By Ayush Verma
Published on: Apr 11, 2018
Bengaluru and Hyderabad based startup, Uravu Labs, rightly described as a “Water Innovation Company,” is in the process of tackling the global water crisis. They have come up with the idea of turning water vapour or the humidity in our atmosphere into drinkable water.
They plan to achieve this by using their modular and scalable in-house designed and developed aquapanel, ‘S.W.A.G.’ which can harvest water from the air utilising only solar energy. Based on the startup’s patent-pending solar adsorption reactor technology. The idea came up in 2013 when Swapnil Shrivastav (Founder and CEO) and his friend were working on a college project at NIT, Calicut. By 2016 when they began working on the prototype a core team of six members were on the project and they came up with the condensation model. Which brings the air below dew point temperature and turns water vapours into liquid, distilled water and later minerals and salts were added to make the water potable. However, because it needed electricity to compress the air, and wasn’t suitable for low humidity areas the team then came up with S.W.A.G.
The hygroscopic material in the Aquapanel absorbs water vapours from the air in the night and during the day, it heats up using the power of the sun and releases the water back. Making the process completely green and a viable sustainable method for crisis hit areas.
Los Angeles-based XPRIZE have been at it for two years now trying to create water out of thin air or atmosphere, in the form of an incentive competition. To solve this freshwater creation challenge, the Water Abundance XPRIZE competition, is up for grabs for teams that can harvest freshwater straight out of the air.
Uravu is one of the top 5 global finalists that have been selected for the $1.75 million Water Abundance XPRIZE, it is the only team from India out of 98 registered teams from 25 counties. The competition supported by Australia Aid and the Tata group requires the finalists to create a device that can extract a minimum of 2,000 litres of water everyday from air using 100% renewable energy, at a cost of two cents (1.2 rupees) per litre. While talking to the Deccan Herald, Shrivastav said, “To get the prize, we have to make a 2,000 litre-a-day version which works on 100% renewable energy. Our current capacity is 15-20 litres.”
The finalists will begin round 2 testing in July 2018 at a location to be determined, where teams must fully demonstrate that their device can extract water as per the requirements of the challenge.
The team had also tested their first project AVA in Hyderabad, Kozhikode and Bengaluru using their initial condensation based model. It yielded around 200 litres of water a day at a cost of 1.5-2 rupees per litre. But with the newer, more efficient, green and economical model using the S.W.A.G. aquapanels the yield is expected to be much greater at a smaller financial outlay.
Shrivastav sees huge potential in the technology, claiming that their technology will work in areas where government water supply mechanisms do not work. And in areas where the groundwater is unfit for drinking, in all such areas with a shortage of clean and potable water the amount of water vapour in the air is very high and if their technology is widely accepted it’ll guarantee a continuous and clean supply of water.
Uravu, if also one of the 12 shortlisted startups for ELECRAMA 2018 Start-up Awards, organised by Indian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturer’s Association (IEEMA).