Authors – Manasa K R & Goutham V
Water scarcity has become the reality of our lives both in urban and rural surroundings. While climate change has affected the rain pattern, sporadic rains do bring in adequate amounts of water for human consumption. However, most of it is going down the drain wasted due to lack of rainwater storage facilities.
If we collect the plentiful water that pours during monsoon, we will never run short of water even in summer. At the same time, if that rainwater collector can harness solar power as well, that would address the most pressing needs of our times – power and water!
Samit Choksi and Priya Vakil Choksi, an NRI couple who worked in Singapore, London, Atlanta, and San Francisco, wondered about finding a solution to these major social problems when they came to India and thought of contributing their bit to their motherland.
The Choksi couple brainstormed about various solutions to solve typical issues faced by urban areas regarding water and energy demand. They came up with this innovative idea ‘Ulta Chaata’, which has resulted in an inspiring green-tech start-up named ‘Think-Phi’ in 2015. The device is aptly named Ulta Chaata since it resembles an inverted umbrella, which basically functions to collect and purify rainwater during monsoon for providing potable water and solar energy during the rest of the year.
Ulta Chaata works best when installed in clusters of 10 pieces, wherein each of these individually takes up not more than 1 sq. ft. of real estate, and provides a catchment area of about 360 sq. ft. Each unit is solar integrated and has RFID sensor, which wirelessly controls through the ‘Phi-box’ where all the Ulta Chaatas are connected through a pipeline to this box.
First, the rainwater falls on the top of each Ulta Chaata, then the water will undergo the first level of physical filtration through a mesh of around 2,000 microns. Then the water passes through a mesh of 20 microns which is placed in the rod. After this first filtration, the water reaches the common ‘Phi Box’. Here the water is completely purified using UV filters and activated carbon filters. After this stage of filtration, potable water comes out, which is stored in a tank. This water can directly be used for drinking purpose!
A single unit of Ulta Chaata starts from INR120,000 and varies depending on the size and has the capability to harvest and filter up to 85,000-100,000 liters of potable water during each rainy season. Further, the unit produces energy with the help of solar PV panels during the dry season, can be used as a Parasol to provide shade at bus stops and railway platforms. A single unit of High-end Chaata can capture maximum energy of 35KWp.
The Think-Phi startup is funded by Nimmagadda Prasad, a serial entrepreneur, who earlier invested in Matrix Laboratories, Care Hospitals, etc. The venture has already made its early sales to major clients such as Indian Railways, Godrej Interior and Rustomjee. This product is designed keeping in mind many factors, says Think Phi founder Samit Choksi, who aims to expand this globally.
Ulta Chaata is definitely an eco-friendly and energy-efficient solution to all our worries regarding water and power. However, we have to see if the hefty cost of installation is going to prevent its mass acceptance!