An unbelievable marriage of art and technology

An unbelievable marriage of art and technology
Climate change is forcing new thought on innovations in facing drier conditions in vast areas of the globe. In the SunGlacier project, we have spent more than two years researching ways of capturing these changes for our advantage, with surprising results.

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 <>

Update: more drinking water than expected!

Update: more drinking water than expected!
Yesterday in our laboratory tests, drinking water production increased to such an extent that we were completely overwhelmed by the results. Even at this stage of the testing I already can announce: Yes! We have found a new method that can contribute to one of world’s toughest challenges. There remain expected variables in application circumstances, but overall the outcome is far beyond “promising;” It’s spectacular!

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…

Sun + Air = Water

Sun + Air = Water
In wider patches of the world, communities are struggling to adapt to increasingly severe and long droughts that are forcing a search for sustainable systems of fresh water. Access to H2O is of course the very basis of survival, and there is also growing recognition of how scarcity of vital resources can drive the spread of social unrest, political instability and conflict in affected and neighboring areas

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.”

The project’s ultimate aim is to inspire broader, collective solutions, and it seems we’ve just reached a point of no return. The need for results from our efforts is growing. The technology is performing beyond predictions in laboratories. The public is responding enthusiastically to the positive core purpose of SunGlacier. And, our team’s resolve to make solar-powered water feels like a speeding train without brakes.

We’re not going to stop until we plunge straight off a cliff and into a sea of positive solutions!

New tests can start in the next weeks

New tests can start in the next weeks
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 


Building a positive polar vortex

Building a positive polar vortex
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

Join SunGlacier on an inspiring ride

Join SunGlacier on an inspiring ride
Someone pulled the lever again on the climate slot machine. Two severe storms have hit North Europe in an alarming short several weeks with winds up to about 150 km/hour, one storm at an opportune moment of high tide. Many were looking back at the lessons learned about adapting to the unpredictability of nature back in 1953 when 1,800 people lost their lives in flooding in the Netherlands. Reinforced flood-protection measures followed soon after that disaster.

 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

Recent media coverage – selected links:
The Weather Channel  
La Repubblica
Discovery Brasil
TV program in Bulgaria

A flow of ideas…

From the inspiration and research of the SunGlacier project making ice in a desert, I’ve developed the idea of creating an actual working waterfall also in an extreme dry area. The Desert Cascades concept is an art project to be made from a solar panel-based cube that independently supplies itself with energy to catch water vapor and flow the resulting water over and out of the structure. The Cascades is still an idea in-progress, but with the increasing speed of solar technology, it could soon be growing – as is SunGlacier – closer to becoming a functioning reality.

artist impression by Ap Verheggen

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.

For us it’s essential to explore outside of conventional technology to develop ideas like how much water we can get out of the air with only solar as power generator. In the SunGlacier project, we have searched for solutions to achieve maximum results because the nature of the project calls for extreme methods. Some answers have been found in nature, like how structures and processes have developed over thousands of years of evolution. Some of these answers can also be used to build Desert Cascades.
artist impression by Ap Verheggen
We’ve noticed a huge gap between theory and reality in testing our ideas, so naturally it has been impossible to make conclusions before empirical testing. Well, such scenarios simply create a need for more old-fashioned creativity in this modern research. I discovered in this process that the experts at our partner Cofely Refrigeration are artists in their own right. Interpretation of research outcomes often requires out-of-the-box thinking. The main conclusion of our research remains: Do it! It’s funny that we actually learned a lot about water while making ice, as a result of stretching borders to conquer larger extremes.
SunGlacier is in essence a very close concept cousin to Desert Cascades. From one project we learn a lot about the other project. Both are conceived with the purpose of demonstrating that we need to think in terms of solutions as man always has done – also in adapting to a changing climate. A core message is that if our living conditions change, we can also change our mind set try to shape these changes for our own benefit. For me it is clear that climate change = culture change. I am quite positive that we can generate, even now, an autonomously working waterfall in a desert, and I am confident that the results can somehow inspire new applications for the future. Believe the impossible. The art project ‘Desert Cascades’ is still in a concept phase, but it is too interesting to me to not build it.

It’s ironic that the big ball of fire in the sky that makes one feel thirsty can also power the creation of water over elegantly-sculpted cascades.

The Climate Balloon Theory

A balloon helps explain our climate
As an artist I don’t feel as confined by boundaries of science when considering natural phenomena, because it’s more my purpose to see things in a certain way, rather than to offer concrete explanations and/or solutions.  But with my long-time interest in nature and the radical changes in the Arctic regions, I’ve worked up a simple conclusion:  Earth’s climate laws are comparable to a balloon.
The climate change subject has been thrown into an arena with multiple contestants struggling to advance their own theories. Nobody yet has a 100 percent certain answer if the entire earth is heating up or cooling down, but all participants are sending a similar message: our climate is changing.

The Climate Balloon Theory
“If you press a balloon in one place, consequences are felt elsewhere. A closed system”
The Climate Balloon Model (in complete balance)


One good example of a climate consensus is that the Arctic is heating up, but it is difficult to find a unanimous statement on global changes. In the climate change balloon, if the Arctic is heating up, as a consequence, another part in the world must be cooling down. 

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.

Wind and currents (the equalizers)

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.

Declining sea levels?

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.

While we know that sea levels are rising in many areas, some data on the NOAA world map caught my attention. I saw dramatic sea level decreases indicated in the Baltic Sea, and it became apparent that water is getting sucked out of those areas. When I consult my balloon model, I see the main streams in the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea becoming more powerful so that they are indeed stealing water straight out of the Baltic Sea!

It makes sense that if sea level rise was only a result of melting glaciers, it would be impossible to explain why some areas are having decreasing sea levels. General consensus essentially states that sea levels worldwide are increasing because of melting glaciers, BUT…..

On some Northern and Southern stations, a sea level decrease is evident. (Alaska and Spitsbergen)

Following my balloon theory and the possibility of greater currents redirecting water flow, other places with few or without stations: Antarctica, Greenland, and many other parts of the Arctic Ocean will experience decreasing sea levels.

But perhaps it’s too ambitious for an artist to create a new theory that sea level rise is mainly driven by the power of changing of currents instead of melting ice caps.

More information on sea levels:

The Climate Balloon is never in balance

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).

To maintain a balance, there must be a dynamic system. It’s a quite complicated process that I think nobody completely understands, and it’s anybody’s guess what long-term climate effects will be.

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.

Somebody squeezed the Balloon: Climate Change!

Climate science is relatively new, and in relation to the earth’s age, we are just recovering from an ice age. Our equalizers helped create a balance, but now signs are pointing to a new era: Climate Change. I see the situation as climate changing at unprecedented (and yet unknown) speed and intensity.  A result is more extreme climate conditions.

I have seen the Arctic with melting glaciers around me, and I have also seen temperatures in the same area at 40C above average. The local Inuit said the changes started in the 1970’s, and every year is becoming more extreme. And likewise, locals in Coast Rica told me that they can’t rely anymore on the rain season: forests are dying from a delicate balance that was disturbed by natural forces that are also at play in the balloon.

And by the way, the message below was posted on the site where I tried to do further research on sea ice:
Maybe I should give them a call to tell them more about my Climate Balloon Theory!

Please feel free to repond: