Billions of people around the world continue to lack access to sanitation, electricity, and pure drinking water. In India, 88 million people are deprived of safe drinking water owing to various reasons such as dry climatic conditions, groundwater contamination or depletion. Madhu Vajrakarur, an electrical engineering student from Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, is also one of the many in the country without access to a continuous supply of electricity or clean drinking water.
“I was born and brought up in Vajrakarur village. Here, the main source of water supply is through borewells and water tankers. The water drawn from the borewells is heated and then used for consumption. When there are no rains, the groundwater level drops and we are dependent on purchasing drinking water from tankers. My father is a farmer and my mother is a housewife, so their income is low. On some occasions we could not afford to buy the water while other times we would depend on borrowing from neighbours,” says Madhu.
So, this young innovator came up with an unconventional solution. He designed a wind turbine behind his house, which produces both electricity and drinking water.
How does it work?
The 15-foot tall wind turbine gathers moisture from the atmosphere. This is directed through a copper pipe, like the ones used in refrigerators, and finally reaches a three-stage filter.
“The moisture in the wind is directed into the wind turbines frame using a blower placed at the back of the fan. Once this cool air goes into the long frame, the moisture is directed into the cooling compressor which condenses the air into water. The water is then directed through copper pipes into a three-stage filter with membrane filters, carbon filters, and UV filters to collect any dust particles present. Finally, the clean water is accessed through a tap placed on the frame,” says Madhu adding that the water is also collected in an external tank with 40 litres of capacity.
The wind turbine is connected to an inverter with 30-kilowatt capacity and Madhu (23) uses this to power fans, lights, and plug-points in his home.
The wind turbine was made using plastic pipes, iron rods, and some other elements that Madhu purchased online. He started making the turbine in the first week of October 2020 and finished it within 15 days. He took help from welders to make the fan, and his friends helped him deploy the structure. It cost him a total of Rs 1 lakh, which was provided by his parents and from his own savings.
However, Suryaprakash Gajjala, the founder of Archimedes Green Energys that manufactures rooftop wind turbines, says that though Madhu’s effort is commendable, the wind turbine may not be of good quality. He says, “A wind turbine that can produce 30 KW energy for Rs 1 lakh may not be of good quality and may not be able to withstand high wind pressures. The minimum cost of this sort of wind turbine is not less than Rs 35 lakh.”
Building a wind turbine has been Madhu’s dream since the second grade when he first studied about it. Back then, he did not have the experience or technology to make a real one but he would make model versions of it using cardboard for science exhibitions organised in school.
“In the second year of college, I learnt how to make solar power grids, and automatic street lights. This gave me the practical knowledge to work with such technology. In October 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann Ki Baat session spoke about windmills that can generate water and also explained how these wind turbines are deployed in other countries. This inspired me to make one. By watching videos on Youtube I learned more about making a wind turbine that can generate water and electricity. I made drawings of the design, sourced the necessary raw material and started making it,” Madhu says.
Today, the wind turbine provides him with 80 to 100 litres of water every day and Madhu can cut down on high electricity bills from using a motor to pump water from borewells. His neighbours also benefit from the wind turbine whenever they are short on drinking water.
Vannur Vali, Madhu’s childhood friend, is not surprised that his friend was able to implement such an innovative solution to solve his problems. He says, “Experimenting and trying to implement innovative solutions was something Madhu was always fond of since school days. I am very happy that he was successful with the wind turbine and I hope that his efforts get recognised and can solve water problems across the country.”
Madhu is hoping to commercialise his design and help others by setting up this wind turbine in water-scarce areas. If you wish to know more you can reach out to him on [email protected]
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)