Prospect of Launching ‘Atmospheric Water Generator’- in the Remote places of CHT

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Parvedge Haider

Despite the enormous infrastructural developments in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), there are difficulties in collecting drinkable water in many remote places. The natural sources of drinkable water are getting abridged day by day. Besides the surface water sources, Groundwater is the only source that are being utilized in CHT. This kind of water present beneath Earth’s surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can produce a usable quantity of water. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that in the year 2040 more than 40% of earth population will suffer from severe water shortage[1]. Water scarcity is the lack of fresh water resources to meet water demand. It affects every continent and was listed in 2019 by the World Economic Forum as one of the largest global risks in terms of potential impact over the next decade[2]. Adding to that the Climate changes have already affected the water supply in many countries.

Photo-1: Global water consumption 1900-2025,Β  by region, in billions m3 per year

Groundwater is recharged from the surface; it may discharge from the surface naturally. It is also often withdrawn for agricultural, municipal, and industrial use by constructing and operating extraction wells. Unfortunately, due to frequent pumping of groundwater from aquifers and availability of hilly terrain, it is not easily accessible in many places of CHT. Considering the present situation of CHT and possible expansion of future prospects in tourism sector, Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) might become a good solution of arranging drinkable water sources by the reasonable expenditures.

An AWG is a device that extracts water from humid ambient air. The basic mode of its technology is that water vapor in the air can be extracted by condensation, cooling the air below its dew point, exposing the air to desiccants, or pressurizing the air. AWGs are useful where pure drinking water is difficult or impossible to obtain, because there is almost always a small amount of water in the air that can be extracted.

The Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG), an innovative solution to meet the ever-increasing need for drinking water worldwide. It can be used to generate water from humidity present in the air and produces safe and clean water that is suitable for drinking. Under normal circumstances, water vapor enters the atmosphere through evaporation and leaves by condensation (rain, snow, etc.). Air is made up of mostly of nitrogen and oxygen, with tiny amounts of argon, carbon dioxide and other gases. Depending on the temperature, the amount of water vapor in the air ranges from .001 percent to about 4 percent[3].

Photo-2: Functions of AWG

The extraction of atmospheric water may require a significant input of energy. Some AWG methods are completely passive, relying on natural temperature differences, and requiring no external energy source. Moses West, a retired Army officer from the U.S. is the founder of Atmospheric Water Generator drinking water[4]. In 2015, West invented an atmospheric water generator (AWG), a machine that turns air into clean drinking water.

Photo-3: Moses West, founder of Atmospheric Water Generator

Besides Moses West, Arye Kohavi, an Israeli entrepreneur and the founder of Watergen[5] has developed this technology further.

Photo-4: Arye Kohavi

The device gathers water directly from air. The air is first passed through air filters to remove air-borne impurities. Then the cooled coils located in the path of air provide a temperature differential between the air and the coil surface resulting in condensation. Water is then passed through various filters to remove solids and to remove any odor and any bacterial content. Then it passes through an Ultra Violet ray (UV) system and processes this water as drinkable. AWG produce clean water that is safe to drink. Essential minerals are added to the filtered water before it is ready for consumption. Water produced by AWG fulfills WHO standards. Normally it needs only 0.3 units of energy for producing one litre of water[6].

Advantages of AWG

  • No additional equipment required like piping-just needs air & power source.
  • No need to wait for delivery of water cans/bottles from another source.
  • Enables automatic & regular purification to ensure water quality.
  • Easy to maintain & less operating expenses.
  • Works perfectly in between 10%-99% Relative humidity conditions.
  • No water wastage.

The normal regular and drinkable water crisis in CHT is being felt in many folds:

Firstly, the general inhabitants mostly tribal who stay in various remote places come across tremendous crisis of water during the dry seasons of a year. Moreover, these people need to collect water from different springs those might be located in long distances. The crisis of water in CHT creates waterborne diseases that sometimes turn into epidemic. In 2015, there were waterborne epidemic diseases at Shialdaho area (near Sajek) which caused death of more than 100 people. At that time, Bangladesh Army took initiative to open up a temporary hospital in such remote place and treated the tribal villagers. The effort of Bangladesh Army not only stopped further death but also provided the general people elementary guidelines of using water in a healthy process. Considering the gravity of the fact, the mostly needed villages in CHT might be sorted out and some AWGs could be distributed to them basing on the gravities of requirement.

Secondly, AWGs might be utilized in the tourist spots which are located in the remote places. In last one decade, a significant number of tourist spots have been raised by some good initiatives of Bangladesh Army and different local entrepreneurs. The people involved in these tourism sectors need to collect water from a long distance. Due to the collection process, the purchase cost of the water becomes more. Besides many other tourism projects, Sajek and Nilgiri might be the appropriate examples.

Thirdly, the members of different security forces staying in the remote of CHT face acute crisis of water. The soldiers need to collect water from a long distance. Installing AWGs in those camps would make their life easy and comfortable.

Besides the points mentioned above, there might be some other important places in CHT where AWGs might become the best of use.

There are also challenges in establishing AWGs in CHT. For producing water from the air, AWGs need electricity. However, this challenge might be addressed by using solar generated electricity or fuel operated generators.

AWGs are getting easily available day by day. Foreseeing the upcoming requirements of the future days, renowned companies are manufacturing AWGs in different models and categories. There are AWGs for the use of a single family and also for the heavy duty. In India, the South Central Railway has set up an ‘atmospheric water generator’ at Secunderabad Railway Station by the name of Meghdoot[7]. The device harvests water directly from air and provides it to railway commuters at a very low price. It produces around 1,000 litres of drinkable water per day.

Photo-5: Indian made AWG Meghdoot
Photo-6:Β  An example of a Light Duty AWG
Photo-7: An example of a Heavy Duty AWG

The earth’s atmosphere is an unlimited source of water hence we can extract fresh water from air at any given time. There are scarcities of drinkable water sources in many places of CHT. There might be continued crisis of water sources in the coming days. Considering the fact and accepting the reality, AWGs could become a workable solution to address the drinkable water crisis in CHT.

 

Parvedge Haider

Researcher, Regional Politics and CHT Affairs

Email: parvedgehaider5235@gmail.com

 

[1] Water Scarcity, https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/scarcity/ , accessed on January 6, 2020.
[2] The Global Risks Report 2019, https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2019 , accessed on January 6, 2020.
[3] Ever wondered about water vapor? https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/ever-wondered-about-water-vapor/2015/12/20/b1af5d60-9929-11e5-94f0-9eeaff906ef3_story.html , accessed on January 6, 2020.
[4] Squeezing Water From Air: Mysterious Machine Is A Lifeline On Caribbean Island, Β https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/squeezing-water-from-air-mysterious-machine-is-a-lifeline-on-caribbean-island/2018/06/28/c4d7433a-7ab3-11e8-ac4e-421ef7165923_story.html , accessed on January 6, 2020.
[5] Watergen Inc. is an Israel-based global company that develops water-from-air solutions.
[6] Maithri Aquatech’s water generators just need air to produce freshwater, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/features/maithri-aquatechs-water-generators-just-needs-air-to-produce-freshwater/articleshow/72485361.cms?from=mdr , accessed on January 6, 2020.
[7] Railway Station in Telangana Sells Drinking Water Made From Thin Air at Rs 5/Litre! https://www.thebetterindia.com/207133/indian-railways-secunderabad-station-meghdoot-water-from-air-innovation/ , accessed on January 6, 2020.
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