x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Companies pluck water from thin air and save on plastic bottles

A new water-collection system is helping the bottom line and the environment, companies say.

DUBAI // The office water cooler is turning green - and that's a good thing.

Across the country eco-conscious companies are producing drinking water out of humidity in the air to reduce their environmental footprint and save money.

Among those is The Kanoo Group, an enterprise based in Dubai with interests in shipping, oil and gas, machinery and travel.

In May, the company installed a machine capable of producing up to 80 litres of drinking water at a time on the ground floor of its four-storey main office.

That means there is less need to buy water in plastic bottles, said Prashant Nasery, the company's projects and quality manager for the UAE and Oman.

"We are no longer purchasing plastic bottles for the ground floor," Mr Nasery said. "It is a good idea and a practical solution.

"We have got offices in Karama, Al Quoz and in Abu Dhabi, and we are looking at implementing it there also."

He said the system had replaced more than 200 20-litre plastic bottles the company would have bought.

Mr Nasery said the idea to instal the system, provided by the Dubai company Liquid of Life, came after Kanoo's participation in a sustainability competition called Heroes of the UAE, which was run by the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature.

The competition encouraged people and companies to examine and reduce their water use and energy footprints.

As one of several winners, Kanoo was given a free energy and water audit.

The study found that if the company made simple modifications at its headquarters, such as changing lights and modifying air-conditioning, it could reduce by a quarter the building's carbon footprint of 454 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

As well as installing efficient, light-emitting diode lights and improving the performance of the air-conditioning system, the company also invested Dh18,000 in the water system, Mr Nasery said.

By generating water at the point of demand, the system eliminates the transport of plastic containers and the energy required for it.

It uses simple technology, basically mirroring the process by which dew forms in nature. When hot air touches a cold surface, if the temperature difference between the two is about 12°C, the moisture in the air will condense into water.

Rukhsana Kausar, a founding partner of Liquid of Life, said the company was negotiating with several businesses in Abu Dhabi that are planning to instal the water systems for credits under Estidama, the emirate's "green building" ratings scheme.

"There are a few companies hoping to incorporate the air-to-water systems into their green building designs," Ms Kausar said.

"There is definitely an increase in awareness to look for alternatives to plastic."

In the capital, the system is already being used at the headquarters of the Tourism Development and Investment Company, where a machine with a capacity of up to 300 litres of water has been working since the end of June.