Bring­ing wa­ter to the world by trans­mu­ta­tion

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY CLAUDIA VIL­LANUEVA

Wa­ter scarcity con­tin­ues to in­crease around the world. Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions some 700 mil­lion peo­ple in 43 coun­tries suf­fer this calamity caused by over­ex­ploita­tion of wa­ter re­sources and the ir­ri­ga­tion of agri­cul­tural lands to en­hance pro­duc­tion when rain­fall is scarce.

In 2006 the United Na­tions an­nounced its In­ter­na­tional Decade for Ac­tion ‘Wa­ter for Life’ 2005-2015. The U.N. pre­dicts that 1.8 bil­lion peo­ple will be liv­ing in coun­tries or re­gions with “ab­so­lute wa­ter scarcity” by the year 2025.

The chal­lenge they iden­ti­fied is for the dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter re­sources in a re­spon­si­ble way, be­cause al­most half the world’s pop­u­la­tion will be liv­ing in ar­eas of high wa­ter stress by 2030, in­clud­ing be­tween 75 mil­lion and 250 mil­lion peo­ple in Africa.

But a few years be­fore the pub­li­ca­tion of the 2006 Hu­man De­vel­op­ment Re­port by the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram and of the re­port “Cop­ing with Wa­ter Scarcity. Chal­lenge of the Twen­tyFirst Cen­tury. U.N.-Wa­ter,” by the FAO in 2007, a Mex­i­can sci­en­tist Ser­gio Je­sus Rico Ve­lasco from the In­sti­tuto Politic­nico Na­cional in­vented “Solid Rain” and founded the com­pany “Si­los de Agua” in 2002 to com­mer­cial­ize his prod­uct.

Slowly but steadily the news of his in­ven­tion reached the world, open­ing a new win­dow of hope for many coun­tries around the world, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, In­dia, Ivory Coast, Colom­bia, Spain, Por­tu­gal, Chile, Peru and, of course Mexico; which be­gan to experiment with the new prod­uct to ease wa­ter short­ages for agri­cul­ture. In 2012 Rico Ve­lasco was nom­i­nated for the World Wa­ter Prize.

The magic of “solid rain,” a com­pound based on potas­sium acry­late, is that it can store 300 times, even 500 times its own weight in wa­ter with­out caus­ing any harm to the en­vi­ron­ment, nor trig­ger­ing toxic chem­i­cal re­ac­tions re­gard­less of the type of soil sub­strate.

Porta­bil­ity

The prod­uct looks like a white pow­der sugar but is made of ul­tra­ab­sorbent potas­sium poly­acry­late which Rico Ve­lasco and other sci­en­tists call “wa­ter si­los.”

So as an al­ter­na­tive to re­duc­ing wa­ter re­sources, this prod­uct stores rain­wa­ter and has the ad­van­tage that it can be kept any­where, even in burlap sacks be­cause the rain wa­ter mol­e­cules ad­here to the potas­sium poly­acry­late, which al­lows the gela­tiniza­tion of the rain in the agri­cul­tural fields.

Re­ju­ve­na­tion

How does it work? Solid Rain en­cap­su­lates and dis­perses wa­ter dur­ing its life­time, rang­ing from 8 to 10 years, it helps to aer­ate the soil, and per­mits agri­cul­ture in ex­treme cli­mates and places with poor soil con­di­tions.

The ideal us­age pro­por­tion is four “si­los,” each one con­tain­ing the equiv­a­lent of one litre of wa­ter. The com­par­a­tive cost is min­i­mal be­cause the “pow­der” suf­fi­cient for one hectare has a price tag of around one thou­sand dol­lars.

Rico Ve­lasco ex­plained that this tech­nol­ogy can be used in all kind of soil sub­strates and with all kind of plants be­cause it pro­duces no chem­i­cal re­ac­tions with pes­ti­cides nor fer­til­iz­ers be­cause “it’s just wa­ter” and it does not gen­er­ate pol­lu­tion.

The Solid Rain can regularly pro­vide enough wa­ter to plants over a pe­riod of ten years max­i­mum, while avoid­ing wa­ter stress and eva­po­ra­tion. More­over, the solid rain par­ti­cles can be re­hy­drated with each agri­cul­tural cy­cle.

How is it used? Farm­ers need to take a spoon and mix 20 grams of Solid Rain with one liter of wa­ter, then mix it into the soil. Then plant theirs seeds and mix it in with the soil of other plants (www.solidrain.com).

Ac­cord­ing to Solid Rain Cor­po­ra­tion from San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, the prod­uct is ca­pa­ble of sav­ing be­tween 50 to 80 per cent of wa­ter, depend­ing on the cli­mate and soil con­di­tions and from 30 to 50 per­cent of wa­ter us­age in green­houses.

Ex­cel­sior (Mexico)

The mir­a­cle of solid rain: The start and re­sult of the process of trans­mut­ing wa­ter stor­age in “pow­der” form is seen.

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