More than 18,000 euros for a 360-kilogram steel box

Always fresh drinking water at the Jedi Master, no matter how low the humidity is on Tatooine? Luke Skywalker had a good laugh at that. (Izzy Gibson/Unsplash; Lucasfilm; Genesis Systems)

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is currently taking place in Las Vegas. One of the thematic focuses is, unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence.

As part of the event, among other things, a device was presented that is supposed to filter drinking water from the air. CNET's colleagues took a closer look at the massive steel cube on site.

What kind of steel box is that? It should make it possible to extract water from the ordinary air around us – even in the dust-dry desert around Las Vegas. Similar to generating electricity independently with balcony power plants, you can produce your own water with this massive device.

The equipment reminds us directly of the moisture farm where film hero Luke Skywalker grew up in the first Star Wars film. Luke's aunt and uncle are wetland farmers on the desert planet Tatooine.

But what is really behind the real device apart from science fiction?

What can the WC-100 Watercube do?

The device is available in two versions. Once as the “WC-100 Watercube”, then as the “WC-1000 Watercube”. Both devices condense the moisture in the air – even if it is very low – and thus produce drinking water.

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The WC-100 Watercube is the version for home use. The number “100” refers to the amount of water that can be produced daily with the device, i.e. 100 gallons (almost 380 liters). There should even be a maximum of “120 gallons of fresh, clean water” per day, as Genesis Systems writes. That's almost 455 liters.

How much water WC-100 can produce from case to case depends largely on the humidity. The 380 liters were measured at around 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) and 50 percent humidity, writes CNET.

To put it into perspective, 380 liters: According to the Federal Statistical Office, every person in Germany uses an average of 128 liters of water per day.

The built-in water storage has a capacity of 50 gallons (almost 190 liters). The device should be able to be combined with a larger water storage tank. The manufacturer also says the device will produce 1 gallon (3.8 liters) per minute.

It looks like an inkjet printer that is squeaking for a new cartridge, but it is the WC-100 Watercube.  (Genesis Systems)

It looks like an inkjet printer that is squeaking for a new cartridge, but it is the WC-100 Watercube. (Genesis Systems)

Why WC-100 Watercube is less worthwhile for home use

This sounds tempting at first, but there are several catches. The WC-100 is initially quite a clunker (1 meter high) and weighs over 360 kilograms (800 pounds).

Then there is the price. The website of the manufacturer Genesis Systems lists a retail price of $19,995 for the WC-100. This corresponds to the equivalent of more than 18,260 euros. You can reserve your order for the device for an additional $500 (around 450 euros).

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It remains to be seen whether the metal box could do the same for your water bill as balcony power plants do for your electricity bill. According to ZDF, Germans pay “a national average of 27 cents per capita and per day” for water.

Calculated over a year with 365 days, this comes to just 99 euros. According to this calculation, the Watercube with its price of 18,260 euros would only pay off after over 180 years.

The WC-100 Watercube is unlikely to find its way into German households for the time being. The device is definitely a fascinating invention that shows how we can obtain clean drinking water in the future – and it is not an isolated case. ETH Zurich is researching a water extraction system. And the people of Munich around Aquahara are also working on a similar water production system.

Speaking of water: Study determines which drink gives us the most fluids: water isn't even on the winner's podium

What do you think of Genesis Systems' invention? Is this an ingenious invention that will also become popular with us in the long term? Or do you think that the WC-100 Watercube and similar equipment will hardly be widely used in our latitudes? Please let us know in the comments whether you think the Watercube has future potential.

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