Yes, you can turn air into water

2016-11-06 06:05
Ray de Vries scores a world first as a five-star hotel in Thailand gets set to receive all its water needs from his Water From Air technology, which draws water from the atmosphere. (Siyanda Mayeza, City Press)

Ray de Vries scores a world first as a five-star hotel in Thailand gets set to receive all its water needs from his Water From Air technology, which draws water from the atmosphere. (Siyanda Mayeza, City Press)

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Durban innovator Ray de Vries has seen his wildest dream of “turning air into water” become a reality and an economic success.

“We are constantly looking at new uses and new applications for our technology. We have to be innovative if we are to survive the worst drought since 1904,” he said.

De Vries, whose Water From Air technology draws water from thin air through a condensation and filtration process, is working on raising the money needed to make the technology available for drought relief.

“We are hopeful that, with investors, sponsors and financial aid, we will be in a position to change thousands and thousands of people’s lives,” said De Vries.

Meanwhile, Water From Air is about to start a trial project with a major international hotel group in Thailand, which will provide 220 rooms in a five-star hotel with water.

“We’re very excited about the project,” said De Vries, who declined to name the hotel group because the trial has not yet begun.

“We have designed and manufactured a one-stop water-from-air bottling plant, which will provide a hotel with all of its water needs. This is the first hotel in the world that will use only water from air for the guest’s rooms, conference centres, restaurants and bars,” he said.

If the pilot project – which goes live on December 3 – is a success, it will be adopted by the hotel group’s 43 Thai resorts, a major coup for the South African company, which is now competing globally.

Water From Air’s technology draws in air, cools it and then sanitises the water from condensation through ultraviolet light before passing it through a filtration process in a single machine.

The water produced is absolutely pure and remineralised, with the smallest machine producing 32 litres a day and the largest producing 1 000 litres.

The filtration and bottling unit for the hotel project left South African shores by ship last week, with De Vries and a technical team set to follow later this month to commission the plant, the first of its kind.

De Vries said the hotel’s plant, contained in a 12m-long trailer with two machines that can generate up to 1 500 litres of water per day, complete with a bottling unit, was totally sustainable as bottles would be sterilised, refilled and recapped.

De Vries said the unit for the Phuket trial had been tested after being manufactured and assembled in Johannesburg, and it “works beautifully”.

Water From Air, which has made several presentations to the UN, which is considering using its 1 000-litre mobile units for emergency work, has also been asked by the government of Abu Dhabi to display at a major international water conference in the Gulf state in January.

Domestically, the company has made massive growth since its first units were sold late in 2014. At that time, the units were manufactured in China and Water From Air consisted of De Vries and a partner. There are now eight full-time staff members in Durban and another 40 workers at the Johannesburg manufacturing plant.

“There is nine times more water in the air than in all the oceans of the world, and it is much less polluted than water stored in our dams and rivers. We have machines that harvest pure water from the air, whether it is for home and office use or to take your home, office or building off the water grid completely,” De Vries said.

He is currently conducting trials with a 4x4 unit for use in difficult terrain and a shipboard unit is being tested on a yacht.

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Read more on:    innovation  |  sustainability

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