By Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun SentinelMay 22, 2012
Wring cold water from South Florida’s humid air and pour it in a tall glass.
That’s the basic idea behind Drinkable Air, a company that makes a machine that produces purified water from moisture in the air. The company has opened its first factory in Lauderdale Lakes and expects to have an assembly line running by the end of the month.
Jeff Szur and his father, Al Szur, founded the company and invested more than $1.4 million in the business. It has a patent for the ozone process it uses to purify the water.
“Water shortage issues are just beginning,” said Jeff Szur. The company plans to meet the need by building machines that produce purified water cheaply for homes and offices in developed countries, countries that have unsafe drinking water, and areas devastated by natural disasters.
The technology of turning humid air into water is not new, but Drinkable Air uses ozone to purify the water, which the company says removes bacteria and biological contaminants. The result also is tastier drinking water, the company claims.
The company’s early machines used ultraviolet light to purify, which isn’t as effective, Szur said.
The Szurs have been working to improve the machine for the past three years. The basic machine now produces up to 10 gallons of water, uses less energy and is quieter than earlier versions, said CEO Steven Kairis.
The machine retails for $1,995 to $2,400, Szur said. Drinkable Air said it sold its first machines in the last three months of 2011, with quarterly revenues totaling $485,000.
The factory has nine workers and will add 12 more, Szur said. The factory will be able to produce 16 machines with six workers on an eight-hour shift.
Union Dental Corp. of Coral Springs, which provides dental services to police, firefighters and other union members, uses a Drinkable Air machine to cut water costs and provide drinking water for staff and patients.
Joe Pignatiello, business manager for Union Dental, said the dental practices saves about $100 a month in water costs by using the machine, which works best a night when humidity is highest.
Dr. George Green, head of the dental practice and a microbiologist, said he has done his own studies of the machine, and it gets better marks for purity than bottled water he has tested.
“I see numerous applications coming out with Drinkable Air,” said Green, whose dental practice has formed a joint venture with Drinkable Air to produce related products for the dental industry.
The company has 68 distributors around the world.
A 2011 study of the product by Southern University in Baton Rouge concluded there are many uses for the machines. Drinkable Air machines “will have high international demand, particularly in developing countries with scarce water supply and during humanitarian relief situations,” according to the study.
Yemane Ghebreiyessus, a professor who participated in the study, said Drinkable Air’s machine is “promising,” with future possible applications using solar or wind energy. The only limitation the unit has now is that it runs on electricity, but could be attached to a generator for use after a hurricane, he said.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel