This team of Engineers is on a mission to produce potable water from thin air

This team of Engineers is on a mission to produce potable water from thin air

When Ramesh Kumar Soni started preparing for his engineering entrance exams, he only had IIT in his mind. During this time, he came across the term ‘nanotechnology’ and decided to spend some of his time learning about it. While he was preparing in Kota, Rajasthan for his engineering exams, his mind often wandered to the exciting field of nanotechnology.

Even though his dream of getting into one of the IITs did not turn into reality, Soni found another dream. He got into SRM University to pursue B.Tech and focus on the study of nanotechnology. After finishing his degree in 2014, he joined the chemistry faculty of IIT-Madras as a project associate.

After his dedicated research and experiments for three years, Soni, along with T. Pradeep, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Ankit Nagar, a Ph.D student, co-founded Vayujal—a start-up that developed atmospheric water generators, or AWGs.

AWGs extract pure and potable water from the thin and humid air. Till now, the team has developed five units of AWG out of which, four extract 100 litres of water in a day, and one generates almost 400 litres per day.

Still wondering how does it work?

Well, Ramesh explained the same to a source, “This condensed water is filtered, treated, mineralized and made fit for drinking or cooking. The structures used for cooling the air draw inspiration from cacti. Just as the cacti have small thorn-like structures, the cooling surface in the AWG too has some structures that are used to cool the air. When air passes through it, the relative humidity content goes high, and water starts to come out of it. The rate at which water is produced depends on the ambient temperature, humidity level, volume of air passing over the coil and the unit’s capacity to cool the coil.”

There are a lot many reasons that make these AWGs better than the normal supply of water. Firstly, they are non-conventional. With cities such as Chennai and Bengaluru that are almost living in drought-like conditions, these inexhaustible source of water generations is definitely a boon. Vayujal uses solar units to develop around 2000 litres of water per day.

Secondly, these AWCs generate more litres of water at a comparatively less price than the usual water-generation sources. The cost of water generation by AWCs is around Rs. 1.5 to 3 per litre in general. However, the price of the water generation depends on electricity tariffs, relative humidity and ambient temperature.

 Lastly, these generators are aimed to be less time-consuming and more proficient. Even though, this feat is still a work-in-progress, it would be all right to say that the consistent effort of the team Jalvayu will soon turn it into a reality.

“For every litre of water we produce, we consume 0.3 to 0.4 units of electricity. We need to bring that down so that it is affordable. If we go below 0.3 units per litre daily under Delhi’s semi-arid like climate, we would be happy. That will be a real milestone,” explains Ramesh.

Well, here’s wishing you the best in all your endeavors, Ramesh. May you protect the planet from its very-near water crisis!