Harvesting Air Conditioning Condensation Could Replace Cities’ Potable Water Use

Building managers have realized that something as seemingly insignificant as the water droplets from the underside of air conditioning units have the potential to quench the thirst of thousands.

Microsoft reports that their 46,000 square meter offices in Herzliya, Israel, collect 3 million liters of condensate from air conditioners annually, which it uses to irrigate the campus flora and cool the building.

In the U.S., a campus building at Rice University, Houston, has an A/C unit that generates 15 gallons of condensate per minute, and they believe their entire campus could supply 12 million gallons annually.

Grasping this potential, municipal governments and eco-conscious offices around the United States are experimenting with different ways of utilizing a resource which for many years has served only to drip down the walls of buildings, giving them a dirty run-down appearance.

Condensation is a process that’s quite easy to control and predict. For example, if the surface on which condensation is taking place is uneven, the water will always run to the narrowest point before gathering enough mass to fall. Positioning a cistern or channel under that point is essentially the only major step required, or adding a water pump if one needs to send the water uphill.

Furthermore, many A/C units come with rubber condensate disposal piping which drains the moisture into a specific location such as a yard.

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