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Pulling water out of thin air, literally

India
Typography

An air-to-water technology is set to enter the country

The country gets its water from two main sources, rivers and ground water. Today both are under threat. One is polluted beyond use and the other depleting at a fast pace. Add to this the yearly threat of drought and you have a scenario...


An air-to-water technology is set to enter the country

The country gets its water from two main sources, rivers and ground water. Today both are under threat. One is polluted beyond use and the other depleting at a fast pace. Add to this the yearly threat of drought and you have a scenario that is not at all encouraging currently or in the future.

While the Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030 India will have a water deficit of 50 per cent, the Centre has estimated the country’s current water requirements at around 1,100 billion cubic metres per year.

These are the hard facts that Gaurav Goenka had in mind when he chose to invest in a water technology totally new to the country that produces water using neither river nor ground resources. It uses air to produce water. And with this he hopes to make a contribution towards filling the gap in a scenario where an estimated 76 million people have no access to safe water supply.

Goenka is the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) at his start up, Kindle Ventures. Keen to build a social impact, innovation focused business, he has tied up with Canadian-based Dutch company Rainmaker Worldwide Inc. to bring its air-to-water technology to India.

Brainchild of Piet Oosterling, Chief Technology Director, Rainmaker Worldwide Inc., the patented invention christened Rainmaker uses the simple scientific principle of condensation to produce water. And how does it do this? It uses an innovative heat pump system, which is driven by a custom designed wind turbine or solar system or even a hybrid or conventional grid power to produce distilled water from the air depending on the climatic conditions.

The technology

The Rainmaker website gives more tech details. “The heat pump delivers cooling to a heat exchanger. Lowering the temperature of air requires minimal energy,” it says. “Ambient air flows through the heat exchanger and is cooled below its dewpoint resulting in condensation. Water droplets are then collected in a water storage compartment for use.”

“Basically it replicates mother nature and gives you rain water. And what’s unique is that it uses renewable energy for the purpose and requires no supporting infrastructure, which makes it cost effective and climate friendly.” explains Goenka calculating that the water produced would cost 50p per litre and each machine could produce 5,000 litres when run for 24 hours.

“I am looking at technology transfer and building the machine in India,” he says. “It will give jobs, be cost effective and have a social impact.” The young CIO, whose family owns the Kolkata-based plywood company, Kitply, is also looking at a water-to-water option where used water, saline orsewage water can be transformed into potable water.

“A portfolio of water technologies could have multiple uses in India,” says Goenka. Apart from the Government, municipal corporations and communities that face water scarcity, industries too has been facing acute shortage of water. He would like to help bridge the gap.

(This article was published on September 26, 2017)

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