Water treatment Point of use Asia

Water from air: Watergen signs deal to bring AWG to India

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Israeli atmospheric water generation start-up, Watergen, has signed an agreement to bring the technology to India as the country aims to tackle water scarcity.

Water's in the air

Atmospheric water generation (AWG) start-up, Watergen, has signed an agreement with Indian conglomerate SMV Jaipuria Group to bring its technology to India as the country continues to face water challenges.

The Israeli company will bring its 'GENius' AWG technology to India where three-quarters of rural families do not have access to clean water.

As part of the joint venture, SMV Jaipuria Group will be responsible for the manufacturing of the GENius machines that produce clean potable water from the atmosphere.

"Drinking water scarcity is a global crisis and one the most pressing issues of our time.”

“Our purpose also is to develop innovative and cost-effective technologies that provide clean and safe drinking water without causing harm to nature, either directly or indirectly,” said Dr Michael Mirilashvili, President of Wategen.

Watergen's AWG system works by drawing humid air from the atmosphere, passing it through a filter to remove airborne contaminants such as dirt or dust.

The air is then passed through Watergen's GENius heat exchange where it is condensed into water. After filtration, ultraviolet (UV) lamps then kill any bacteria before the produced water is taken to an inbuilt storage tank, ready to be used.

"Drinking water scarcity is a global crisis and one the most pressing issues of our time,” Dr Mirilashvili went on to say. "We’ve set a goal to provide everyone with access to clean drinking water from [the] air.”

Is India running out of water?

India is home to 18 per cent of the world's population yet only has access to four per cent of the global freshwater sources.

On top of this, 30 per cent of the districts in India have reported that these freshwater sources are being overexploited as groundwater levels continue to decline.

“Through our GENius technology, we are fully geared to cater to the increasing industrial and consumer demand for better quality water in India.”

India is in urgent need of new ways to generate clean drinking water. According to NITI Aayog report in 2019, India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history, and almost 600 million of its population are water-deprived.

The report went on to say that 21 cities — including Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai — most likely exhausted their groundwater resources in 2021.

Doubling down on innovation

This new deal between Watergen and SMV Jaipuria Group is not the first time India has turned to innovation to help ease its water stress.

The World Bank reported that Chennai has become the first Indian city to recycle its wastewater at scale to meet the non-drinking water needs of its industries.

Once completed, two Tertiary Treatment Reverse Osmosis (TTRO) plants will be able to recycle about 20 per cent of Chennai’s sewage, enabling the city to reduce its consumption of freshwater.

Plus, an irrigation and flood management project in West Bengal is helping 2.7 million farmers access better irrigation services and improved protection against annual flooding to mitigate the impact of climate change.

By optimising the use of surface and groundwater and strengthening flood management, the project is helping boost agricultural productivity and increase incomes in rural areas.

India also developed two hydrology projects to use new systems to help predict future floods and droughts. The water resources monitoring system is now getting expanded to cover the entire country, including the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra-Barak river basins.

AWG competition heats up

It’s estimated there are 71 companies to date, with 32 companies actively selling in a market currently worth between $2 million-$10 million per year, according to the ‘Atmospheric Water Capture’ BlueTech Horizon Scan report.

Companies operating in this space include Majik Water, Watergen, SkySource, SunToWater, Drupps, Genaq and the new market entrant, Kara Water.

In 2018, the Skysource/Skywater Alliance won the $1.75m Water Abundance XPRIZE as a solution to harvest “fresh water from thin air”.

Technology sophistication varies greatly in the AWG market, from fog harvesting nets to smartphone monitored, digitally-enabled rooftop panels from Source that attracted a record $50m investment from BlackRock.

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