Monday, 25 April 2016

This Water Purifier Generates Electricity And Creates Wi-Fi Connections


Watly is part of Telegraph Tech's Startup Saturday series. Every week, we will be profiling a British entrepreneur or startup inventing world-first products or solving gnarly problems using innovative tech.

Imagine a machine that can turn contaminated water from a river, ocean or even sewage into drinking water, while at the same time generating enough electricity to power itself with surplus, and connecting everywhere within a kilometre radius to Wi-Fi.

It sounds too good to be true, but Marco Attisani has created just that. Watly is a solar-powered water purification machine that can service a community of up to 3,000 people.


The "ultimate" version of Watly will be unveiled this summer CREDIT: WATLY

The project is designed to solve three major weaknesses in infrastructure all at once: access to water, electricity and internet. Across the world, 783 million people do not have access to clean water, 1.2 billion lack access to electricity, and 4.2 billion are still without internet access.

Watly isn't just designed for developing countries. It can also help communities that have high levels of sunlight, but struggle to find sustainable solutions to generating clean water.

"The only things it needs to run are dirty water and a lot of Sun,"  said Attisani, the 44-year-old Italian creator of Watly. From that it can purify 5,000 litres of water and "generate enough electricity to power itself and to power external devices."

The current prototype weighs 15 tonnes, equivalent to the weight of eight or nine cars, and looks like a large H-shaped tent. 

Watly is designed in the shape of an H to capture energy from the Sun throughout the day CREDIT: WATLY

The US state of Texas, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Australia have all expressed interest in Watly, as have nations from the African continent and South America.

Major telecoms companies have also indicated that they might want to invest in the technology, according to Attisani. "You might have a phone from the same brand as one of the companies," he said cryptically. "All of them are working confidentially right now." 

A successful trial of Watly 2.0 led to the company winning €2 million in funding  CREDIT: WATLY

In 2015, after a successful trial of Watly 2.0 in Ghana, the company won €2 million euros (£1.6 million) in funding from organisations including Horizon 2020, the European Union's biggest research and innovation programme, and European Pioneers, a Berlin-based accelerator for future internet technologies. 

The company is currently looking for a further $75,000 (£52,000) through crowdfunding site IndieGogo.

The commercialised Watly costs €400,000 to build, but Attisani said that money should be seen as an investment for companies and governments. "This is not a machine we expect people that don't have access to water to buy," said Attisani.

After the initial cost, Watly will run for free for up to 15 years, the company estimates. And in that time it will provide 3 million litres of clean water a year, enough for 3,000 people, electricity for thousands of devices, and Wi-Fi for a kilometre-wide radius.

How Watly works


Watly technology explained from Watly on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/128782376

Watly has been in development since 2013, when Attisani created the first version in three months. It will unveil its first working prototype in the summer of 2016, with the aim to make another by the end of the year.

Watly is powered by photovolatic solar panels that line its shell and generate heat and energy. This solar energy fuels the water purification and internet connectivity.

"It has been designed in an H shape to follow the Sun throughout the day," said Attisani. 

CREDIT: WATLY

The innovation in Watly, which makes it different from other devices that purify water, is the use of graphene and aerogel.

"We use the graphene to absorb hydrocarbons from the water," said Attisani. "It's very easy to divide physical substances from water. But the beauty of Watly is that it can purify any source of contamination."

The innovation that most excites Attisani isn't the water purification, but the ability to generate internet access without a power station. "That's the future," he said.


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/04/23/the-water-purifier-that-also-generates-electricity-and-creates-w/

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