- A growing awareness of climate change is driving capital into the renewable energy sector.
- The industry is expected to grow to $1.9 trillion by 2030 as every aspect of the energy supply chain is reinvented.
- Many clean-tech start-ups have sprung up in the field of renewable energy.
Uravu Labsis one of them known for creating sustainable water from scratch.
- It is now on track to make water sustainability a reality for beverage conglomerates such as Coca-Cola, Radico Khaitan, Kirin Holdings, Suntory.
More than half of India lacks access to securely managed
UNICEF† In remote areas, people walk for miles to fetch water, which is not always clean. Excess
fluoride in India affects tens of millions of people in 19 of its states.
Groundwater, which provides 85% of drinking water in rural areas, is becoming increasingly depleted, taking away their primary source of water and threatening India’s food
“There was a time when we were only allowed one bucket a day in college because there was a severe drought for a few months,” recalls Swapnil Shrivastav, co-founder of a clean-tech start-up.
He and his college friend Venkatesh R.
To help combat water scarcity, Shrivastav and Venkatesh worked on a machine that produces sustainable drinking water from the air and started ‘Uravu Labs’.
Water from the air that leaves no ecological footprint
The water-from-air concept is not new. However, the conventional method uses a significant amount of electricity to utilize it and is not always generated from clean, renewable sources.
“To make one liter of water, conventional technology used almost four units of electricity. A unit of electricity costs about eight to ten rupees,” said Shrivastav.
The founders of cleantech took it upon themselves to find a sustainable solution to water scarcity and offer it at the same price as Bisleri mineral water.
Thus Uravu was born. It now uses desiccant-based technology that absorbs water directly from the air and is powered by solar energy and even industrial waste heat.
Venkatesh and Shrivastav had also traveled to remote places in Gujarat and Rajasthan. There, Shrivastav said, the drinking water was either highly polluted or inaccessible, as people would walk for miles to get water.
Renewable water at ₹4
It produces 20-100 liters of water per day by taking it from the air. Their renewable water costs almost the same as mineral water, about six rupees per liter.
As they get bigger, the water can get cheaper. With 100-200 liters of extraction per day, the costs are around 4.
“If we go to industrial scale, say 2000-10,000 liters and above, the cost will drop to just ₹2-2.5 per liter,” Shrivastav says.
The beverage industry uses 20% of the annual human drinking water
Now in the early stages of commercialization and implementation, Uravu Labs has focused on beverage brands in India.
The beverage industry requires the greatest amount of water and electricity to make its products. Cold drinks and beer, Shrivastav said, are more than 90% water.
Beverage giant Coca-Cola consumes more than 10 lakh liters of water per day.
“Overall, the beverage industry extracts more than 1,500 billion liters of water on an annual basis, which is equivalent to 20% of the human need for drinking water on an annual basis. More than 45% of this 1,500 billion liters comes from groundwater, which takes about 1,400 years to replenish,” says Shrivastav.
On the other hand, water vapor is naturally replenished in just eight to ten days by the Earth’s hydrological cycle.
So, instead of relying on groundwater, Uravu is now helping beverage brands such as AB InBev, Moonshine Meadery, Coca-Cola, Radico Khaitan, Kirin Holdings and Suntory move to extract water from the sky with their pilot technology and reduce their carbon footprint to to bring back zero.
Extend the reach beyond the country
Uravu is also expanding its network by targeting the real estate sector, including individual villas, office buildings, parks, schools and hospitals.
Shrivastav shares the roadmap ahead of us saying “In four to six months we want to have 100 liters [production tech] per day. The idea is to scale it up to over thousands of gallons over time and add more resources. In the short term, we are targeting units of 20-100 liters per day.”
Two-three years later, the homegrown start-up Uravu Labs also aims to become a global company by expanding its presence in Japan, the Middle East, Africa and the US.