A first-of-its-kind ‘atmospheric water harvester’ has secured funding from Innovate UK. NovNat Tech is developing a technology that can generate water out of air, and is based in the Unit 9 incubator at the Birmingham Research Park.
“The harvest uses a proprietary material that has already been vigorously tested for its water sorption characteristics, and has displayed breakthrough performance, capturing and releasing water from air at a faster rate and with less energy required than any existing material,” said the group.
The Innovate UK funding will support the development of an on-board vehicle atmospheric water generator, that can produce clean water while on the go, and the five-month project will allow the company to further expand on the core technologies and IP developed so far.
Founders Abdulbari Belouafi and Ibrahim Albaik first met as graduate researchers at the University of Birmingham, after which they worked on developing the breakthrough technology, which has broad-based patent protection.
They then attended UoB Elevate, an incubator and business growth programme for University of Birmingham students and graduates, before founding NovNat Tech, an engineering design company to develop water harvesting systems enabled by advanced materials.
While the innovators saw a broad range of applications for their technology, the University’s Entrepreneur in Residence helped them focus their thinking and shaped their business proposition.
The innovators applied for, and won, grant funding from the Climate Innovation Platform, and entered Unit 9 to build a prototype that can collect water from air, utilizing the waste heat emitted from various processes within buildings to produce potable water, with a net zero carbon footprint.
Abdulbari said: “As first-time innovators we were unaware of the range of support that is available. The monthly tenant meetings allow us to discuss our current challenges with fellow innovators and business support advisors from University of Birmingham Enterprise, and the information share and signposting is truly valuable.”
Unit 9, University of Birmingham Enterprise’s incubator, provides flexible, low-cost facilities to meet the needs of aspiring companies who want space for medical research, proof-of-concept, or prototyping activities. For information about space or facilities, contact Angie Reynolds, Head of Birmingham Research Park.