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Exploring STEM Solutions

Welcome to our new segment in the Spoonbill Scoop! Exploring STEM Solutions will highlight a project that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math to solve everyday problems. Join us each month to see how STEM is making the world a better place.

Worldwide Water Shortage Sparks Million-Dollar Designs

No new water is ever made on Earth. Of all the water on our blue planet, only 0.007% of it is easily accessible drinking water. Countries around the world are facing increasing demand for potable water and are met with increasing challenges. The Water Abundance XPrize challenge began in 2016 to help alleviate this water scarcity. They were after a device that could pull drinking water from the atmosphere.

Tata Group is funding the competition along with Australian Aid, a nonprofit that provides poverty relief in developing countries. These designs seek to help the 66 percent of the population that lack drinking water for at least one month of the year. XPrize inspired engineering talent from all over the world with its total prize of $1.75 million for the winning design.

Water Abundance XPrize recently announced its five finalists. They represent five different countries and a blend of STEM backgrounds. Each design pulls at least 2000 liters (528 gallons!) from the atmosphere per day, all while being energy efficient. Visit TechCrunch to see photos of the designs and to read more about them.

Illustration courtesy of wikimedia.org – Hans Hillewaert

Floridians are no strangers to water shortages. While our aquifers discharge 19 billion gallons of spring water per day, humans are using that water faster than groundwater can replenish the aquifers. Sinkholes, saltwater intrusion, water restrictions, and wildfire risks are all consequences of this increased demand. Costly desalination plants remove salt from salty or brackish water and create the freshwater that flows from our faucets. The final Water Abundance XPrize designs are a step in the right direction when it comes to simple, energy-efficient, and cost-effective water supply during water scarcity events. Learning more about where our water comes from and how much we use will ultimately help us preserve the H20 we have left.

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