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Drinking Water From the Air 


The working group for ASSE 1090, Performance Requirements for Drinking Water Treatment Devices Using Air as a Source, has nearly completed a comprehensive health and safety standard to cover residential and commercial water treatment equipment that creates drinking water from the air. As the global climate continues to change and the world’s population continues to grow, water conservation and access to clean drinking water continue to be high priorities. Even in areas where drought isn’t an issue, aging infrastructure, surface and ground water pollution, and increased demand for cleaner water is making it very difficult for municipalities to provide the quality of water that consumers now demand. Some of you may have seen CNN’s recent coverage of a new technology that creates drinking water from the air1. What CNN didn’t mention is the work that ASSE International has been doing to create performance standards for these devices.

ASSE 1090 is being created to test residential and commercial drinking water generating devices that are designed to create potable water from atmospheric humidity. Critical components of these devices include a condenser, storage tank, and filtration/disinfection controls to address potential chemical, particulate, and microbiological water contamination. The standard also includes consideration for the energy efficiency of the atmospheric water generator, and for products that include an optional potable water connection for instances when the water demand exceeds the production rate.

Performance Requirements and Compliance Testing Drinking Water Production Rate
The purpose of this test is to determine the amount of drinking water produced in a 24-hour period. Utilizing an existing standard from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) for evaluating dehumidification systems, ASSE 1090 references the test procedure in AHAM DH-1-2008, Major Appliance Performance Standard for Residential Dehumidifiers. AHAM created the DH-1 standard to establish uniform and repeatable test procedures for measuring the capacity and energy input of dehumidifiers. The criteria for complying with this section of the standard requires the daily production rate to be within five percent of the published value.

Fill Volume and Automatic Shut-off for Tank Style Systems
The purpose of this test is to determine the holding volume of the system. The system is required to be installed and conditioned per the manufacturer’s instructions and operated until the unit fills to the shut-off level. The volume of water held in the storage tank(s) is measured, and the test is repeated three times. The test unit’s average holding volume must be within five percent of the published value.

Energy Efficiency – Drinking Water Produced per Energy Consumed
The purpose of efficiency testing is to determine the amount of energy consumed per the volume of drinking water produced. Additional heating or cooling of the water after production are not included in this test. Testing must be conducted in accordance with Section 7.2 of AHAM DH-1. The energy used to produce the volume of water must be within five percent of the manufacturer’s published rating and a minimum of 3.0 L/kWh is required to comply with the standard. Published values must be in liters per kilowatt hour (L/kWh) or gallons per kilowatt hour (G/kWh).

Microbial Growth Protection
The purpose of this test is to evaluate the system’s ability to prevent microbial growth that may be present when pulling moisture from the air and storing the water. The working group has referenced two existing standards that demonstrate microbial protection: NSF/ANSI 55, Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems, Class A, or compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)’s Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers.

Life Cycling
For systems that connect to a potable water supply, in instances when the unit is unable to meet the water use demand generated from the atmosphere, the working group has referenced the life cycle requirements of ASSE 1087, Performance Requirements for Commercial and Food Service Water Treatment Equipment Utilizing Drinking Water.

Backflow Protection
Systems that include a drain connection shall include an air gap device complaint with IAPMO PS 65.

Material Safety
The material safety test was developed to ensure that the materials in contact with drinking water do not add harmful contaminants into the water. Material formulation reviews must be conducted to determine the necessary extraction test battery. Condensers are not typically produced to contact drinking water. The extraction testing utilizes very low TDS challenge water. Challenge water is poured over the condenser to simulate use and to capture contaminants that may extract from the condensing unit. After the unit is full, it is turned on to ensure the reagent water is circulated through the entire system. The product water must be tested for compliance with the U.S. EPA’s national primary drinking water regulations2. Other chemicals or analytical methods specified during the toxicological review must use the specified total allowable concentration values listed in the newly published NSF/ANSI/CAN 600, Health Effects Evaluation and Criteria for Chemicals in Drinking Water.

ASSE 1090 is another example of ASSE International providing a consensus platform to create health and safety product standards for the plumbing and water treatment industries. Water treatment companies have recognized ASSE’s commitment to developing high quality standards for the U.S. and global markets. Validation testing was completed in IAPMO R&T’s test laboratory in March, and the working group intends to present Draft ASSE 1090 standard to ASSE’s Product Standard Committee in June.

Metz, Rachel. “Drinkable Water Is Scarce. These Companies Are Pulling It out of the Air.” CNN, 31 Jan. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/01/31/tech/water-from-air-startups/index.html
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, U.S. EPA, www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations