Yes, you can turn air into wa­ter

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER news@city­press.co.za

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.

TALK TO US Do you think the govern­ment is do­ing enough to re­solve SA’s drought prob­lems? Should it take ad­van­tage of this tech­nol­ogy for your ben­e­fit?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word WA­TER and tell us what you think.

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PHOTO: SIYANDA MAYEZA

DRINK YOUR FILL 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

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