Transforming the air we breathe into water we can drink

Aquamaker opens its doors to Israelis.

aquamaker 88 (photo credit: )
aquamaker 88
(photo credit: )
Imagine a village whose well has dried up or become polluted, and the river isn't clean enough to drink. Short of shipping in water, which the village cannot afford, they are in serious trouble. Until now. Aquamaker, a Houston, Texas-based company with a subsidiary in Israel, has perfected its atmospheric water generator. Atmospheric water what, you may ask? It's easy to describe and easy to use and mind blowing in its possibilities - Aquamaker creates water out of air. Aquamaker converts the humidity in the regular everyday air we breathe into water, and it will work practically anywhere in the world, even the desert. The system filters out the pollutants and because it doesn't come from the ground it isn't full of harsh minerals. "It's your own well, and it's clean," said Israel CEO of Aquamaker Eita Markovits in an interview with The Jerusalem Post at the company's Tel Aviv office. Much like the fax machine, where the theory had been worked out long before it was built, the company has been working for years to perfect the filtration and circulation system for commercial use. They finally made serious breakthroughs in 2006. The Israel office opened its doors four months ago and began selling the basic model, the AM10, a month ago. They've had hundreds of queries in that short time. "We believe that five to ten years from now, we will be part of how Israel supplies its citizens with water," Markovits said. Aquamaker represents one of a range of companies whose products are priced to be both commercially competitive and environmentally friendly. The company, Markovits, explained is not just in competition with mineral water providers. They have a much grander vision. "This is a new market with a vision. An environmentally friendly way to create water," Markovits told the Post. At a time where demand is increasingly overwhelming what nature provides to Israel through precipitation, new water sources are essential. Aquamaker has machines capable of producing as much as 5,000 liters. With a solar powered generator and a 5,000 liter capacity machine, villages without direct access to water could be fully supplied. Meanwhile, in the commercial market, the AM10 model currently available for sale in Israel is the same size as a water cooler in a typical office. It even looks the same, with taps for cold water and hot water. But there is one big difference - the ubiquitous big plastic bottles are conspicuously missing. "No need to find storage in an office for ten plastic bottles," Markovits noted. "No need to have a whole fleet of trucks to transport the bottles everywhere." The AM10 will produce 36 liters of water in 48 hours from air. The ideal humidity is 60 percent, but all that really means is that it will produce a bit more or less water depending on the humidity. The water is filtered and constantly circulated to maintain freshness. Instead of emptying out completely, it will replace the water that is used, so you never run out. What's more, it's no electricity guzzle - at about 30 agorot an hour, at its peak output it is still only producing a fourth of the electricity that an electric kettle does. Maintenance is also simple - just rinse out the filter in the sink once a month. In the coming months, the company also hopes to introduce a countertop model for home use. The products are priced to be competitive not to be gadgets for millionaires. The AM10 costs about NIS 5,000 to buy, but you can rent the machine for NIS 250 a month. Aquamaker prides itself to be better value for money than many mineral bars. The company offers a payment plan to buy the AM10 for NIS 166 per month for 36 months, which is comparable to buying three to four jugs of mineral water a month. But the machine produces quantities of water on the scale of 30-40 jugs in a month, Markovits said. Aquawater has passed standards tests in Israel, the US and Europe and is sold in several countries around the world, including the US, Australia, Greece, Spain, and Italy. "The price of mineral water is affected by all sorts of things that are connected to water like the price of oil etc. We are not," Markovits pointed out. For now, the Israeli subsidiary has been doing pilot programs in various offices in and around Tel Aviv. "The Defense Ministry has about ten scattered around its offices," Markovits said. "We've contacted all the ministries and the speaker of the Knesset to interest them in the machines." The company has strong financial backing from Kaman Holdings and will be in the seed phase for at least another two years. Markovits is a 50% holder of Solgar Vitamins, where he left after 23 years to come run Aquamaker in Israel. At present, the company has about ten employees and is mostly focused on sales and service. "Our identity is service. We want to reach a standard of no more than one day to answer a service request," Markovits said.