Hyderabad based startups’ atmospheric water generator provides clean drinking water without laying pipelines.
The Problem of Water Scarcity
Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink….
The dystopian scenario isn’t very far if we don’t mend our ways. Water, the element that gives our planet the name ‘Blue Planet’ and is its lifeforce is in dire danger. Many places have seen a drastic drop in their underground water levels in recent years causing water scarcity. Regions and cities across the planet are calculating when they will run out of water. And for many among those, including large Indian cities, the D-Day is in 2020-2022.
The rivers and aquifers have toxic amounts of effluents from industries and large cities. Continued unmindful extraction and pollution of natural resources is a sure death bell for humans and other life forms.
According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) released by the NITI Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
Despite over 70% of the Earth’s surface covered with water, the proportion usable by humans is less than 1%. Most of it is groundwater and fresh surface water sources like rivers, lakes, streams, etc. This results in a steep drop in their levels as the rate of consumption far exceeds the rate of replenishment.
A technology that can address multiple issues around water is based on harvesting water from the atmosphere. Maithri Aquatech Pvt. Ltd., an emergent player is trying to perfect and implement the same in the Indian context.
MEGHDOOT: The Game Changer
Founded in 2016 by Mr M Ramkrishna, Hyderabad-based Maithri Aquatech is working to provide water to far off areas of India, Asia and Africa. Their innovative product:‘MEGHDOOT’ named after the cloud messenger, is a condensation based atmospheric water generator that requires just electricity and air as the main inputs. Thus it literally makes water out of thin air, which is affordable and costs less than Rs 2/- per Litre. Variants of MEGHDOOT can be used to cater to diverse demands from individual households to buildings or campuses and even an entire city! It offers advantages like portability and can run on renewable energy sources like solar or wind energy or a combination of both.
Mr Ramkrishna wanted to devise a truly innovative and holistic solution that is suited to meet the ever-growing water requirements of developing nations. During the initial R&D phase, he came across atmospheric water harvesting technology and realised its potential because the atmosphere as a water resource was not being utilised. Research indicates that about 1% of atmospheric water can meet the demands of humans and other life forms. This technology doesn’t dry the atmosphere or disturb the natural processes, as has been validated by various experiments. Thus water harvesting technology has huge potential especially in high humidity areas like coastal cities, equatorial and tropical regions, etc.
More Details About The Venture
Since it doesn’t emit any pollutants or extract water from underground or surface sources thus it helps to save water. The water produced meets if not exceeds the WHO and Indian standards for potable water. However, initially, the harvested water lacked minerals. Thus minerals were added separately to water. This process is known as dosing of water which is being done thanks to the strategic tie-up the company has with IICT (Indian Institute of Chemical Technology). The company can generate multiple grades of water for specialised applications like dialysis, pharmaceuticals, hydroponics, etc. Its first installation came up in Rajasthan and it has been an upward journey since then.
The team has expanded to 30 people and their scale of operations has also increased. Currently, MEGHDOOT is installed at more than 200 places across the world and is being exported to about 12 countries, mostly in the Global South. It caters to B2C, B2B and B2G segments. Maithri Aquatech takes pride in being a 100% ‘Made in India ‘company. What sets it apart from its competitors is its economical and has highly scalable offerings along with room for customisation. Meghdoot’s decentralised nature and ability to significantly decrease the carbon footprint has led to national and international recognition.
Patrick Mwalua, known as The Waterman of Kenya, used to take water tankers to the dried watering holes of Tsavo West National Park. On hearing about Meghdoot’s capabilities, he visited their office and made arrangements to install it in Kenya to ensure water for the parched animals.
Overcoming Challenges In The Way
Their journey has not been without challenges. Being an emergent player, they have not taken to mass media marketing and advertising. Thus, awareness about their product has been mostly through word of mouth. However, they’ve taken to the digital domain to efficiently increase their visibility to the audience and it helps to drive their business. Coming up with a versatile and robust product that suits the rugged conditions of developing regions was also a challenge in the initial phase which the company overcome. The company is constantly undertaking research initiatives to further improve operational efficiencies and to make the product more robust so as to work in extremely dry areas and areas and areas having very low temperatures.
The Road To A Better Future
The team’s efforts have led to various installations across locations like railway stations, far off villages, army camps and even jungles. Low maintenance, minimal material input, fewer infrastructure requirements, portable nature, durability and ruggedness have made MEGHDOOT a reliable choice for those who select it.
Maithri Aquatech believes in constant improvement and continues to invest in R&D to meet the emergent needs. It is exploring possibilities for fog harvesting technologies and cooling towers for integration with MEGHDOOT. With the aim of making communities and India ‘Atmanirbhar’ for its water needs, Maithri Aquatech’s team is working relentlessly to provide clean water with minimum overhead costs and no pollution. It believes that if we are more aware of what and how we consume and the impact it has on our surroundings, we can definitely decrease our carbon footprint and become truly sustainable.
Holistic and decentralised solutions like MEGHDOOT can help address water issues across diverse areas and can come as a blessing for regions where infrastructure is not available.
Article by Subhav Duggal, Team ulaunch.