Aerogation was created by an engineering team to aid the water scarcity crisis in humid climates. We have designed and tested our solution-- a dehumidifying irrigation system-- to generate and supply irrigation water to water-depleted countries with high humidity rates. Our project is composed of three main elements that operate together to create an autonomous system. It begins with the dehumidifiers, whose fans are programmed with the Arduino computer system to run. The dehumidifiers produce water that then flows through the irrigation tubes to water a garden or patch of land.
The constraints attached to this project included a budget of $150 and use of a microcontroller. Our project is designed to water a small 6' garden in humid climates. If this project was to be produced on an industrial scale the materials should be sized up.
When beginning this project, our group knew that we wanted to create a design that with help eliminate water scarcity in third-world countries. We began brainstorming innovations of water collection and irrigation until we found one best suited for our humid climate-- using a dehumidifier to generate water for irrigation purposes.
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Step 1: Materials
Our Dehumidifying-irrigation system is composed of five main components:
Base and Acrylic
- 15/32" Plywood
- Two 15x10" pieces
- Two 20x15" pieces
- One 19x10" piece36 5/8" screws
- 1/8" Clear Acrylic
- Two 15x6.5"
- One 16.25x22"
- One 20x6.5"
- One 19x6.5"
5. Plastic Bin
- Four 6' drip irrigation tubing
- 2"x2" piece of plywood
- Two 12 V Computer Fans (Includes large heatsink)
2. Large Heatsink (if using a different fan)
- Two (Size)
- Two (Size)
- Two 12 V
Arduino Computer Coding
1. Arduino Uno
4. Resistor (? ohms)
1. Two 12v Solar Panels
2. 12v Solar Charger Controller
Step 2: Building the Base
1. Measure and cut: the plywood into two 20x10" and two 20x15" pieces of wood.
-two 2x10" and one 2x20" piece of wood.
-a 1x16" piece of wood.
- Two 2x25" pieces of wood.
2. Assemble the base sides by lining up the corners to make 3 sides of a square and screw. Then, add the bottom piece by drilling into the sides from the bottom. Make sure the screw is positioned in the middle to prevent splitting the wood!
3. Next, hinge the last side of the square to the rest of the base and drill. Position the last side of the base so it completes the square and place the 2 of the hinges inside on the top and bottom (see photo for reference).
4. The back corners of the base should be aligned so a small square of space is present at each. Take the pieces of wood and vertically align them to fill those spaces.
Step 3: Creating the Box Behind the Base
This box behind the base will eventually contain the circuit to power the solar panels.
1. Begin by creating plywood pieces by cutting...
a) One 19 3/4x 11 5/16 inch piece
-One 8 x 11 5/16 inch piece
-Two 8x 11 5/16 pieces
b) One 20x 25 inch piece
2. Using the pieces from a, position the largest piece flat on the bottom and the side pieces upright on top.*
3. Use wood glue to secure the sides together. Then use a nail gun along each side. Each nail should be about 3 inches apart.
4. Lay the piece from step b flat on the ground and put the base and box on top of it. The base should line up with the front of a 21" side and the box should be placed right behind.
5. Drill four screws into the front and back of the project to secure the pieces together.
There are only three sides because this will be attached to the back of the base.
Step 4: Cutting the Acrylic
1. Cut the acrylic or plexiglass into two 10x15" and two 20x15" pieces. We recommend using a band saw.
2. Next, drill two hinges into the 20x15" piece. Each hinge should be about 2.5" away from the ends.
3. Carefully drill screws into the hinges and acrylic. Then, use a Dremel tool to cut the screws flush with the acrylic (see image 3).
Note: make sure to use eye protection glasses when using the band saw and Dremel tool.
Step 5: Assembling the Base to the Acrylic
1. Begin by gluing the 10x15" pieces of acrylic to the top of the sides of the base and the corner stand of wood.
2. Glue one of the 20x15" pieces to the top of the back of the base and the side wood pieces. Use a generous amount of Epoxy. Clamp the acrylic and wood together for a recommended 24 hours.
3. Next, take the piece of acrylic with the hinges on it and align it with the top of the swinging door of the base. Drill the acrylic into the top of the door. Drill very careful to avoid splitting the wood!
Step 6: Creating the Irrigation Tubes
1. Position the bin to where it will be inside the base. Then, mark a circular hole in the corner of the bin and on the floor of the base.
2. Drill through this marked hole in the bin and the base. Insert the PVC coupler and secure with epoxy.
3. Next, laser cut (or drill) small circle that is the diameter of the inside of the coupler. Then laser cut four small holes the diameter of the tubes into it.
4. Insert each tube into the small holes and glue with Epoxy. Then, insert the small circle into the PVC coupler and secure with Epoxy. Clamp for a minimum of 24 hours.
Step 7: Adding the Bin
1. Position the bin where it will eventually be glued and mark each corner.
2. Cut one 2"x1" and two 1"x1" pieces of wood. Use epoxy to glue the 2"x1" piece to the back left corner of the base. Glue the each of the two smaller pieces to the front left and back right. This will create a small tilt for the bin so the water will flow to the tubing.
3. Cut a circular hole the diameter of the PVC Male Adapter into the bottom right corner of the bin and through the bottom of the base. Secure in the adapter through the bottom of the base.
4. Put a generous amount of epoxy on top of each of the small pieces of wood in the corners and place the bin on top. Making sure the top of the adapter goes inside the bin, seal it's surrounding edges with epoxy.
5. Put weights (we used measuring tapes) inside the bin over the glued areas and let sit for 24 hours.
Step 8: Building the Dehumidifier
The components of the dehumidifier are a Fan, Large and small heat sink, a Peltier chip, and thermal compound paste. Our group's project built two dehumidifiers to maximize the amount of water we could generate.
1. If using a large heat sink separate from the fan, use a thin layer thermal compound paste to glue the heat sink underneath the fan.
2. Use a thin layer of thermal compound paste to attach the Peltier chip to the bottom of the large heat sink. Make sure the side with the series of numbers is facing away from the large heat sink*
3. Use a thin layer of thermal compound paste to glue the small heat sink underneath the Peltier chip.
4. Let the dehumidifier's paste sit for an upwards of 36 hours.
*The Peltier chips have two sides, one with heating properties and the other with cool. It is very important to put the warm side facing the large heat sink and the cool side (with the series of numbers) facing the small heat sink. This will ensure the process of water generation can succeed, as it allows humidity to condense and form moisture. https://www.marlow.com/how-do-thermoelectric-coole...
Step 9: Programming Arduino
Our group used an Arduino microcontroller in order to turn our fans and system on and off. For our system, we used Arduino Sparkfun, but the system should work with other types of Arduino microcontrollers. The image above shows how the circuit is connected to Arduino. Upload these codes to the microcontroller.
Step 10: Connecting the Solar Panel-to-Dehumidifier Circuit
1. Solder the positive wires of both the dehumidifier's fans and peltier chips together. Do the same for the dehumidifier. Note: If wires aren't exposed, use a wire cutter and stripper to expose about 1/4" of the end.
2. Connect the solar panels to the Solar Charge Controller by putting each one's positive wires to the positive input of the controller. Do the same with the negative wires.
3. Connect the positive output of the controller with the positive input of the 12v Lead Acid Internal Battery. Do the same with the negative wires, respectively.
4. Connect the positive output of the battery with the positive input of the Arduino Uno. Do the same with the negative wires.
5. Connect the positive output of the Arduino Uno with all the positive inputs of the dehumidifier's fans as well as the Thermoelectric Peltier Chips in a series circuit.
6. Connect the Arduino Uno positive and negative outputs with the relay.
7. Connect the relay with all negative inputs of each of the dehumidifier's fans as well as the Thermoelectric Peltier Chips in a series circuit.
Note: Our group used a larger battery so we incorporated a breaker into our circuit. However, a breaker is not needed if using the materials we have suggested on the materials page.
Step 11: Final Product
The last step before finishing this project is to simply compile the components! This is done in three simple steps.
1. Cut out two small square holes on the lid of the bin. Place the dehumidifiers on top and secure.
2. Use an adhesive to secure the solar panels face-up underneath the roof of the base.
3. Secure the controller box and the battery along the side of the bin inside the base. If the previous steps have been followed, they should not be at risk of water damage.
You have completed constructing the dehumidifier-irrigation system. Congratulations!