Drought crisis? Just turn the air into water

2017-12-24 06:04
Ray de Vries scores a world first with the fitting of a five star hotel in Abu Dhabi to be completely supplied with all its water needs by his Water From Air technology, which draws water from the atmosphere. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza

Ray de Vries scores a world first with the fitting of a five star hotel in Abu Dhabi to be completely supplied with all its water needs by his Water From Air technology, which draws water from the atmosphere. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza

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As Cape Town’s dams run dry, a local entrepreneur has started to sell water that has been produced by turning air into the scare resource.

The worsening drought crisis in Cape Town prompted Ray de Vries to expand his water harvesting business in the Mother City. The innovation draws moisture out of the air and converts it into clean, potable water.

Speaking to City Press, De Vries explained that he sold one of his machines to Brendan Williamson. At full capacity, the machine can produce 1 500 litres of water a day.

Calling his new company Cape Airwater, Williamson has since opened a small-scale plant that supplies bottled water to several restaurants and conference venues across the dry city.

“I met up with Ray and, after a few months of research, I bought one of his bigger units. The machine produces between 750 and 900 litres of water a day, which is then manually transferred into 500ml bottles,” Williamson told City Press.

“We have three people on staff – two of whom bottle the water. The third works as a packer.”

Williamson said the company was growing and his bottled water would be appearing on shelves in grocery stores in Cape Town soon. He added that Cape Airwater planned to produce larger bottles of water in the new year, including 750ml, 2 litres and 5 litres.

“We will also be hiring a seller in the new year who will be responsible for branding and for growing the product.”

Williamson added that Gourmet Foods Distributors, which supplies products to hundreds of restaurants in Cape Town, has signed on to supply Cape Airwater’s merchandise in the city.

The company also minimises the effect of plastic waste on the environment by using recycled plastic.

While De Vries markets the invention as the solution to the Mother City’s water woes, the Western Cape department of water affairs and sanitation remains sceptical. Spokesperson Malusi Rayi told City Press that the department used this type of device in its office some years ago, but “it was found to be adequate only on a limited scale”.

“There have been studies on interventions to augment supplies in the water supply system. However, all of these efforts have not been adequate to counter the debilitating effects of inadequate rainfall,” Rayi said.

De Vries’ company, Airwater Group, markets machines of varying capacities. The smallest, which costs about R26 500, can produce 33 litres a day, while the largest can produce 5 000 litres a day and sells for R2.8m.

“Not every person can afford the machine. However, the more people we have drinking from the air, the more water there is left in the country’s rivers and dams,” De Vries said.

De Vries said he would introduce the world’s first “swimming pool topper” in January. The machine draws water from the air to fill up a swimming pool.

The businessman said he also hoped to help the healthcare sector.

“I am looking at kidney dialysis, which requires pure water at hospitals,” he said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis  |  water

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