“Give us wind, we give you water” is the slogan of Eole Water, a French start-up based in Sainte Tulle, in the south of the country. Its founder, Marc Parent, is also the inventor of the company’s flagship product, the WMS1000: a wind turbine that produces drinking water from the moisture present in the air – “WMS” stands for “Water Maker System”. Holder of a patent for his invention, Marc Parent is currently testing the WMS1000 in extreme conditions, in Abu Dhabi. But the CEO wants to do more than “just” sell his technology to major clients, as he has defined a social and environmental mission for his start-up.
Addressing the access-to-water issue with advanced technology
On Eole Water’s website as well as in the interviews he gives, Marc Parent is quite clear: the goal of the company, its raison d’être really, is to make drinking water accessible to the populations who lack it the most severely, in parts of the world where water scarcity is a plague.
Today, 150 million people worldwide live in remote areas without any access to safe drinking water. Eole Water’s mission is to provide these isolated communities with drinking water.
To achieve that mission, 15 years ago, while he was working in the air-conditioning industry, Marc Parent came up with the idea of using the condensation technique to build a wind turbine that produces water. The system is actually quite simple: the wind turbine uses the wind to create electricity. The electricity then powers a capacitor that condenses the dew in the air. A few meters below, on the pole, the water produced flows directly from a tap. A treatment unit can also be added next to the turbine if the water needs further cleansing. The water produced by WMS1000 complies with, and even exceeds, the World Health Organization standards for drinking water. The whole process is demonstrated in this video:
Eole Water’s windmill is now able to produce up to 1500 litres of water a day, depending on weather conditions. It requires no external energy source, and the company insists that
this new technology is strongly influenced by the principles of sustainable development, with air, wind or sun being the only consumables. There is no CO2 released, no groundwater drilling or water surface pumping.
WMS1000 is thus designed to meet the challenge of access to water, in both social and environmental terms.
Taking the next step
According to Marc Parent, another benefit of the invention is that it makes it possible to bring drinking water production systems to areas of the world which lack basic infrastructure, since no distribution pipes or electrical systems need to be installed. Of course, the turbine can also supply bigger communities which have the required infrastructure, but this is not a prerequisite. However, in order for the innovation to reach the most remote areas, it will first have to become much, much cheaper. As Eole Water and its invention are still in the early commercialisation stage, the WMS1000 is still quite expensive and the company will first have to find large clients – for instance the United Arab Emirates, where the turbine is currently being tested. The next step, once the economies of scale are achieved, will be to make the technology accessible to poorer communities. Eole Water, like any other start-up, is soon going to face the difficult phase of scaling up production, an indispensable condition for the fulfilment of its mission.
(Photo from: http://www.eolewater.com/)