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DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

If you are through speculating, this is the place to discuss actions you are taking.

DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 14:36:55

For quite a while I've wanted to purify my drinking water to remove the mercury, chlorine, hormones, fluoride, prescription drugs and other chemicals. I didn't want to just filter my tap water, because that will not remove the hormones and prescription drugs that are in the water, rather start with a less polluted source that is easily purifiable. Filtering your tap water will also will not remove 100% of the fluoride.

I thought about collecting rain water, which I will probably do at some point, but that's several months off still. So I started to think about getting water from the atmosphere. There are Atmospheric Water Condensers that you can buy for $1000-$3000 like the Ecoloblue, but they were too expensive to me. Next I thought about using regular dehumidifiers like you use in your home to produce clean water. But various sources said that the water can contain fungi spores, mites and dust, which exist in the air.
http://answers.google.com/answers/threa ... 37065.html

But what about filtering the dehumidified water with a water filter like the Berkey water filter? The Berkey removes bacteria and solids, which should take care of any impurities carried in the air.

Here's the components:
Frigidaire dehumidifier, Big Berkey Water Filter

The system cost would be around $420, which is much less than $3000 for an Ecoloblue. This appears to me to generate virtually pure drinking water.

Here are the pros and cons in my opinion.

Pros:
1. Clean water, free of hormones and drugs
2. Health benefits
3. Not dependent on tap or ground water for drinking water

Cons:
1. Costs ~$15/month in electricity (615W x 6hrs/day x 12cents/KWh)
2. Equipment maintenance/cleaning
3. Filter replacement cost = $100 every ~6000 gallons
4. Needs solar panels or generator to work if electricity fails.

I wanted to ask, what are the opinions of the other scientists, doctors and engineers on the forum about this system?
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby truecougarblue » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 15:52:55

I'm OK with your system, but wouldn't it be easier to use a compressor to fill a condensor coil made from black funny pipe? Run it down a slope and back up again, at the end there is a bleed valve. At the bottom of the slope a tee with a valve and that is where the water collects.

You could run a cheap 12V tire compressor on PV, or set up an 120VAC electric compressor to run cycles in the overnight when your condensation would be the best. One major advantage of this system is that is provides pressurized water that can be moved up to a tank, etc.

FWIW.
Last edited by truecougarblue on Tue 17 Nov 2009, 16:16:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby mos6507 » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 15:58:02

Jotapay, if you're going to remove all that criminally and maliciously toxic flouride (curse you, illuminati!!!) you should also make sure it removes all of the dihydrogen monoxide. Then you'll be left with something really pure. Not that refreshing, mind you, but pure.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 16:03:31

mos6507 wrote:Jotapay, if you're going to remove all that criminally and maliciously toxic flouride (curse you, illuminati!!!) you should also make sure it removes all of the dihydrogen monoxide. Then you'll be left with something really pure. Not that refreshing, mind you, but pure.


You repeatedly make an arse out of yourself, don't you.

That Penn and Teller bit is soooo last century.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby RdSnt » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 16:30:13

I don't suppose in Texas you have a high efficiency gas furnace?

Here in the north they are quite common. A meaningful amount of distilled water is generated by a high efficiency furnace, as a by-product. The usual setup is that the water is piped to a drain to get rid of it. I capture it and use it.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 16:37:58

truecougarblue wrote:I'm OK with your system, but wouldn't it be easier to use a compressor to fill a condensor coil made from black funny pipe? Run it down a slope and back up again, at the end there is a bleed valve. At the bottom of the slope a tee with a valve and that is where the water collects.
You could run a cheap 12V tire compressor on PV, or set up an 120VAC electric compressor to run cycles in the overnight when your condensation would be the best. One major advantage of this system is that is provides pressurized water that can be moved up to a tank, etc. FWIW.
I've been looking online at those components for about 15 minutes. I'm a little sketchy on how a compressor will reduce the temperature in a condenser coil. Do you know of any online resource that explains that? Thanks. :)
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 16:42:54

RdSnt wrote:I don't suppose in Texas you have a high efficiency gas furnace?

Here in the north they are quite common. A meaningful amount of distilled water is generated by a high efficiency furnace, as a by-product. The usual setup is that the water is piped to a drain to get rid of it. I capture it and use it.


Actually my air conditioner creates about 6 gallons of water a day when it's running in the summer. It has a condensing coil and dehumidifies the air. It would have more impurities (mold, PVC) in it than water from a dehumidifier. However, since the Berkey water purifier is so good, maybe it would remove a suitable amount of the impurities. I think what I should do is take some of this water from the AC and a dehumidifier/condenser and have it tested after it's been filtered with the Berkey. I suppose that is the only way to know for sure how clean it is.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby frankthetank » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 17:01:51

Joto-

Go with rainwater... i think its your only hope. Or go find yourself a spring somewhere and fill up enough drinking water for a month or something? Or move to Wisconsin and become my neighbor! :) Winter sucks, but the women are thick :) Build a big ass sand filter? Maybe add peat (ive read peat removes a lot of nasty stuff) to it? Also think about running it through the filter a few times.

RdSnt-
That is funny you mention that. My POS Trane furnace (NG) leaks water after it has run its cycle. I've rigged it up so it drains to the drain in the basement from the leak (using copper)... The only problem with the water might be some problems with the plastics used? in the furnace... The water is very clean looking. Over the entire winter, i bet it only produced about 20 gallons of water..
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby truecougarblue » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 17:20:23

The condensation would occur due to the temperature drop between initial pressurization and eventual bleeding. Cycle the bleed valve on the bottom of any compressor tank, what comes out?

(See Boyles Law)
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 17:52:26

This is what I'm trying to remove:
http://www.ewg.org/tapwater/yourwater/s ... =TX2270001

frankthetank wrote:Go with rainwater... i think its your only hope.


I actually plan on it, but I don't have a catchment set up yet. It can also go months without raining here, so I wanted something more dependable.

truecougarblue wrote:The condensation would occur due to the temperature drop between initial pressurization and eventual bleeding. Cycle the bleed valve on the bottom of any compressor tank, what comes out?


I see. How much water do you guess one of those will make per day? I wonder if it is less efficient than a dehumidifier. But on PV it would run essentially for free as far as energy usage goes.

I think creating a system as you describe with a stainless steel cooling coil would be safer than using water dripping off the (leaching) aluminum cooling coils inside a dehumidifier. Thanks much.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby HeckuvaJob » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 18:47:10

I have a Whirlpool dehumidifier from Home Despot in my basement. It's sitting on top of and piped directly into a 55gal barrel. I filled up 3 over the course of the summer and used it to water my garden and on occasion, my dogs.

I would have no problem drinking the water after running it through a filter, in fact, that was the impetus behind the whole barrel project. I researched this before I started and found the very same warnings. It may not be ideal, but I doubt you would suffer any serious health risks from even the unfiltered condensate, let alone after filtering it.

You'd have to monitor for signs of bacterial growth (yellow, gray or pinkish film).

The problem I see is one of convenience (run down to the basement and fill up a large container from a small 1/4" drum spigot). I guess you could plumb a line to your sink and run it through a pump. This would also give you pressure to quickly run it through larger, inline water filter.

Of course our definitions of clean, safe and convenient may soon be facing drastic revisions.

I just found this: Fabrication of antibacterial water filter by coating silver nanoparticles on flexible polyurethane foams, but have no experience with it. The obtained results showed that the bacteria was killed completely with antibacterial efficiency of 100% being observed. Our research suggests that silver-coated polyurethane foams can be used as excellent antibacterial water filters and would have several applications in other sectors.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby truecougarblue » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 19:21:27

How much water you can make depends on your relative humidity because in effect you are altering the dew point of the air through compression. It also depends on how efficient your coil is and what the average continuous pressure atainable ends up being. If you run the air through too fast there won't be sufficient oportunity for condensate to form, too slow and it also effects efficiency.

I haven't set mine up yet, and it is less of a necessity at this point because my new house has a great well, but I plan running 500' 1/2" black irrigation tube downhill and right back up again. I'll try to remember to post production numbers when I have them. My guesstimate of best pressure for my system is around 45-50psi.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby PeakOiler » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 19:41:53

Jotapay: Buy (or build) a good solar water distiller. You can distill rainwater, tapwater, well water, etc. No energy needed to operate it but the Sun. And since you live in Central Texas, that is not a problem most of the time. ;)

See http://www.solaqua.com

You can get the, what is it, 15% or 25% (?) federal tax credit for the SolAqua Rainmaker distiller too.

It does, however, require nearly daily mainenance. (Esp. re-filling and flushing the basin which takes about six minutes per day.)

I bought one years ago, have used it nearly daily for years now, and it's still distilling and I haven't died or gotten sick from drinking the water! :lol:
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby truecougarblue » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 20:21:02

I agree with PO on the stil in an area with frequent rainfall. Where I live we can go 10 months without significant precip.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby frankthetank » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 21:15:06

My son drank the rainwater that had been sitting for about 2 weeks in the bird bath and said "ummm yum" It was funny but my wife thought he was going to die because the water was reddish... Still alive and that was few weeks ago... Also has a habit of drinking bath water :)

I thought some filters will filter just about everything? I know i have a hiking filter that you can take lake water and drink after filtering.

Only problem i would see is that rainwater or reverse osmosis water would have no minerals...

Some land that my family use to own had a spring coming right out of the ground (someone had built a concrete enclosure around it)...you could go up there and fill a cup up and drink away... good stuff.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby like_the_dinosaurs » Tue 17 Nov 2009, 21:21:20

Jotapay wrote:For quite a while I've wanted to purify my drinking water to remove the mercury, chlorine, hormones, fluoride, prescription drugs and other chemicals. I didn't want to just filter my tap water, because that will not remove the hormones and prescription drugs that are in the water, rather start with a less polluted source that is easily purifiable. Filtering your tap water will also will not remove 100% of the fluoride.

I thought about collecting rain water, which I will probably do at some point, but that's several months off still. So I started to think about getting water from the atmosphere. There are Atmospheric Water Condensers that you can buy for $1000-$3000 like the Ecoloblue, but they were too expensive to me. Next I thought about using regular dehumidifiers like you use in your home to produce clean water. But various sources said that the water can contain fungi spores, mites and dust, which exist in the air.
http://answers.google.com/answers/threa ... 37065.html

But what about filtering the dehumidified water with a water filter like the Berkey water filter? The Berkey removes bacteria and solids, which should take care of any impurities carried in the air.

Here's the components:
Frigidaire dehumidifier, Big Berkey Water Filter

The system cost would be around $420, which is much less than $3000 for an Ecoloblue. This appears to me to generate virtually pure drinking water.

Here are the pros and cons in my opinion.

Pros:
1. Clean water, free of hormones and drugs
2. Health benefits
3. Not dependent on tap or ground water for drinking water

Cons:
1. Costs ~$15/month in electricity (615W x 6hrs/day x 12cents/KWh)
2. Equipment maintenance/cleaning
3. Filter replacement cost = $100 every ~6000 gallons
4. Needs solar panels or generator to work if electricity fails.

I wanted to ask, what are the opinions of the other scientists, doctors and engineers on the forum about this system?


Hey Jota you had better stop eating food too if you want to reduce your flouride intake too zero.

http://www.fortcollinscwa.org/pages/fluoride.htm


Many fluoride minerals are known, but paramount in commercial importance are fluorite and fluorapatite. Fluoride is found naturally in low concentration in drinking water and foods. Water with underground sources is more likely to have higher levels of fluoride, whereas the concentration in seawater averages 1.3 parts per million (ppm).[4] Fresh water supplies generally contain between 0.01-0.3 ppm, while the ocean contains between 1.2 and 1.5 ppm.[5]

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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Wed 18 Nov 2009, 09:28:22

like_the_dinosaurs wrote:Hey Jota you had better stop eating food too if you want to reduce your flouride intake too zero.

http://www.fortcollinscwa.org/pages/fluoride.htm


Many fluoride minerals are known, but paramount in commercial importance are fluorite and fluorapatite. Fluoride is found naturally in low concentration in drinking water and foods. Water with underground sources is more likely to have higher levels of fluoride, whereas the concentration in seawater averages 1.3 parts per million (ppm).[4] Fresh water supplies generally contain between 0.01-0.3 ppm, while the ocean contains between 1.2 and 1.5 ppm.[5]


I have a geology degree. I'm aware of the ocean's and groundwater's chemistry. That doesn't mean I want to drink it, however. I'm more concerned with the hormones, pesticides, prescription drugs and heavy metals like Barium in the water than I am with fluoride. I find it a bit funny that you and Mos both zeroed in on that one item when it's other constituents which are probably more unhealthy.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Wed 18 Nov 2009, 09:41:20

PeakOiler wrote:Jotapay: Buy (or build) a good solar water distiller. You can distill rainwater, tapwater, well water, etc. No energy needed to operate it but the Sun. And since you live in Central Texas, that is not a problem most of the time. ;)


Thanks a ton. I'll definitely check that out. As strange as it may sound being in Texas, I don't get hardly any full sun on the ground on my property. My 1/2 acre in Austin is almost completely shaded by about 20 live oaks, which makes solar panel usage an issue too. I'll have to put it in the very front of my yard by the road in my wildflower patch to get any significant sun. I'd like to build one of these after I install a rainwater catchment system next year, so I'll figure out where it can go then.
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby CaptainCanuck » Wed 18 Nov 2009, 17:24:04

CIDA ( Canadian International Development Agency ) designed a supply of water from fog. It looked like a very fine volleyball net made from fishing line; the fog condensed on the net and trickled down into troughs to a resevoir. This web sit describes it http://archive.idrc.ca/library/document ... eceda.html It was a large system for a whole village; 10,000 litres per day.

You could try to google "collect water fog" There are many sites on this topic. Hope this helps
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Re: DIY Atmospheric Drinking Water Condenser

Unread postby Jotapay » Wed 10 Feb 2010, 21:48:17

This will probably fall into the TLDR category, but it's the only review on the internet that I know of, so it's unique and will be on the search engines.

I finally settled on my main method for getting clean drinking water, which will work as long as I have electricity and a water supply (electricity is more of a problem where I live than water). Thanks to PeakOiler who got me started thinking about distillers, although I didn't go with a solar still for my primary one (I plan to still build one though).

My first abortive attempt was to use a dehumidifier to get water without municipal contaminants. I would then filter this atmospheric water with a Berkey filter to remove any airborne impurities. It worked OK, but I think there were too many atmospheric impurities which overwhelmed the filter. I would see small dust particles in my water, so I quit using it.

I chose not to use reverse osmosis as it doesn't seem to remove many organic compounds like pesticides, hormones and prescription drugs. I started researching distillers. Distillers should remove almost all of the impurities except whatever can evaporate or become volatile to its gaseous state at a temperature less than or equal to 100 degrees C, which isn't much. This distiller has a bleed valve for VOCs before the condenser which will remove the majority of them. In my research I found a company called Durastill which I'd never heard of. They appear to be one of only two or three electric distiller manufacturers that make residential and commercial distillers. They have been in business since 1980 and all their distillers are made in the USA. The most interesting thing, I thought, is that they do a sizable percentage of business with the federal government, especially foreign embassies and corporations. Every time I called they first asked me for my agency name or company name, and the embassy reference is listed on their website. I've searched the web and found NO reviews of Durastill distillers. As far as I know, what I'm writing is the only one in existence.

So I ordered a Durastill distiller and the drinking water (distilled product) tank. They have much bigger models but I got the model 30H and 4 gallon automated drinking-water tank. Their model numbers and their specs aren't very well-labeled at their distributors so it was slightly confusing about what exactly I wanted to order. The 30H and 30J aren't even listed on Durastill's website. The 30H is a distillation unit that has a 2.5-3 gallon reservoir. It will distill about 2 gallons of water per batch and it takes about 6 hours to do so. The 30H is a manual unit, versus the 30J which is the same unit but automatic. The difference is that you must manually add water to the reservoir of the 30H for distilling and the 30J will automatically draw water from an input line that you've connected to your under-the-sink plumbing automatically when the reservoir level gets low and stop drawing water when it's full. Both units will shut off the heating element and fan when the water level gets about 2" above the bottom of the tank so as not to burn up the heating element.

The 30H operates by heating the water in the tank, sending water vapor through the coiled condenser hose which has a fan blowing on it. The condenser hose has hundreds of fins which help to cool the hose and vapor faster with the help from the fan. The hose exits the bottom of the 30H for water to be collected. If you have a 4 gallon drinking water tank like I got, you connect a hose from the exiting condensing coil to an opening on the top of the tank. The tank holds 4 gallons and has a spout from which you can draw ready-to-drink water on the front. The tank also has a float attached to a switch that will cut off electricity to an outlet when the drinking water tank is full. It is intended that you plug the electrical cord from the distiller into the tank and leave the switches for the fan on. When the drinking water tank fills, it will turn off the distiller. When the distiller is out of water, it has a float to turn itself off. If you had a 30J automatic distiller, it would automatically fill the distiller when it got low on water. So the entire process can be completely automated to keep you a full reservoir of drinking water. I've run three batches so far and the automated functionality works very well.

You can check out the claimed purification standards here:
http://www.durastill.com/learn_more_analysis.html

Notice that they spiked the water with impurities waaay higher than what you would get from your tap water. So it's still not an accurate test for what you would experience in real life, but it's a good indicator.

I decided to return my dehumidifier and keep my Berkey to use in conjunction with the Durastill. So I'm going to distill my water and any remaining impurities that are in the water will have to get run through the Berkey, which claims a 95%+ reduction in all impurities as well.

After running two batches, I inspected the distillation tank to see what was left in there after the water was removed. I was shocked and saw much more precipitate than I anticipated. There was a very fine coating of white silt on everything inside the distillation reservoir. It wouldn't come out with just spraying of the faucet head, I had to put a dish brush in there to dislodge it and coax it to the bottom so it would drain from the tank. I'd say that I am being generous by estimating at least a minimum of a teaspoon of impurities per gallon. There was a very noticeable bit of silt covering the walls and floor of the tank, much more than I was expecting.

This unit does use a decent amount of energy. The heating element is rated at 1000 watts, plus the fan (unknown watts). The manual says it produces 3100 BTUs of heat (or 1000 watts of heat, duh), so it could heat up a room, but I haven't noticed it to be severe yet. In the summer I may move it out to the garage or to an unused bedroom and close the door. I have not noticed any increase in humidity, it shoots right into the tank. Running this guy for 6 hours will produce about 2 gallons of water. That is a substantial amount of energy bill right there, at least $20/month in these parts. If you have a family, I would suggest getting an automatic 30J so you can keep the drinking tank full, and your electricity bill will be higher as you will possibly be producing 8+ gallons per day.

This unit looks like it will take very regular maintenance to keep from having calcic precipitates coat everything. The seller told me these units should last 10 years. I think it will last much longer if you take care of it and make sure calcium doesn't clog up everything. Durastill sells some acidic cleaner which is supposed to remove the lime build up, but I would imagine anything that is food safe and will not remove stainless steel coating will work.

Here are the pics (click):
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_11.jpg
Unit from the left side. Note the upper unit is the distiller. The upper unit has vents on the left side for the fan blowing air across the condenser coil. On the right side of the upper unit you can see the sealed opening for feeding the distiller's reservoir. On the bottom is the 4 gallon reservoir where you draw drinking water. The top unit sits on the bottom unit freely and can be lifted off once the power plugs are disconnected.

Right side (click):
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_22.jpg
On the right side you can see the distiller's drain valve for draining left-over refuse precipitate into the sink. The switch that operates the fan is on the right side, which is normally left on and operated automatically by the distiller's float and drinking water tank's float. The small round button on the front looks to be some sort of reset button for the heating element, but the manual didn't explain that at all. The heating element is directly behind the red button.

Inside the distiller reservoir (click):
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_33.jpg
The heating element and the float which operates the shut-off functionality of the heating element and the fan when water level is too low.

Top-down shot of the condenser coil and fan in the distiller unit (click):
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_44.jpg
This is inside the top distiller unit on the left side. You can see the condenser coil with the cooling fins. Beneath the condenser coil, you can see parts of the fan but it's hard to see. The vapor enters from the bottom right of this picture from the top of the unit and leaves, condensed, at the bottom of the unit on the upper left of this picture.

Shot through the crawl space between the units from the left:
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_55.jpg
This is so you can see the connections between the units. On the left is a clear hose connecting the condensing hose from the top unit to the bottom tank. On the right in the foreground is a round float that is sitting on top the bottom tank. Once the float on the inside rises, it will raise the small paddle with a cut-out channel sitting on top in the middle of the float. You can see a small elbow-shaped wire sitting in this paddle-shaped pin on the float. Once this wire is raised, it triggers a switch in the electrical box in the rear ground on the right hand side. This box has an outlet cord for the lower tank to be plugged into the wall and receive power, as well as it's own receptacle so you can plug the top distiller into it. When the elbow shaped wire is raised by the float, the switch shuts off power to the top distiller. It works very well.

Shot through the crawl space between the units from the right:
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_77.jpg
You can see the connection between the top unit's drain from the condenser coil and the input to the bottom tank on the left background. On the far right, you can see the electrical switch box which controls the power supply to the top distiller, controlled by the float in the middle foreground.

Right side crawl space.
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_88.jpg
Left side is the distiller's drain for the refuse precipitate. Right side is the on-off switch box for the top distiller, controlled by the float on the bottom tank.

Back of the unit.
http://codemonkeyx.com/offsite/durastill_99.jpg


In my opinion, this guy works very well. It definitely purifies water. I had no idea there was so much crap in it. Coupled with the Berkey, I think this will make exceedingly pure water. It seems to be very well made, I have no complaints with its construction. Spare parts are available when the fan and heating element wear out. The manual is rather old (it said 1985) and didn't explain everything about assembly. I still have no idea what the red button on the front really does. But if you take your time, you can figure it out. If you have large hands and forearms, it is very difficult to get your forearm inside the container to clean the back corners as the apertures are so small on the top. But it can be done with long-handled brushes if you're careful. Cleaning solvent (acid, basically) from Durastill should make cleaning this things a breeze if you make sure to clean the precipitate out of the distiller's tank at least weekly. I don't think anyone has ever posted detailed pics of these things before online, which is why I gave it a thorough review. If you are going to spend almost $1000 on one, you should know as much as possible about what you are ordering. It does seem to be a very well-made product and I would recommend it. I definitely can think with a clearer head during the day while I'm banging out code after drinking pure water for a few days.
Last edited by Jotapay on Thu 11 Feb 2010, 07:32:25, edited 2 times in total.
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