This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Water-Gen, an Israeli company whose technology captures humidity in order to make drinking water out of air, is not likely to experience the cash-flow squeeze that afflicts many fast-growing companies.
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That’s because Russian-Israeli entrepreneur and billionaire Michael Mirilashvili, who is also the vice president of the World Jewish Congress, bought control of the company last summer, and because it has high-profile advocates. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned it in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” about Israel’s high-tech prowess. At the AIPAC conference last month, Harvard Law professor and Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz took the stage to showcase its technology. In September, the company presented its solution at the United Nations.
Not bad for a firm that employs some 30 people, mainly engineers, in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion. It was set up in 2010 by entrepreneur Arye Kohavi, a former combat reconnaissance company commander in the Israeli Army who previously set up a firm that developed e-learning software.
“Water from air is the next source of water for the world”
“Whatever it needs, we will finance,” said Maxim Pasik, the executive chairman of Water-Gen ,when asked about financing options for the firm’s growth. “Water-Gen’s potential is endless. Water from air is the next source of water for the world.”
Mirilashvili’s Beer Itzhak Energy recently bought a 70 percent stake in Water-Gen.
Water covers 70 percent of Earth, but only 3 percent of the world’s water is fresh, and two-thirds of that is unavailable for use, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. As a result, “some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year,” the WWF says. At the current consumption rate, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages, the World Wildlife Fund estimates. Roughly 1.2 billion people — almost one-fifth of the world’s population — live in areas of water scarcity, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Turning air into potable water
After the biblical exodus from Egypt, Moses made water for the people of Israel in the desert by striking a stone. Now Water-Gen is striking water from air.
The technology, developed by Kohavi with the help of engineers, uses a series of filters to purify the air. After the air is sucked in and chilled to extract its humidity, the water that forms is treated and transformed into clean drinking water. The technology uses a plastic heat exchanger rather than an aluminum one, which helps reduce costs; it also includes a proprietary software that operates the devices.
The atmospheric water generators developed by Water-Gen allow the production of 4 liters of drinking water (one gallon) using 1 Kilowatt of energy, Pasik said.
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