although SunGlacier was not initially designed as a commercial project, an investment structure now allows organizations to participate in supporting the widespread success of the project. The potential to draw positive attention to a business with an environmentally-friendly art project that makes usable water is no longer science fiction.
The technology is real, just as the inspiration that can motivate broad sectors of industry to follow in applying innovative resource adaptation.
More information: Ap Verheggen at <email@example.com>
Our new testing results demonstrated that our project: a synergy between an artist’s mind and the expertise of some open-minded and creative engineers, has opened a new door in the search for climate adaptation solutions.
My heart beats twice as fast when I think about the impact of this project on future applications.
Stay tuned as we continue…
Project SunGlacier’s research and awareness of water’s place in nearly all levels of human security have led to the design of the autonomously functioning structure: “Desert Cascades.” This design that we’ve already previewed will create a cascade of fresh drinking water from humidity, driven purely by solar energy. And were still pushing boundaries by aiming to install this “oasis” in the extremes of a hot, arid desert.
Desert Cascades is a sculpture that can make a tangible contribution, through art, to adapting to rolling changes in the climate. Simply: It makes water from air, powered by the sun.
A sea of adaptation solutions is around us, and it’s up to us to harness resources we already have. This week we started further design tests in our laboratory that simulates desert conditions. And think, what can we accomplish working together now and in 5-10 years when the efficiency of solar power has increased exponentially?
The Discovery Channel has taken interest in the project, and sent a crew to film our successful round of testing at the laboratory last week. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, Head of UNESCO-IHE, (in photo, right) was also at the site last Thursday and said, “This is a historical moment, and of great importance for the future of our planet.”
We’re not going to stop until we plunge straight off a cliff and into a sea of positive solutions!
|The inspection of the Desert Laboratory at Cofely Refrigeration|
In a couple of weeks we start testing some new ideas how to generate water and ice out of thin air in desert conditions. We built a desert laboratory that copies world’s most extreme desert conditions and yesterday we inspected the installations.
|The Cofely Refrigeration Desert Team
Ir. Tom Lubbinge, Ir. Frank van der Heijden, Ir. Erik-Jan Hoogendoorn
|by Ap Verheggen|
How many of the millions who are now familiar with the term had heard of a polar vortex before last week? The sub-zero freeze in the United States feels like a flashback to the 2004 disaster film The Day After Tomorrow in which an eerily similar climate pattern brought on another ice age.
Is this swirling vortex of Arctic air over America so bizarre? Not really. As we’re enjoying a relatively warm winter so far here in Europe, a look out our window to the West reminds us that extreme climate events have passed the point of becoming the new norm, and are now a reality. Mother Nature seems to make her voice heard somewhere each month with a monstrous howl. It’s up to us to live under these new skies.
Working on SunGlacier is a chance to build 10% of inspiration that can lead to the 90% of perspiration that just may make some kind of positive difference in the lives of people in a forgotten corner of the planet – or in the growing urbanized part of the world. It’s important to stay positive and keep open minds for now and for the next generations. They will need solid shoulders to stand upon when searching for future solutions that just may be found in unexpected places.
Speaking of unexpected places, the Discovery Channel plans to come to the Netherlands later this month to film a segment on SunGlacier. More details will be made available soon.
Also, we previously posted about deadly tornadoes in the U.S. Midwest and the need for protective structures. Three new schools have opened in Missouri with protected rooms. Such an initiative is a simple idea in adaptation, but it requires a change in mindset and methods to be made possible.
Stay tuned, stay focused and most important: Stay Positive!
Photos from the polar vortex
Ap filmed himself on 5 December 2013
Nature will always be the stronger force. If there would have been more rain in the area when the latest storm tore through last Thursday, many may have experienced flooding at their doorsteps, even with barriers that have protected us from the water on the other side of the dikes for more than 50 years.
It’s in our survival DNA to preserve life – but relying on standard systems that have “worked so far” can have disastrous consequences. Approaches need to be as dynamic as humanly possible (and a bit beyond) to help man coexist with a more powerful nature. This is of course on a global scale: droughts are more severe and longer lasting, and super storm Haiyan made it clear that the climate slot machine is changing – and not necessarily in man’s favor. The house always wins?
So let’s just hit the pause button to allow time to find solutions that will better enable generations to come. But wait, that’s not an option. In fact, extreme weather events are becoming stronger and more frequent.
It’s right now that SunGlacier is working to create a functioning work of art aimed at inspiring a unified push for more innovative designs on adaptation. It takes a change of mindset. It takes human effort. And it takes money.
SunGlacier has had an explosion of international press coverage lately (see a few article links below), and our team has been meeting with potential financial partners to discuss carrying this unique approach forward, but more support is needed. Like-minded parties are invited to join us in what promises to be a globally intriguing art project that hopes to make people stop and say “Look at that; we can and should do more.” But more what? That is exactly the point of our exploration: to inspire discovery of the what and the how.
Find out more about becoming a part of the SunGlacier innovation. Contact Ap Verheggen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent media coverage – selected links:
The Weather Channel
TV program in Bulgaria
Sharon Dijksma, Dutch State Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Affairs attended a meeting with the technology experts of the SunGlacier Project at Cofely Refrigeration, Zoetermeer. She was very enthusiastic about all our ideas.
Developments in technology are ever increasing in speed. What appears impossible at the present can quickly become a reality within a number of months or a few short years. However, I believe that we can expand the benefits of technology when we accelerate current thinking on how to use potential applications in the future. An art project like the Cascades can inspire people and science to look beyond known horizons and become a type of generator for new possibilities. Consider science-fiction films from the 1970s; many Star Wars era dreams are becoming everyday tools in one form or another.
Consider seasons and daylight: as one side of the Earth receives light and heat from the daytime sun, the other side of the planet is cooling down in its night shadow. If the Northern Hemisphere is shivering in winter, the South of our planet is bathing in summer.
The Earth’s surface is covered with 75% water, but water makes up only 0.02% of the total mass of the planet. Because earth has an atmosphere (like the skin of a balloon) water cannot escape into space. Therefore, we come to this artist’s conclusion that the amount of water on earth will never increase or decrease, regardless of if the earth’s system is in balance or not. Water is the only real constant factor.
A common prediction is that as some parts of the world become dryer, other parts will become wetter. This perfectly fits my climate change balloon model.
In the climate change balloon we can learn that if we have great changes in temperature and water balance, there will be a noticeable effect on winds and ocean currents. The air and oceans are the players who control the system: the climate equalizers. Wind and water currents function as the motor of the system’s balance. In the Climate Balloon Theory, these forces are responsible for changes. A change in an ocean’s current has a larger but slower overall impact than its weaker counterpart, air.
Sea levels rise because of some easily-explained factors: 1) increased water temperature = increased water volume 2) the melting of glaciers 3) wind pushes water to the side, or other way around. In my balloon model, the same effects also can occur because of a current that pushes water to or from a continent.
On some Northern and Southern stations, a sea level decrease is evident. (Alaska and Spitsbergen)
In a perfectly balanced climate system, every same calendar day over years would have exactly the same temperature. This, as far as I’ve seen, has never happened. Our climate is changing from year to year. Many factors play an important role: the sun, planets, the moon, etc. I believe there are more factors involved than we are all are of…
Newton’s third law: “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.” (OK, so if a balloon is squeezed in one place to become smaller, another part of the balloon will react by becoming larger).
Our weather is essentially like a slot machine. Too many factors are playing their roles. Looking back into trends of recorded history to hypothesise what the weather/climate will be is like observing patterns of slot machine’s previous results and then pulling the lever armed with only a small probability of knowing the outcome – jackpot.