By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 03, 2016
Credit: © Fontus

At first, it sounds more like alchemy than science, but the inventor behind Fontus says his science is sound and his forthcoming bottle really can source drinking water directly from the air—assuming there’s enough humidity and heat to make it happen.

Vienna-based designer Kristof Retezar has been working on this project, called Fontus, for years. It first gained attention back in 2014 when it was a finalist for the James Dyson Award given to students for their innovative problem-solving creations. Now Retezar’s product is once again getting press as he gears up for a planned crowdfunding campaign next month, intended to help mass-produce the devices.

The forthcoming first generation Fontus attaches to a bike, using airflow to pull vapor from the air and convert it to water via condensation. “This is simply condensation of the humidity that is contained in the air,” Retezar told Live Science. “You always have a certain percentage of humidity in the air, it doesn't matter where you are—even in the desert. That means you would always potentially be able to extract that humidity from the air.” In ideal conditions, with humidity over 80 percent and warm temperatures, he says Fontus can produce up to a half quart of water in an hour.

In future iterations, Retezar hopes to develop a stand-alone version that can suck in air without going for a bike ride, leading to an even bigger potential market. “The idea was to solve a global problem: water issues in areas of the world where there is very little groundwater but very high humidity,” the designer said. “My intent was to invent a machine or device that would be able to filter the humidity in the air and turn it into drinkable water.”

Personally, I would have worked on a machine that can filter in humidity and turn it into cold hard cash, but I guess that would come down more on the alchemy side of things.