With climate change, the world is probably going through its worst existential crisis in history. Raging forest fires, flash floods and rising water levels in the oceans are all ominous signs that all is not well.
Among the various problems that India faces is the rapidly depleting water tables and, even after receiving rains that are the best in the last couple of decades, the lands remain parched. Water to quench the needs of a thirsty nation continues to be in short supply and most villages do not have access to potable water.
With demand for water already far more than the supply, the country remains one of the most water-stressed countries globally. According to a recent report by Niti Aayog, 21 of the major cities in India, including Bengaluru and Hyderabad, are expected to run out of ground water by the year 2020.
The founder of Maithri Aquatech, Mr Ramkrishna, is one such person who has been observing, with rising concern, people around him suffering on account of lack or the poor quality of water. Intensely aware that the situation is only getting worse, he set about finding a solution that involved not just managing the problem, but one that was a suitable and self-sustainable alternative.
His eureka moment came when he realized the solution was literally staring at him in the face: atmospheric air, which has enough moisture to meet the entire requirement of mankind.
“The atmosphere holds a lot of moisture, and this moisture is an everlasting source of water that is free for the taking. The water that evaporates from the ocean is 850 billion litres in a single day, which is nearly equivalent to 60 days of mankind’s requirements. By extracting it, we not only get pure drinking water but also save our ground water,” says Ramkrishna, who launched his firm in 2016.
Maithri Aquatech was formed under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Its engineers soon came out with its innovative technology of eco-friendly fresh Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) ‘Meghdoot’ that helps in extracting water out of thin air.
Meghdoot (‘messenger of the clouds’) is highly scalable and available in different capacities, ranging from 30 litres per day to 2,000 litres per day, and can be customised basis the requirement of the customers.
As such, the potable water requirements of homes and small offices, right up to the daily requirements of a community or an industry, can be met. Ramakrishna points out that the cost of a litre of water is in the region of Rs. 2 per litre. Using renewable sources like wind/solar energy brings down the costs to around 75 paise/litre and can further offset any environmental impact.
The process involves drawing the moisture-laden air from the atmosphere, which after due filtration is passed into a cooling chamber leading to water formation. This water is then passed through multi-level filtration and is then fortified with essential minerals necessary for human consumption.
The process meets, if not exceeds, standards set by the World Health Organisation, as well as Indian Standards for drinking water, using technology developed at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.
Meghdoot not only generates the purest form of water but also ensures that the water which is generated is mineralised to ensure that it is potable. It is a smart solution, which is not only IoT-ready (Internet of Things) but can meet its energy requirements, either through the grid or through renewable resources.
It has been approved by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti and also by the Environment Protection Training and Research Institute, Hyderabad, as being environmentally friendly.
The company launched the world’s first ‘air-to-water kiosk’ at Secunderabad railway station to meet the safe drinking water needs of commuters at an affordable price. Maithri Aquatech plans to replicate this initiative in other public places across the country to ensure that people on the move get access to fresh potable water.
“Companies who are large consumers of ground water should play a major role by being technology demonstrators and early adaptors of such revolutionary solutions,” urges Ramakrishna.
Maithri Aquatech has already seen tremendous traction around its innovative product with enquires coming in from different parts of the world. “In the short term we aim to meet the requirements (domestic and commercial segments) of water-stressed regions in India, before expanding our footprint to other water-stressed regions of the world,” he concludes.