Could water scarcity be made a scar of the past?


Every multi-cellular organism needs water for its survival in some way or the other. In fact, one of the reasons for Earth being a habitable planet is because of the presence of this elixir of life, ie water. But then only 2.5% of the earth's surface is filled with fresh water in which hardly less than 1% is accessible to us. So one can understand how much it is important to use this valuable resource in the most optimized manner. Despite its importance, our modernized society has failed to protect its precious resource. Many rivers of the past, once a lifeline for thousands of people got disappeared. There are still millions living in this world who walk miles apart just to get a glass full of water. The water crisis has already led to delirious consequences in many parts of the world. Even a delayed or below-average monsoon in a particular region brings profound miseries.

It's not just living organisms, but each and every product made in this world consumes water for its creation. Right from a pair of jeans to hydroelectric power generation, from cooking to manufacturing smartphones everything needs water. According to the UN, an estimated 1.8 billion people would be living in water-scarce areas in 2025, five years from now. Though the recent technology development has given us Desalination plants, Fog catchers, Solar powered water filtration to produce freshwater, it's implementation is restricted only to few areas only. So, isn't there a solution to have a system to be used anywhere?

Yes, the simple solution is to collect water available in the atmosphere! More than 10 lakh crore liters of water exists in the atmosphere. Wouldn't it be so great if we could tap this resource effectively? Well if you think this would be possible only in the dream world, then you are wrong. A team of scholars from Chennai have developed a unique Atmospheric water generator(AWG) to produce water from the air we breathe.

Vayujal, a startup incubated by IIT MADRAS, by MS scholar Ramesh Kumar, professor T Pradeep and Ph.D. scholar Ankit Nagar, has developed this game changer product. In a switch of a button, one would be able to get pure water in a fraction of second. The working of any AWG is simple. It sucks the surrounding humid air, filters and passes it to a cold surface where condensation takes place and gets collected in a tank. Then the water is added with minerals like calcium, Magnesium, etc.. to make it into drinking water. Though there are many AWG in the world, what sets Vayujal's AWG apart is their effective condensation at low cost than any other competitors in the market.

This achievement is attributed to their use of a nano-engineered surface for condensation. This made them reduce their cost. Though their 100 liter capacity(per day) AWG costs 1.5 lakh rupees, many corporates and organizations have found it to be economical in the long run because it cost just Rs 500 per month for 10 years to produce 30000 liters of freshwater in a month. But in order to make this AWG more affordable to ordinary people, Vayujal has been working on its miniature model of 30 liters capacity AWG. The only constrain for their AWG is the percentage of moisture in the air that is always available for their minimum requirement except in arid desert areas and Vayujal's team is working on AWG to suit the climatic conditions of arid areas like Rajasthan?

Vayujal's AWG has been implemented in many offices at Chennai and soon they are moving towards their goal of having an affordable AWG at each and every corner. One need not worry about the imbalance which might get created because of the condensation since quadrillion of water exists and we are utilizing only a micro part of it. Imagine a day where every household has a total control over their supply of freshwater and Vayujal is working towards it. Let's anticipate for an affordable AWG in the very near future equipped with indigenous technology!!!

Article by Hayagrivan Balaji

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