A new technology from a Bangalore-based scientist promises a cost-effective way to deliver clean drinking water by harnessing moisture from the atmosphere. The patented ‘Rain Tunnel Technology’ has been integrated into a household plug-in machine that will be available for commercial use in the next two months, according to inventor Dr. Rajah Vijay Kumar, Chief Scientific Officer at the De Scalene Research Organization.
The Rain Tunnel uses a “Hypersonic Precipitator,” which employs extreme high-frequency sound waves to produce nano-water particles. The nano-particles can freeze at temperatures as high as 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, and form ice crystals through vapor deposition in the Precipitator’s chamber. Clouds inside an “Active Cloud Chamber” produce precipitation and ‘rain’ when you are ready to drink. The rain is collected in a food-grade tank and treated with a five-stage process before consumption.
"So far we have designed and readied for production of a household 'Rain Tunnel' machine that can produce 30 liters of clean drinking water for a family,” Dr. Kumar said. “This is a standalone plug-and-play machine that can be simply plugged in to any power outlet and you have 24 hours of drinking water. It comes with a built-in dispenser providing chilled water at 8 degrees, hot water at 90 degrees and water at room temperature with cost of only 87 paisa per liter."
While using water from the atmosphere is not a new idea, previous technologies required energy-intensive systems to chill the air and high atmospheric humidity over 65 percent.
The Rain Tunnel technology is unique because hypersonic precipitation does not require very low temperatures to produce water. Additionally, the Rain Tunnel’s performance depends on atmospheric conditions such as water vapor pressure, temperature, altitude and wind flow, instead of humidity. Water can be produced even with 10ppm of water in the air. This flexibility means water production requires less energy than previous technologies, and suits a wide variety of geographies.
It will also save money for community and public drinking water needs. “The cost per liter will come down drastically,” Kumar said. “As a part of our scale-up process, the Rain Tunnel Technology was successfully applied to produce 100, 500 and 1000 liters of water per day. We are in the process of building a 10,000 liter per day Rain Tunnel system, to produce about 3.6 million liters of clean drinking water per annum for a community or even farming. When running with utility supply, the average cost of water will be about 67 paise," he said.
Other startups around the world are developing technologies to purify water for drinking, as fresh water scarcity concerns grip the globe. UK-based Aquavus is using ultrasound technology to purify and desalinate water. Meanwhile, major brands are trying to conserve water use: Costco is partnering with a technology startup to manage its water use, and in March, food and beverage giants General Mills, Driscoll’s and Coca-Cola North America, Gap Inc., Symantec and home builder KB Home came together to launch a campaign urging companies to enact more aggressive measures to maximize California's local and state water resources.