Spring 2018 – 497-346: Quality Drinking Water from Air Conditioning Condensate: Social Innovation in Developing Countries

Meeting Days/Time
Tuesdays from 1:50 to 4:30 pm
Phil Lewis (INTM) (plewis@iit.edu)
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome
Social Innovation

This IPRO project will advance a concept developed by previous IPRO teams to harvest air conditioning condensate as a source of drinking water in New Delhi, India and other similar urban environments. The IPRO team will research appropriate individuals and organizations in both India and Chicago as well as interested parties in the US Government and US Charitable organizations. The team will use its research findings to create an action plan and work to advance the use of condensate as a source of drinking water in urban areas like New Delhi.

The heart of the concept is to capture large quantities of condensate from commercial air conditioning systems in New Delhi business districts, and create a transport/distribution system social business model that will bring it to underserved and low income areas that have no infrastructure for efficiently distributing affordable quality water. The condensate would be delivered to local sites, purified and made available via a dispensing system as a business venture. Currently, air conditioning condensate goes down the drain. The value proposition relates to capturing this heretofore untapped water source, purifying it and making it available. It is akin to rainwater harvesting, which is often done via rooftop systems or barrels but instead captures the large quantities of condensate associated with cooling systems. In New Delhi, there are many days where the amount of condensate a commercial building produces represents several thousand gallons. Condensate is non–purified distilled water which is funneled to the buildings drainage system.

Three previous IPRO teams have developed ideas for the beneficial use of air conditioning condensate.  Student ratings of these IPRO’s were very positive and their results confirmed that air conditioning condensate is a valuable resource currently being wasted. There is very little information about the volume of condensate possible and few if any systems to capture it and recycle it. The Chicago Tribune and other prominent news outlets consider water to be a dwindling resource where aggressive conservation is required. This project is responsive to the call for conservation and the trend toward identifying, adopting and diffusing “GREEN” best practices and behavior. The project offers a viable solution to ease local water rationing in New Delhi and nearby villages, as well as other regions with similar characteristics. Students in this IPRO project will conduct research and outreach activities supporting the adoption of condensate as a drinking water resource in India. Illinois Tech students, faculty and alumni with connections in India may also be a terrific resource for the team.

The team will research, identify and contact individuals, non-government organizations and public agencies with a mission and interest in this concept. The team will develop and formulate outreach programs and initiatives to build awareness. The team will also evaluate the impact potential and develop follow-up action plans. Data will be collected and used to further confirm the hypotheses and implementation of the beneficial use of condensate. The team will create a professional paper that documents work that has been done and a path forward toward implementation.

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