Sunday, June 08, 2008

Water from Air

Problem: As part of evolution, a 100,000 years ago or so, humans learnt that Food is the primary need. I believe, his first innovation is in the thinking that storing the food enables him to have it during odd environment conditions such as rainy, cold, etc. After he found a way to store food (pickle is the foremost innovation in this regard), the next biggest problem for him was to get drinking water. So he wanted to be near water channels, first to get water and second to kill an animal which reaches for water (later for farming purposes). If you observe the history, the whole civilization was all sided by the river beds. Such a oldest problem, which has been known for many thousands of years, human is still struggling to get water (one more hidden variable here, that is increasing population).

Current scenario: I can't resist myself without crying whenever I see rural women spend their most part of life in just fetching the water from near by wells. In many villages, one single well is served for 5-10 villages. A woman carries multiple pots (one on another) is a typical scene anywhere in those villages. And if you feel like it is just a concern of rural problem then you are grossly mistaken. When I used to live in Chennai (or Madras), a queue of hundreds of water pots near every public tap is a very very common scenario.

Is it not silly, if you feel that: water, water everywhere but nowhere a drop of it to drink. Yes, most of part of the earth is water, however 97% of it is salty one. Does it not sound like a technical problem?

Australia, UK, US, etc are spending billions of dollars on installing desalination plants, wherein salt water is converted into fresh drinkable water. What is that in this process which makes it billions of dollars cost? It is for the energy which is required during the reverse osmosis process in order to apply pressure.

What I believe is that out-of-the-box techniques are needed in order to solve the problem for billions of people. One such attempt is this "Water from the Air".

Did you ever observe that if salt is placed outside then it contains a small pieces of stones. Yes, it is after capturing the water from the atmosphere. Many technologists believe that there is a river running in the air everywhere including desert places. Using this philosophy, Aquasciences have developed a machine to produce 600 gallons of water in a day at the cost of about 7 cents (or about 3 Rs) per litre. This technology is used by American Soldiers in Iraq where the cost of logistics of bottled water is running pretty high. You may love to see the following news clip covering this technology.

Unfortunately in India, till now there are no large scale attempts in this regard. And yes, this post is about my lifetime ambitions to solve these basic problems of humans such as food, water, etc.

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