A GLOBAL innovation prize to solve the critical global water shortage is offering $2.28 million for energy-efficient technology to harvest fresh water from the atmosphere.
Some 660 million people do not have ready access to safe water supply. The United Nations will raise awareness of the crisis through its annual World Water Day event, to be held on March 22.
The innovation prize, convened by US-registered not for profit organisation XPRIZE, is designed to tackle the same problem.
XPRIZE wants the competition to lead to development of a device that can extract at least 2,000 litres of water per day from the atmosphere using 100 per cent renewable energy, at a cost of no more than two cents per litre.
The aim is to give everyone access fresh water whenever and wherever they need it, the organisers said.
Australian government will partner with XPRIZE for the competition, which has been endorsed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
According to XPRIZE there are more than 11 quadrillion gallons of untapped water in the atmosphere, which is enough to meet the needs of every person in the world for a year.
“With two thirds of the global population living under water-stressed conditions, there’s never been a more crucial time to not only rethink our methods of water consumption but reinvent them,” said Zenia Tata, XPRIZE’s executive director of global expansion.
The group runs a range of competitions to solve “grand challenges”. It kicked off with a successful competition in 1996 to send a passenger vehicle into space. It has also spurred solutions to oil spills, lunar landings and increased understanding of ocean acidification.
Current competitions include robotic space exploration, ocean exploration, adult literacy and more.
Ms Tata said Australia was well placed to deliver a successful solution.
“(W)e believe there are few other countries in the world with the same level of expertise in identifying innovative approaches to securing and distributing fresh water to areas previously thought of as inaccessible,” she said.
Registration of teams to compete in the competition closes on April 28. The winner is set to be announced in August 2018.
Visit the XPRIZE water challenge website for details.