Eli5: Why can’t can’t we just vacuum up clouds if they are just water vapor?



Eli5: Why can’t can’t we just vacuum up clouds if they are just water vapor?


You can! You would need a special filter that causes the cloud to condense — go from its gassy, vapour state to a water droplet state. The average cloud contains enough water to fill two Olympic swimming pools, so you’d want a pretty big vacuum too!

Why would you want to do that. And what would you do with the tons of water that you would collect?

Anyway to correct your assertion, they are not water vapour but water droplets, mostly microscopic in size. If they were water **vapour** you wouldn’t be able to “vacuum them up” as, like any gas, they would pass straight through a filter.

They have volumes of Millions of cubic meters. Say a cloud 1 mile by 1 mile and half a mile thick would be roughly 2 billion cubic meters. And then water vapor is only about 4% of that. Not only would it take an immense amount of energy, So what’s your goal? To make the clouds go away?

You’d need a vacuum bag that same size, and a single vacuum cleaner would take about 1 billion minutes to suck up that volume of air. That’s about 1900 years. Make it 2000 vacuum cleaners, that would only take about a year to suck up the cloud. Use 4000kw, cost about 9 million dollars in electricity over that year.

And then we’re back to…What’s your goal? If it’s making the cloud go away it would have blown away already.

Compress/condense it into water? You could truck water, desalinate it from the ocean, pipe it from somewhere far more practically than sucking up clouds.