Necessity is the mother of all inventions and Majik Water is no different except for the fact that it is timely.
The invention by Beth Koigi is coming at a time when technology is becoming part of everyday life even in the most unreached and far flung areas of Kenya.
The journey started when she joined university and the water in her dormitory was anything but…
Koigi says that she was confounded when she opened the water tap only for filth with bacteria to flow.
Targeting global market with Majik Water
She built her first filter within months of joining the university and started selling filters to others soon after.
And thus, an idea materialised propelling her into the frontlines of innovators seeking to provide scalable solutions to people’s needs.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that 1.8bn people will be suffering from water scarcity by 2025.
Koigi says that the drought that hit Kenya in 2016 was her motivation to thinking about climate change and the water scarcity occasioned by the same.
During the season, her water supply was turned off entirely.
“Going for months without any tap water became a very bad situation,” she was quoted by The Guardian.
She added that she also learned that having no water at all is worse than just having unpurified water.
Koigi’s plans is to increase access to drinking water among low-income household using the Majik Water innovation.
Selling water filters in Kenya
From her university time innovation, Koigi has sold over 5,000 filters in Kenya in the past 5 years.
“However she is increasingly coming across areas of Kenya where there’s regularly no water available as rivers run dry and the water table drops,” says a statement on the cpmapny’s website.
Majik Water born at Singularity University
Koigi joined up with two other women Anastasia Kaschenko who is an American environmental scientist and British economist Clare Sewell during a 4-month programme at Singularity University.
Majik Water was conceptualised during the time at the Silicon Valley-based thinktank where Koigi and the two women created the system which traps water from the air.
Solar technology is used to convert the air into drinking water.
Koigi’s device won the first prize at the EDF Africa awards.
According to Majik Water, there is six times as much water in the air as in all rivers in the world.
“We are using hydrophilic materials to capture this water. If you have air you can have clean, safe drinking water.”
Kaschenko says, “Water begins to evaporate on the ground but increases by about 4 per cent in the atmosphere, and that’s water that’s not being tapped.”
NASA Ames in Mountain View California
The Majik Water system can generate up to 10 litres of filtered water a day.
“This proof of concept prototype “hacks” existing technology to generate 10 litres of water per day from the air using solar technology. We operated this prototype at NASA Ames in Mountain View California, where the relative humidity is c.58 per cent, in line with much of Kenya.
Majik Water uses hygroscopic substances like silica gels to absorb water from the air.
The gel is then heated with the solar to release the water.
In assembling the water harvesting system, solar panels used for the prototype are the most expensive input on the device. However, the team looks to scaling up to 100-litre systems which could produce 10 litres of water at only USD 0.10.
The Royal Academy’s Engineering Africa prize
The Africa Prize encourages ambitious and talented sub-Saharan African engineers from all disciplines to apply their skills to develop scalable solutions to local challenges, highlighting the importance of engineering as an enabler of improved quality of life and economic development.
Crucial commercialisation support is awarded to a shortlist of innovative applicants through an eight-month period of training and mentoring.
Following this period of mentorship, finalists are invited to present at an event held in Africa and a winner is selected to receive USD 32,000 along with three runners-up, who are each awarded USD 12,000.