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Drinking-water from air: SA firm’s water generator

Drinking-water from air: SA firm’s water generator

Aug 24, 2015

South Africa based Cirrus Water Management (CWM), has pioneered a harvesting technology that generates clean drinking water from the ambient atmosphere. Based simply on the cooling-condensation principle, the air drawn into the machine’s condensation chamber is cooled to a temperature at which the water vapour within the air begins to condense, generating water.

The technology developed locally by CWM works best for Africa’s varied conditions and can be tuned to perform optimally across the different geographies.

Over the coming decades, water is only going to become a more precious resource. Although the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and dams like Vaal and Berg River will continue to supply water, it is expected that advanced technology like atmospheric water generation will create new supply lines for drinking water to balance the depleting commodity.

Changing climatic patterns have made it abundantly clear that water scarcity is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Droughts in many parts of the world compounded further by the contamination of ground water reserves through fracking, acid mine drainage and agricultural runoffs continue to put pressure on available water sources.

Already the quality of water from the Vaal River has been called to question and continues to be contaminated by untreated sewage as well as acid mine drainage.

Bruce Jones, Commercial Director at Cirrus Water Management says: “The frequency, geographical spread and associated violence of service delivery protests over water among other social demands, has squarely shown that water scarcity is now a mainstream concern.”

South Africans use between 10 to 15 percent of water for drinking, cooking and washing. With the country already classified as water scarce with extreme climate and rainfall fluctuations, this demand to an extent can easily be taken off the grid especially in urban areas.

CWM has already installed atmospheric water generators (AWG) at both mining and construction sites in Southern Africa and is now hoping to convince property companies and office parks to install AWGs on site to reduce dependency on utilities as well as bottled water.

One of the more dramatic shifts in consumption in recent years has been the explosive growth of bottled water. South Africans spend over R2 billion on bottled water annually. Bottled water, besides being expensive, also leaves a steep environmental impact.

For every 1000 litres of bottled water consumed, over 300 kg CO2 is generated. A litre of bottled mineral water generates up to 600 times more carbon dioxide than a litre of tap water. The manufacture of every ton of PET produces around 3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Furthermore transporting bottled water to retail outlets or points of use adds to emission levels.

Jones adds: “There are significant benefits in installing atmospheric water generators in office parks. The generators run on far less power than appliances like kettles, cost less than bottled water and most importantly reduce plastic bottle waste as the water is piped directly to the dispenser.”

Atmospheric water is produced on site, stored in tanks and piped directly to where it needs to be consumed. The process completely eliminates the need to transport or package the water for drinking. The AWGs are engineered to be as efficient as possible and can also operate on renewable energy sources.

CWM is the only company of its kind in the country and offers the most comprehensive range of atmospheric water generators (AWG’s). The company’s AWGs range from machines capable of producing 100l/d to 1000l/d. The system is scalable as units can be linked to form a series to produce water on demand.

AWGs can find applications in offices, oil and gas exploration sites, shipping, mining, military, hospitals & schools.

Cirrus has also developed a custom solution that checks water production, water stocks, machine productivity and up-time remotely without having to drive to the site. The software identifies potential problems at the installation early thereby ensuring business continuity and availability of the life sustaining commodity.

“The looming water shortages will require technological innovations, as well as more efficient devices and we believe that AWGs are a step change in that direction. They also offer a green and healthy alternative to tap or bottled water,” he concludes.


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