Developers of the Watly standalone water, power and internet system have launched a crowdfunding campaign to allow them to deliver the next generation of the technology to bring essential services to a community of around 3000 people in Africa.
The Watly system combines the use of thermal solar power units to provide clean water through a distillation process along with photovoltaic solar power units to provide power and to drive on-board technologies that include providing a local wifi internet connection.
Watly has evolved since a first prototype in 2013, including a pilot installation in Ghana. A third generation design has been completed. Now the company behind Watly has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with a $75,000 target. This will support a larger pilot for a destination in Africa.
Watly 3.0, as the latest version is known, has a striking appearance. The 40 metre long, H-shaped footprint includes four thermal solar power units, one for each ‘arm’ of the H shape. These feature arched arrays of thermal solar vacuum tubes to optimise the harnessing of sunlight. One of the units houses a highly-efficient vapour compression distillation process. Water is pre-treated using a graphene-based technology, and the final treated water is stored in a 5000 litre tank fitted with UV lamps. Watly 3.0 will produce up to three million litres a year for its 15 year lifespan, enough for a community of 2000-4000 people.
The central portion of the unit has a solar roof with 40 mono-crystalline photovoltaic cells able to generate up to 70kWh/day. Heat exchangers cool the cells so that they operate at the optimum temperature, at the same time pre-heating water before it passes to the distillation process. This meets all the power needs of the Watly, including the power needed by internal electronics such as computers, 3D printers and a wifi internet connection for the community. It also provides a power source for external uses.
The designers have thought through how users will actually access what Watly has to offer. They have designed the W-Tank, a conveniently sized five litre tank that has a valve to prevent contamination and built-in radio frequency identification. The tank is filled by inserting it into a dispenser. They have also designed the W-Light battery unit that can be used to provide up to 400 hours of light or be used for smartphone charging. Users have to replace a W-Light if they wish to obtain a charged one.
The company behind Watly, ENRY’S PLEX SL, has offices in Spain and Italy, and the development of Watly has included support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.
For details of the Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign, see:
- Africa, water supply, Watly