This tiny solar-powered plant cleans up dirty water
The world’s first fully solar-powered beverage micro-factory began its journey in the spring of 2020, when Swedish startup Wayout International bid farewell to its container-sized machine from the port of Norrköping, south of Stockholm.
With shipping options already drastically curtailed by Covid-19, the micro-factory has deployed across the Baltic, Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, via the Suez Canal, stopping by Saudi Arabia, India and Sri Lanka, finally landing in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From there, he trucked through the developing rural landscape, the Ngorongoro crater wall at an altitude of 2,640 meters, the great plains of Namiri and up to the Mara River. It’s a big change of scenery from a noisy industrial site in Sweden to a peaceful ecotourism camp in the northern Serengeti.
It had taken Wayout 18 months to go from idea to full product. The result is a module that converts the sun and local groundwater into pure, potable water – and which can also produce premium craft beer and soft drinks. A single module produces 150,000 liters of clean, re-mineralized water per month and allows the operator to serve up to eight different types of drinks through the integrated dispensing station. The micro-factory is available for hire and fully automated beverage production takes place through a desktop app allowing the local operator – and Wayout, in Stockholm – to monitor and control the process remotely. The Serengeti system is powered by a 110 kWp solar field with the energy stored in 2000 Ah OPzS batteries.
In the Serengeti, water is plentiful, but unsuitable for drinking. The content of natural minerals is extreme, making it corrosive to teeth and internal organs, and the unique ecosystem – including the famous “great migration” of wildebeest – makes the living soil occupied by bacterial processes. This is why the micro-plant draws its water source from a local groundwater borehole and filters it through an advanced integrated treatment system that removes all impurities before remineralizing it for optimal taste and quality. .
“It started as a fun project with friends, at a time when craft beer and micro-brewing were one thing,” says Martin Renck, one of the three founders of Wayout. The first system was developed for use in the hospitality industry and by major breweries and beverage brands looking to produce locally and sustainably. When the trio started pitching the concept to potential customers, they didn’t realize how urgent the issue of water purification was. “When we listened to the comments we received – not just in Africa but in all the warm regions of the planet – it became clear that it was the mineral water that was the truly remarkable thing. We realized that we not only had a business opportunity, but also a bigger mission to take on, ”says Renck.