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Published on: Jan. 27, 2021, 4:10 p.m.
Airowater produces water out of thin air!
  • The increasing incidents of contamination and scarcity of water in India make it important to adopt newer sources of water generation

By S.M. Boothem

For Siddharth Shah, a 41-year-old engineer from Mumbai, water technology is a new area of business, quite different from his traditional family enterprises of making, among other things, telecom products, electrical panels and furniture. He is the fifth generation to come up with a new start-up venture.

With the growing incidence of water contamination and water scarcity in India, Airowater Private Limited (APL), a pioneer in atmospheric water generation, has set its sights on capturing a large share of the market in India and overseas. Product demand in India is anticipated to reach $300 million by 2027, due to rapid industrial growth, coupled with increasing construction and manufacturing activities.

APL plans to raise $20 million from global investors for its R&D, sales and marketing network, as also to increase production capacity. The world water market was estimated at $743.77 billion in 2019 and APL has set a target to achieve at least one per cent of this. By 2025, the demand for drinking water in India is expected to touch 62 billion litres.

APL is all set to tap this opportunity using its innovative, sustainable and affordable solutions to meet the increasing demand for fresh water. Spread across 100,000 sq ft, the company’s plant is located at Bhiwandi, Maharashtra and employs 300 people. Its atmospheric water generator (AWG) is an environment-friendly machine, easy to install and uncomplicated to maintain – similar to air-conditioners – and its air filters can be cleaned every quarter by any service team. The cost of the machine breaks even in three years, with the smallest machine, at 25 litres, costing Rs50,000 and the larger machine, of 1,000 litres, going up to Rs9 lakh. APL has already installed these machines at more than 200 locations.

“The increasing incidents of contamination and scarcity of water in India make it important for us to adopt newer sources of water generation that do not harm natural resources and are, at the same time, pure,” says Siddharth Shah, director, APL. “With our unique technology, APL is well placed to cater to the demand for such a solution that is relevant for India’s future. This gives us the confidence that we will attract faster growth not only in India but also in global markets, which face similar issues.”

Depleting water source

According to a recent study, by 2025 over 1.8 billion people will be living in countries, where severe water scarcity exists. Over two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages and India will be no exception. The digging of borewells has resulted in the lowering of groundwater. India ranks 13 among the 17 worst-affected countries in terms of water crises. The Niti Aayog report reveals that 21 major cities of India will be out of water by next year. The government, under its ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ has also underlined the need for freshwater for each and every household.

“Currently, we are dependent on two sources – ground water and surface water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers,” explains Shah. “Both these sources are basically contaminated. We have a technology solution for three problems – non-availability of water, contaminated groundwater and bacteria & viruses. We have developed machines, ranging from 25 litres per day up to 1,000 litres per day.

Our concept is: take the moisture in the air, condense it using an atmospheric condenser, and the water thus collected is pure. We still have to make sure the water which is delivered to the customer is in the purest form, for which we have a filtration system also built into the machine.”

APL caters to both government as well as non-government institutes. Currently, most corporates use 20-litre packaged water bottles, the average cost of which is Rs5 per litre. Using AWG, the cost can be brought down to Rs2.5 per litre. Its prominent customers include Titan, Aditya Birla group, the department of defence, the Navy, ONGC, BPCL, Standard Chartered, IndusInd Bank and Medimix in Chennai. APL also exports to Bangladesh, the Maldives, Mauritius, Singapore and Africa. It has now set its sights on Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, the North East and West Bengal.

The company is already gaining in market share in Tamil Nadu. It is also planning to supply to educational institutions, hotels and restaurants. The sales and marketing network is also expanding to cater to clients across India. While its two competitors – Maithri in the South and Akvo in Kolkata – import machine parts and only assemble them here, APL’s advantage is, apart from selling the machines, it also manufactures and designs them in its plant. The next target for APL is to achieve Rs100 crore in sales by next year and Rs1,000 crore in five years.

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