Tampa Startup Making Water From Air Says Tech Can Go Mainstream
(Bloomberg) -- Genesis Systems LLC, the latest startup touting a contraption that sucks water out of the air, says it has found a way to do it in a cheaper and more scalable way than rivals. It now needs to deliver.
The Tampa, Florida-based company, which just signed its first deal to install a shipping-container-sized water-harvesting machine at Port San Antonio, will announce on Tuesday several additional agreements in development areas across the world, according to Chief Operating Officer David Stuckenberg. The company has been in talks with entities in 21 countries, with a pipeline of potential tie-ups worth more than $100 million, he said.
Water-from-air technology has been a ripe area for research and development in recent years, especially as climate change forces more human habitation on dry, hot landscapes. But emerging technology is generally much more expensive than desalination. There’s also the question of size, with many solutions producing only limited amounts of drinking water to complement primary sources. Critics also question whether removing humidity from air could disrupt the climate by impacting rainfall, a concern Stuckenberg says isn’t valid.
A Series A funding round of about $200 million is in the works, which would value the company at more than $1 billion, he said. Down the line, the company will consider options for going public. Existing investors include Ned Allen, former chief scientist of Lockheed Martin Corp., and Jordan Noone, co-founder of 3D-printed rocket maker Relativity Space.
Closely-held Genesis’s portable machine -- called Water Cube -- makes 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of fresh water a day at costs below competitors, said Stuckenberg, a research fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and a former combat pilot. He didn’t specify how his desiccant-based technology is cheaper and more scalable or share a firm timeline for commercial production.
Eventually, the technology could help alleviate water shortages and tensions that are being exacerbated by growing populations and a changing climate, said Stuckenberg, who co-founded the firm with his wife, Shannon, its CEO.
“Water scarcity, hunger: These are dragons we can slay with technology,” he said. “We’re not in a race against a competitor. We’re in a race against conditions.”
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