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The answer to Bengaluru's water crisis, it seems, is blowing in the wind. Researchers at the city-based Scalene Energy Research Institute (SERI) have developed a Rain Tunnel - a technology that harnesses water vapour in the air and converts it into drinking water.

And It Will Be Sold Commercially From Next Month!


Available for domestic as well as commercial use once production begins next month, the former is capable of producing 30 litres of clean, filtered, drinking water within 24 hours. The commercial setup will produce a 1,000 litres in the same period of time. A plug-and-use model for domestic use will cost Rs 50-55,000.

Work on the Rain Tunnel began four years ago at SERI, a 24-year-old organisation that does research in healthcare; energy; water and food. The technology was also patented about one and a half years ago.



A one cubic feet box draws in the air with an air circulator, which is then passed through a PM 2.5 microns filter "to remove the particulate matter and pollution," Kumar explains. Next step: UV, to kill all the airborne bacteria and viruses. Then, the temperature, pressure and flow rate is adjusted (depending on the atmospheric pressure of the location) to create an atmosphere suitable to agglomerate the water vapour to form clouds, "just like it takes place in nature," Kumar explains, asking us to think of a cloudy day. "Doesn't the humidity rise and air pressure fall before it rains?" This is where the Rain Tunnel is unique - it uses hypersonic sound waves to precipitate the concentrated water vapour. "We take a small quantity of seed water and subject it to a few million cycles of high frequency sound. This breaks them down and generates nano water particles, which we then freeze into ice crystals." Nano crystals don't require a very low temperature to freeze. The resultant nano ice crystals, as per the property of ice, begin to absorb more water vapour, and swell. "And the bigger they get, they lose that property, begin to melt into water, which falls as rain and is collected in a drip tray and into a tank. It then passes through four stages of filtration - sediment filtering, carbon filtering, ultra filtering at .04 microns and UV exposure - from which it is sent to the dispenser. As people draw water from the dispenser, more water is instantaneously filtered and sterlised and makes its way in."
Once the machine is plugged into an electrical socket and switched on, within 10-15 hours, it starts dispensing water. "And once the dry air - from which the water vapour has been removed - is let out, it will absorb more water and the cycle continues," Kumar adds, describing how one litre of water removed will produce another litre and so on.

Application and Benefits




While there will be a marginal difference in the speed at which the water is generated depending on the atmospheric humidity in different places, it will work at any place where there is even 10 ppm (parts per million or 10 ml per 1,000 ml of water) of water vapour in the atmosphere.
Dr Kumar lists the pros - from purity to a higher PH level. That of groundwater, he says, is 6.7/6.3. "This has come straight from the atmosphere and is uncontaminated by the soil. With bottled water, you don't know the source or what process it has undergone. And UV and RO filtering can filter out everything else except pesticide and fertiliser residue. Sometimes, groundwater is also contaminated by substances such as arsenic, nitrite and heavy metals. RO only brings down TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and removes salt content, it doesn't remove these huge molecules, while UV filtering removes only bacteria."
While the price can seem high, Dr Kumar believes that it actually cuts cost over the years - 0.56 per litre over 24 hours as per domestic consumption patterns and the usage and cost of electricity at home. "It's convenient because it doesn't need anything other than electricity, and removes the possibility of waterborne diseases. In rural areas, a machine that can make 10,000 litres of water, which is equal to one inch of rain, can resolve the problem of walking huge distances to fetch water."
Available for domestic as well as commercial use once production begins next month, the former is capable of producing 30 litres of clean, filtered, drinking water within 24 hours. The commercial setup will produce a 1,000 litres in the same period of time. A plug-and-use model for domestic use will cost Rs 50-55,000.
Work on the Rain Tunnel began four years ago at SERI, a 24-year-old organisation that does research in healthcare; energy; water and food. The technology was also patented about one and a half years ago.Slippery matters
V Balasubramanian, former Additional Chief Secretary of Karnataka and Chairman, Centre for Policies and Practices, had conducted an elaborate study of the water woes of the state capital. The lab results at the Public Health Institute, and the Department of Mines and Geology of the Karnataka government had buttressed his findings:
*52 per cent of borewell water and 59 per cent of tap water in Bengaluru is not potable
*They contain 8.4 per cent and 19 per cent E.coli bacteria respectively
*The groundwater in at least half of Bengaluru is contaminated with sewage water.

Facts
Earlier Bengaluru was home to of 800-odd lakes.
Today, only about 200 lakes remain.
Bengaluru is 3,000 feet above sea level.
So, water has to be pumped up by 100 km.
This makes Bengaluru's water the costliest in all of India and Asia at Rs 82 per kilolitre, vs Rs 28 per kilolitre in Delhi
Approximately 509 million litres of this water goes waste every day because of our bad distribution network
The groundwater is over-exploited by more than 150 per cent
Average depth of borewells in areas such as Marathahalli, Sarjapur, HSR Layout is about 1,200 feet and is going deeper.
Source: nandannilekani.in

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Mithilesh Joshi