Innovators develop technology to harvest clean water from air

Image: Lto R Majik Water -  COO Clare Sewell, CEO Beth Koigo and Anastasia Kaschenko CTO

Three young innovators in Kenya have developed an award winning technology that harvests clean drinking water from the air, targeted at rural communities living in dry regions, and communities in urban areas lacking access to clean water.  The innovation dubbed Majik Water is powered by solar energy and utilizes sponge like non toxic desiccant materials to generate water from the air. 

According to Anastasia Kaschenko the Chief Technology Officer, Majik Water innovation can generate up to 10 litres of water daily, in regions with relative humidity levels of 55 to 60 percent.  In Nairobi, Kenya and California where the innovation has been tested, it has achieved those results. The technology utilizes solar energy to power its components and processes, and requires about 300 to 500 watts of energy to run, supplied by a 400 watt solar panel array. 

To harvest the water, air is pulled into the device by a solar powered fan, and the desiccant material absorbs the water droplets from the air. The desiccant material is then exposed to heat generated by solar energy causing it to release the moisture as water vapor.  The vapor is then condensed into water and filtered with activated carbon. The clean water is then stored in a tank with a gravity fed tap system where it can be fetched without need for a motor. 

The founders aim to station the Majik Water technology near water scarce urban communities or in rural arid areas where locals will buy the clean drinking water from them.  For rural areas, a liter of water will be sold at an affordable price of 1 to 2 Kenya shillings (USD 0.0099 to 0.02).  

They also aim to bottle the water and sell a liter at 12 to 15 Kenya shillings (USD 0.12 to 0.15) to urban customers. In Nairobi, a liter of bottled water depending on brand, costs from Kenya shillings 40 (USD 0.4) onwards.

“Our target price per liter of water will be competitive with the current water options available,” said Kaschenko. 

Worldwide, 3 in 10 people equivalent to 2.1 billion people lack access to safe water at their homes according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF 2017 report.  The United Nations also classifies Kenya as a chronically water scarce country with only about 56 percent of the country population having access to safe water.  As a result roughly 80 percent of hospital attendance in the country is due to preventable diseases, and about 50 percent of these illnesses are due to water, sanitation, and hygiene.  

In 2017, the Majik Water technology won the EDF Pulse Africa Award plus the 15,000 Euros cash prize, and in 2018, was shortlisted among nine finalists that pitched at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Innovation Showcase.