Harvesting water from air made easier

The three innovators from L-R Anastasia Kaschenko, Beth Koigi and Clare Sewell.
The three innovators from L-R Anastasia Kaschenko, Beth Koigi and Clare Sewell.

Some 700 million people lack access to clean drinking water worldwide, 319 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, nearly 12 million people do not get adequate clean drinking water. Driven by the spirit of innovation and social responsibility, three young women, Beth Koigi (27), Claire Sewell (33) and Anastasia Kaschenko (24), came together to assist communities living in the drylands to access clean drinking water.

Through their company, Majik Water, they have initiated a prototype that harvests water from the air using simple equipment and techniques. The initiative had been the dream of Ms Koigi way back at Chuka University.

The vision prompted her to apply for the Global Solutions Programme that saw her join the Singularity University in the Silicon Valley in the US, where she met her two future partners.

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It is there that Majik Water Tech Company was established with American, Canadian and Kenyan roots since the three women come from these three countries.

Harvesting water out of the air is ancient technology, but the Majik Water prototype which uses renewable solar energy, can do it quicker and in low-humidity areas.

“The three of us were connected by the need to see a world where everyone has access to adequate and clean drinking water.

There is six times more water in the atmosphere than in all rivers around the world,” she adds, The device can generate 10 liters of water a day.

The aim is to produce clean water, at a price of about one cent per liter, cheaper than bottled water or boiling water to purify it, while removing the risk of mineral impurities.

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“Our prototype uses spongelike materials such as silica gel to extract water from the air. The water is then released by heating the gel, which can be re-used many times. Water can be extracted from air with as low as 35 per cent humidity.

It minimizes energy demands through use of solar for heating,” Ms Koigi says. Majik Water got €15,000 for winning the first prize of the EDF Pulse Africa and held on December 19, 2017 in France.

(The EDF Pulse Awards are presented to startups that invent technological solutions for tomorrow’s world). “Our solution helps to prevent the spread of certain waterborne diseases, thereby saving lives. EDF Pulse Africa has given us an opportunity to cross borders, and develop our project in francophone Africa,” says Ms Koigi.

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“Our project lead team is made up of three women. Female entrepreneurship in Africa must be encouraged,” she adds.

The firm also won the second place and $7,500 in the MIT’s Water Innovation competition in 2017 and came third in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) I-SHOW awards, held in Nairobi in May 2018.

ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) is a global competition for hardware-led ventures, which focuses on the design and engineering journey, of taking physical products to the market.

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