Clean, safe drinking water is the next challenge that will slam into the growing global population and for many millions of people around the world, it is one of the primary challenges in their day to day lives already. To further complicate the existing and increasing issues with supply, 85% of the sicknesses in the world are transmitted through less than savory water.
Watergen has developed a product that it believes will play a critical role in the struggle to find clean water today and on into the future with its atmospheric water generator (AWG). The company has developed not one, not two, but four applications derived from its AWG. CleanTechnica connected with Watergen’s VP of Marketing and Sales, Michael Rutman, to talk about the company’s newest product, the Genny, a residential atmospheric water generator.
Atmospheric water generators operate much like air conditioners, but instead of being optimized to produce cold air, their designs are optimized to produce the condensate that is often left to drip onto the ground from AC units. The Genny, for instance, produces 26 liters of drinkable water per day, according to Watergen. That’s an impressive amount of water for a unit that fits comfortably in a bit more space than a standard home or office water cooler. The water it produces is then made hot or cold for consumption at the ideal temperature.
The Genny takes Watergen’s proven technology and shrinks it down into an appliance that fits comfortably into a home. It is about the size of a traditional water cooler, but without the awkwardly balanced bottle of water on top (tell me I’m not the only one who has knocked one of those over…more than once).
Watergen’s products are different from the likes of Zero Mass Water’s Source panels in that they do require electricity as an input, so electricity consumption must be taken into account from both the infrastructure and cost standpoints. Breaking that down per liter, Watergen’s units consume 200 watt-hours per liter of water generated or 1 kilowatt-hours of power for 5 liters of water.
This efficiency is the same for Watergen’s massive units that produce 5,000 liters of water per day and its small residential unit, the Genny, as it generates 26 liters of water per day. Michael shared that this translates to a cost of 2 cents per liter for electricity, though this clearly varies based on the price of electricity. Here in California where residential electricity rates are around $0.21/kilowatt-hour on average, that cost goes up to 4 cents per liter just for the electricity consumed by the unit. Power must also be available or run to the unit, which drives up the effective price per liter.
The Genny itself does not have a price tag yet, but given the increased packaging for the smaller unit and the addition of heating and cooling for the dispensed water, it stands to reason that it will come in at a higher cost than the 1 center per liter for Watergen’s larger units. Watergen’s medium and large units cost more, but have a higher output per day and have an expected life of 15 years to amortize the initial cost.
Watergen’s larger units require very little maintenance, with a set of filters and a UV lamp that need to be changed every 6 months for a total cost of “a few hundred dollars per year,” according to Michael. The actual price in each region will vary slightly from that as Watergen will be using a network of distributors for its parts supply so each will have their own price.
Data is an important piece of any device these days and Watergen’s units are all wired for sound when it comes to feeding data back to the owner. “All units are connected as IoT devices,” Michael said. Watergen designed its system to be fail-proof, but owners can confirm this with a quick check of the app or from a web-based dashboard. The sealed system design that uses only food grade components ensures pure water, so the company did not add the extra expense of water quality monitoring.
Different Sizes For A Variety Of Applications
In addition to the residential unit, Watergen also offers medium and large stationary water generators that produce even more water. For example, Watergen’s large unit produces up to 5,000 liters per day which makes it a candidate for use in skyscrapers, small villages, apartment buildings and the like.
Michael shared that hospitals are increasingly coming to Watergen for their products because of the perfect water they generate. “When the water is contaminated, the first ones who are getting sick because of this are people with very weak immune systems,” he said. “In hospitals, you have the greatest concentration of people who are not in good health and have weak immune system.” Installing a water system that is isolated from the municipal water supply ensures the people who can least afford to get even more sick are getting clean water.
In talking through Watergen’s products, the inclusion of an automotive product initially did not make sense. Michael shared that they are seeing a surge in inbound traffic from automotive manufacturers for a wide variety of applications.
The easiest and most obvious application is for emergency services. A tornado or fire blows through town and leaves the municipal water supply offline or tainted for hours, days or even weeks. Watergen’s mobile emergency services units can easily be mobilized to produce as much water as needed. Need more water? Add more trucks. That’s pretty straight-forward.
Workers who spend a significant portion of their days in their vehicles like those with long commutes or sales jobs that have them on the road for multiple hours per day can benefit from having fresh water in their vehicles when they need it. Think about a trucker that’s on the road for 8 hours per day or more. Adding water not only adds convenience, it allows for a much more comfortable, affordable ride as they don’t have to stop to buy or fill up on water. Ok, so the frequency of bathroom breaks may increase, but that’s another matter.
That’s neat and all, but Michael had one more ace up his sleeve that was unexpected. “All the car manufacturers now, are looking into autonomous vehicles,” he said. “These are all based on cameras and sensors,” and those sensors and cameras need cleaning.
Thinking ahead just a few short years when fully autonomous, electric vehicles are running people around 24/7 with no place to call home, automakers are going to want them to be as independent as possible. The ability to generate water for passengers adds value to the experience and adding water to clean onboard sensors and cameras with a spritz of water pulled from the air means less downtime for the vehicle. Neat.
Watergen’s products have been finding homes in countries all around the world as city planners, emergency services personnel, automakers, health care practitioners and solutioneers far and wide work to solve water issues in their fields of practice.
On the global scale, the population of the world continues to grow while our fresh water resources continue to shrink. “We truly believe that atmospheric water generators are just the beginning, but in the future, they will be the main water source.” Just as humanity has done for millennia, one man’s problem is another woman’s opportunity and atmospheric water generators just might be a critical link in the chain that allows humanity to tackle the challenge of clean, safe drinking water once and for all.