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The Economic Times

Converting air to water: Small companies make great strides in water generation

We know that electricity can be created from sunlight and coal can be made from wood. But, now it is possible to get water from thin air on a scale that can make a real difference. Water is not a commodity yet, but it may soon be, so here is what may help when society hits that stumbling block.

The magic begins

One such company, Akvo, has come up with a generator that can create water out of the atmosphere by condensing moisture.

“In a winter morning, you may see dew on your car. We are trying to replicate that very natural condensation process; of converting the moisture in the air into potable drinking water. To be very honest, history suggests that even the Mayans did it so it is indeed not an original idea,” says Navakaran Singh Bagga, the Director of the Kolkata-based company. However, he claims that what makes Akvo different is it is the lowest cost per litre in terms of power consumption. He adds that the machine can produce about 5,000 litres per day. This water is also filtered through processes like reverse osmosis and UV sterilisation lights.

The water could also be used for commercial applications as well – water ATMs, food production, bottling. This industrial unit consumes eight units of electricity per hour and produces 40 litres of water, which is 0.2 units per litre. Akvo’s industrial units became ready for the market in July this year.

Bagga adds, “We have put in about Rs Two Crore in just prototyping. We have a total size of Rs 50 crore. We are also aiming at hydroponics and aquaponics which are the mechanisms of growing fruit and vegetables without soil. It’s mainly an Israeli technology, but we have intentions of replicating it in India as well.”

The company said that the household machines are targeted to cost Rs 35,000 each and the industrial units around Rs 9 lakh. The household machines will be available from February 2018.

Popularity in India

Majid Barhami, Professor at Simon Fraser University was once quoted as saying, “One thing about atmospheric water is, you cannot dry out atmosphere. The atmosphere always has a bit of humidity. We were able to generate water in a desert-like climate which has not been done before.” Barhami, along with his PhD student Farshid Bagheri, had designed the Hybrid Atmospheric Water Generator. Although closer home, a professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, IIT Delhi, who did not want to be named, said that this process is not yet popular in India and is difficult to see it as a commercially viable option.

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