Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


WATLY Report Summary

Project ID: 698688

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WATLY (An autonomous and mobile water treatment plant powered by solar energy)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2016-07-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

WATLY project has been conceived with the aim to provide a concrete technology answer to the following human needs:
• 1.1 billion people worldwide still do not have access to a safe source of drinking water, causing more than 4,200 deaths from water-related diseases every day;
• 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity (more than a fifth of world’s population) and 5billion worldwide still have no access to internet.
Water and energy are highly interdependent and are both crucial to human well-being and sustainable socio-economic development. Moreover, it is meant that the limited availability of these resources as well as the lack of provision of related services dramatically undermines health, limits education opportunities and reduces family’s potential to rise up out of poverty.
In this worldwide context, the innovative solution proposed by WATLY addresses the increasing global demand for safe sources of drinking water and green off-grid electricity, by combining highly efficient photovoltaic panels with thermal energy production, used to desalinate and purify water in-situ (thus preventing waterborne diseases). In addition, WATLY system will be equipped to provide internet connectivity and mobile chargers in remote areas (see figure 1).

According to the overall WATLY concept and purposes, the project team has assessed and set the following three main objectives:
1. Scale-up of the system and integration of new features
Scaling up Watly 2.0 machine to Watly 3.0 represents the natural evolution of a different approach: Watly 2.0 was considered a product, purchasable by a family or a village. The overall objective is to create an infrastructure of machines connected each other. This network delivers services and represents an attractive business for governments or big corporations (NGOs) that want to spread out people’s welfare.
2. Certification and live Demonstration of Watly 3.0
Certify water purification level and the security of the entire machine by an external laboratory is one of our main goals in order to create a trust relationship between WATLY and final users.
3. Successful final Business Innovation Plan and commercialization activities for WATLY 3.0
Based on the results and feedback gathered in the framework of the dissemination and promotional activities carried out, we are experiencing a significant global interest for this infrastructure. The following step will be to well-address this interest, creating a business relationship with commercialization partners in order to facilitate the future market uptake of WATLY 3.0.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"The main goals to be achieved for this first period are:
I. the design and developments of the main modules composing the Watly 3.0 pilot machine;
II. the implementation of promotional activities and the identification of a significant event in order to present the live demo of the WATLY 3.0 machine;
III. the establishment of new partnership or relationship in order to start an industrialization process of the WATLY 3.0 manufacturing.
The first goal was reached, since we created the first mockup of Watly 3.0 machine that will now be implemented and assembled with all the technologies selected for the in-field operations (see figure 2). The second goal will be definitively reached in October 2016, since we are going to participate at one of the biggest faire about inventions and new technologies: the MakerFaire at Rome (October, 14th-16th). An international event in one of the most important European capital cities will offer us the perfect audience and the right timing to mainstream our first result (see figure 3). With reference to the third goal, it was evaluated an industrial partnership with Primiceri Snc; an Italian company that operates from more than 30 years in planning and production of energy management system. The first step with this new partner will be the machine testing on a real operating conditions, research and development and re-implementation of all parts that will be considered improvable (see figure 4).
Summary of work performed during P1:
The work performed during these first 10 months of project was mainly devoted to the design and realization of the main WATLY components and modules. To this scope, as preliminary step, the working team moved to the new headquarters based in Italy where the first thermodynamic computer in the world took shape. The technical team of engineers and designers started designing and creating the first modules called "wings", which act as heat engines to power the water purification process. At the same time, the central structure designed to sustain the photovoltaic park, has been takeover by Labor (our subcontractor) and a local manufacturer.
The main achievements obtained during the period can be summarized as follows:
Mechanical: the 8 wings have a unique arc-shape structure that has been meticulously welded and painted in order to prevent rust for at least 15 years. Load-bearing and easy to assemble, the central structure has been created with unique modular walls: thermal insulating and mechanically resistant, have been customized to this special structure (see figure 5). W-Tank and W-Light are the tools that people will use to pick up services provided by WATLY machine. The W-Tank first prototype will be presented at the MakerFaire in October 2016, whilst the W-light is in the assembly phase (see figure 6).
Electrical: the entire electrical process was automated, and each parameter is constantly monitored in real time, whilst all types of possible failures are reported to the system. This configuration process depends on the machine equipment (pumps, sensors, actuators, etc.), and will be completed in the upcoming months.
Thermodynamics: thermodynamic circuit is powered by vacuum tubes with "out of scale" custom measures that allow us to optimize the transport of the machine and generate an amount of thermal energy much higher than standard tubes. The circuit was dimensioned and we produced the first evaporator, the core of the water purification process (see figure 7).
User interface: we have created a screen on both sides of WATLY central structure through a system of projectors. With a diagonal of 9 meters, this interface can express through animations and sounds the real soul of WATLY (see figure 8)."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

It is usually forgotten that global progress cannot be defined as such when there are still billions of people who live disconnected from technology and from modern civilization services, such as water, electricity and internet connectivity.
WATLY represents an infrastructure that will allow these individuals to have access to evolving instruments and well-being. In this view, WATLY is a technology oracle, a bridge with the modern and future technologies thus creating new markets and new ethical consumer. Its main concept is focused on the relationship between humankind and nature.
This start-up is revolutionizing the global scenario presenting a new industrial paradigm based on the energy_net, where Internet merges with the production of green electricity and with the treatment and distribution of pure water (see figure 9).
The immediate impact that WATLY offers is a life-saving difference since those larger-scale solutions, such as piped water systems, desalination plants or an electricity network, take time to set up and implement (often involving years), and are likely to be hindered by high capital costs, lack of proper operation, as well as are dependent on plans that cannot be afforded or maintained in developing countries due to lack of skilled human resources.
In order to maximize the expected impact, as well as to facilitate the future market uptake of WATLY innovations, a set of significant and well-targeted communication activities were carried out: hundreds of articles, events, videos have been published and disseminated during the first period through relevant media channels (CNN, Playground, Wired, TEDx, Bloomberg, RAI, el pais), and talking about the revolution that WATLY is leading in the world.
According to the communication plan defined, we will continue to promote the project and its findings during the entire period of the EU Grant. Our objectives will be to highlight the benefits of the H2020 SME-Instrument, to attract business and potential partners, and create market demand, among others. We are reaching this scope through the performing of audience-specific communication activities towards stakeholders, potential partners, customers and end-users, academia and EU institutions.

Related information

Record Number: 192917 / Last updated on: 2016-12-15