This start-up creates ‘green’ water out of thin air and sells it at ₹4 per liter

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This start-up creates ‘green’ water out of thin air and sells it at ₹4 per liter
Founders (L-R): Govinda Balaji (Engineering), Swapnil Shrivastav (Business), Pardeep Garg (Technology and Business) and Venkatesh R (Design and Operations)
  • Capital is pouring into the renewable energy sector, thanks to a growing awareness of climate change.
  • The industry is expected to grow to $1.9 trillion by 2030 as every aspect of the energy supply chain gets reimagined.
  • Many clean-tech start-ups have cropped up in the renewable energy space.
  • Bangalore-based Uravu Labs is one of them that’s known for creating sustainable water out of thin air.
  • It is now on its path to making water sustainability a reality for beverage conglomerates such as Coca-Cola, Radico Khaitan, Kirin Holdings, Suntory.
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More than half of India has no access to safely managed drinking water, as per humanitarian aid organization UNICEF. In remote areas, people walk miles to fetch water, which is not always clean. Excess fluoride in India is affecting tens of millions of people across 19 of its states.

Groundwater, which supplies 85% of drinking water in rural areas, is depleting at an accelerating rate -- taking away their primary source of water and threatening India’s food security.

“There was a time when we were just allowed to have one bucket per day in college because there was a severe drought for a couple of months,” recalls Swapnil Shrivastav, co-founder of a clean-tech start-up.

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He decided to find a solution to this problem with his college friend Venkatesh R.

To help fight water scarcity, Shrivastav and Venkatesh worked on a machine that produces sustainable drinking water from air and bootstrapped ‘Uravu Labs.’

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Water from thin air that leaves no carbon footprint

The water-from-air concept is not new. The conventional method however uses a significant amount of electricity to harness it and is nt always generated from clean, renewable sources.

“To make one liter of water, conventional tech used almost four units of electricity. One unit of electricity is around eight to 10 rupees,” shares Shrivastav.

The cleantech founders took it upon themselves to find a sustainable solution to water scarcity and offer it at the same price point as mineral water Bisleri.

That’s how Uravu was born. It now uses desiccant-based technology that directly absorbs water from air and is powered by solar energy and even industry-based waste heat.
This start-up creates ‘green’ water out of thin air and sells it at ₹4 per liter
Uravu Labs

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Venkatesh and Shrivastav had also travelled to remote places in Gujarat and Rajasthan. There, Shrivastav said, either the drinking water was highly contaminated or inaccessible, as people would walk miles to fetch water.

Renewable water at ₹4

It produces 20-100 liters of water per day by extracting it from thin air. Their renewable water is priced almost the same as mineral water at around six rupees per liter.

As they scale up, the water can become cheaper. At 100-200 liters extraction per day, the cost is around ₹4.

“When we go to industrial scale, say at 2000-10,000 liters and beyond, the costs will come down to just ₹2-2.5 per liter,” says Shrivastav.

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Beverage industry uses 20% of annual human drinking water

Uravu Labs, which is now in the early stage of commercialization and deployment, has been targeting beverage brands in India.
This start-up creates ‘green’ water out of thin air and sells it at ₹4 per liter
BI India

The beverage industry requires the highest 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 withdraws more than 1,500 billion liters of water on an annual basis, which is equivalent to 20% of human drinking water needs on an annual basis. More than 45% of this 1,500 billion liters is coming from groundwater, which takes around 1,400 years to replenish,” shares Shrivastav.

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On the other hand, water vapour replenishes naturally just in eight to 10 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 switch to extract water from air with their pilot technology and bring their carbon footprint to zero.

Expanding its reach beyond the country

Uravu is also casting its net wider by targeting the real estate industry including individual villas, office buildings, parks, schools and hospitals.

Sharing the roadmap ahead, Shrivastav says, “In four to six months from now, we aim to have 100 liter [production tech] per day. The idea is to scale it up to more than thousands of liters over a period of time and add more resources. In the short term, we are focusing on 20-100 liter per day units.”

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Two-three years down the line, home-grown start-up Uravu Labs also aims to become a global company by expanding its presence in Japan, Middle East, Africa, and the US.
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