Eureka moments for Emirati aiming to harvest rainwater
Rain during a holiday overseas can be a dampener, but for Emirati Abdulla Alshehi it led to a brainwave. The 33-year-old Abu Dhabi-based businessman has designed an innovative rainwater harvester that is pending patent. Mr Alshehi is a project section head at Gasco, or Abu Dhabi Gas Industries, and the owner of Q2, an environmentally friendly car wash company in Dubai.
What is the invention all about?
It is a device to harvest rainwater. It is a water collector to be placed on the sea bed. It will collect rainwater and dew that falls on the sea and store the collected water in a tank on the sea bed.
How did you get the idea for this?
In 2005, I was visiting the Maldives when it started pouring heavily. I wondered where it was raining - in the middle of Indian Ocean? And it is all going to the sea. I said 'eureka, we should use it'. Again, a couple of years later, I saw it was raining in the sea off Ras Al Khaimah, and I had a second eureka moment. Also, as an environmental car wash company, we think of ways to reduce the amount of water used. We use three to five litres of water for each car. On average, you use 280 litres of water to wash big cars with hoses.
Why would this device be important?
Almost 70 per cent of the Earth's surface is covered with seawater, and rain on the sea means fresh water goes to waste. Currently we have inland rainwater harvesters but this device would collect rainwater falling on the sea. It would save a lot of energy consumed for water desalination.
How big will this device be?
It will cover almost 20 square kilometres in surface area.
Have you applied for a patent?
I applied two years ago and in February it was published in the journal of patents of the United Kingdom's Intellectual Property Office. After I get the patent, I will build a prototype of the device. I have been working on this project alone.
Who could be your potential customers?
I will talk to Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority and Masdar for commercialisation. I will also approach Masdar for funding to build the prototype.
How long will it take to come to the market?
After the patent, I give it one year for commercialisation - not just in the UAE, It will help a lot of countries with water problems.
What is your educational background?
I gained a bachelors in engineering from the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. I graduated in 2001 and joined Gasco, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
If you get the patent, would you consider more higher education studies in the future?
I believe life teaches us more outside the university.