Globally, 1 in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. But seeing as the atmosphere is filled with water vapor, there could, as Israeli startup Water-Gen explains, be a simple solution. The team has developed a portable water generator that creates and collects condensation out of thin air. The piece of kit called the the Atmospheric Water Generation Unit is capable of generating 3,000 liters of water per day or 125 liters per hour. Water-Gen says that the technology will be of particular value in areas that don’t have drinkable tap water and in locations that are warm and humid. Arye Kohavi, founder and co-CEO of Water-Gen, explains what sparked the idea and how it works.
What inspired you to create Water-Gen?
As army officers, we understand the criticality of water supply under combat conditions and the logistic complexity involved in keeping soldiers well hydrated anywhere. The original idea was to deliver safe drinking water to soldiers at the front at anytime, anywhere. And so we came up with the idea of water from air, as a solution that enables water generation on site, where its most needed. But most importantly, it’s sourced from a renewable and abundant source that never runs dry.
Could you explain how Water-Gen extracts water from the air?
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Simplifying the process, we create condensation, then treat the water and keep it fresh. What makes our technology unique is that our heat exchanger called the GENius module, which is designed from thin plastic leaves (a thermally low-conductive material and an integral evaporator), stacked together to form a dual alternating air-streams that counter-flow to generate a gradient heat exchanger. The use of plastic is unique, allowing gradient cooling and heating of the air streams, while water condensation is limited to a small, predestined area.
This revolutionary design makes the GENius the world’s most energy-efficient dehumidification device and AWG module of its kind, capable of generating water at 300wh/liter, or in other words 3.35 liters of water for one kilowatt of electricity.
Is the water generated by this process completely safe for human consumption?
The atmosphere is our planet's single source of fresh drinking water.
Polluted drinking water occurs due to either biological or chemical contamination. The vast majority of that pollution happens after the water hits the ground. Our air filter is similar to an air purifier and as an extra safeguard, we also clean the water. Our water meets the US and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health organization (WHO) standards for drinking water.
How much time is required to obtain a liter of water from the air?
It depends on the system and the climate. For instance, in world standard conditions (80Fand 60%RH), our large scale system can manufacture 3,000 liters per day or 125 liters per hour, while our GENNY unit, which is for home use, can manufacture 20 liters per day or 0.8 liters per hour. In humid countries like India, Brazil or the Philippines, the systems produce 30-40 percent more water.
What is the principal mission of Water-Gen?
Our vision is that people will be able to generate fresh drinking water every day, all year round, by tapping into one of our planet’s unlimited resources — the air. This will improve the quality of life for billions of people that suffer from poor water sanitation or accessibility to safe drinking water.
Generating water directly from the air enables Water-Gen's solutions to be completely independent and autonomous, requiring no infrastructure what so ever but electricity, making it literally a plug and drink solution.
Which countries are you targeting with this product?
We target countries and areas where people's default drinking water is bottled or packaged water, either due to a lack of running water or because of water quality. Most countries that have poor drinking water are hot and humid, like India, South China, Mexico, Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria… Our water solutions are applicable for both commercial home use and for industrial applications.
Are you also planning to sell this device to the general public?
Yes. The GENNY unit was devised for specifically that market. We are in the final stages of mass production and commercialization of the GENNY.