IEEE Foundation

The Indian Startup Pulling Water From the Air

Uravu’s new 1,000-liter-per-day unit will come on line this month

Technology that can pull water out of thin air

By Edd Gent

BENGALURU, India—Technology that can pull water out of thin air could help solve the world’s growing water scarcity problem, but most solutions are expensive and difficult to scale. Indian startup Uravu Labs says its low-cost modular approach could provide a blueprint for more affordable and sustainable atmospheric water harvesting. What comes out of the pipe, the company’s website says, is “100 percent renewable water”—renewably powered, harnessed from a vast and nearly inexhaustible source, and with no wastewater produced in the process.

Uravu is putting the finishing touches on its biggest unit to date. The device, the company says, will be capable of harvesting up to 1,000 liters of water a day when it goes online later this month, at its headquarters in the south Indian city of Bengaluru. By the end of the year the company hopes to scale that up to 10,000 L a day, says cofounder Swapnil Shrivastav.

Uravu isn’t the only company working on this problem, but its approach is different from that of most of its competitors. The vast majority of companies working in this area rely on technology similar to that found in air-conditioning units—a coiled tube full of refrigerant is used to cool air until its moisture condenses on the surface as liquid water.

However, the approach requires huge amounts of electricity, says Shrivastav, and this makes these units expensive to run and unsustainable unless specifically powered by renewable energy. “Our goal from day one was to not only be scalable and renewable but also be the most affordable,” he says.

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