The Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) tied up with a city-based private research organisation to exploit a perennial source of water to address its scarcity — air.
IICT director S. Chandrashekar and founder of Maithri Aquatech, K. Ramakrishna, signed an MoU to manufacture Atmospheric Water Generators (AWG) that can produce as much as 1,000 litres of water per day. The generators trap moisture in the air to output water. “The water produced is of very high purity and safe for drinking. A generator can be installed even for a community as small as 40 people,” said Mr. Ramakrishna of Maithri Aquatech, which developed the AWG.
The water produced from condensation can be stored for as along six months without contamination, Maithri’s engineers said.
The generator, to be named Meghdoot, is a machine that works like an air-conditioner to condense moisture into water, and consumes about 240 units of power in a day to produce 1,000 litres of water.
IICT scientists said the water produced would be free of organic and inorganic impurities. “The water condensed is passed through an ultra-filtration membrane and re-mineralised. Water obtained by condensation is lacking in minerals and essential nutrients which need to be added,” said S. Sridhar, principal scientist at IICT, which is providing the filtration and re-mineralisation technology.
An AWG has been installed on a pilot basis on IICT’s campus in Habsiguda. As part of the deal, 100 AWG units will be produced, starting August this year. Maithri will manufacture the machines at IICT. Efforts are now on to make the prototype smaller in form as it now stands at about 12 feet.
The MoU also envisages indigenous production of AWGs to cut cost while addressing water scarcity. Each unit that Maithri Aquatech and IICT make could cost around ₹10 lakh. Experts said the cost of similar generators available in the country is significantly higher as the design and production of components has to be imported for assembly in India.
Prof. Arun Tiwari, a close associate of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and a mentor for IICT, said he hoped public-sector institutions will facilitate installation of the generators in remote regions of water scarcity. “Addressing water quality will help improve public health. Public-sector institutions like the Navaratna companies, banks and others should see that these generators can go to areas that need them.”