Plant & Works Engineering
Birmingham start-up awarded funding for technology that generates water out of air
Published:  12 July, 2023

NovNat Tech, a  new company based in the Unit 9 incubator at the Birmingham Research Park, has announced it has secured funding from Innovate UK to develop a novel technology that can generate water out of air.

NovNat Tech is offering solutions to one of the most critical problems of today and the future, the global water scarcity crisis, and says it is developing a first of its kind ‘atmospheric water harvester’ to help address the global water shortage.

The harvest uses a proprietary material that has already been vigorously tested for its water sorption characteristics, and has displayed breakthrough performance, capturing and releasing water from air at a faster rate and with less energy required than any existing material.

The Innovate UK funding will support the development of an on-board vehicle atmospheric water generator, that can produce clean water while on the go, and the five-month project will allow the company to further expand on the core technologies and IP developed so far.

Founders Abdulbari Belouafi and Ibrahim Albaik first met as graduate researchers at the University of Birmingham, after which they worked on developing the breakthrough technology, which has broad-based patent protection.

They then attended UoB Elevate, an incubator and business growth programme for University of Birmingham students and graduates, before founding NovNat Tech, an engineering design company to develop water harvesting systems enabled by advanced materials.

While the innovators saw a broad range of applications for their technology, the University’s Entrepreneur in Residence helped them focus their thinking and shaped their business proposition.

The innovators applied for, and won, grant funding from the Climate Innovation Platform, and entered Unit 9 to build a prototype that can collect water from air, utilising the waste heat emitted from various processes within buildings to produce potable water, with a net zero carbon footprint.

Belouafi  said: “As first-time innovators we were unaware of the range of support that is available. The monthly tenant meetings allow us to discuss our current challenges with fellow innovators and business support advisors from University of Birmingham Enterprise, and the information share and signposting is truly valuable.”

Unit 9, University of Birmingham Enterprise’s incubator, provides flexible, low-cost facilities to meet the needs of aspiring companies who want space for medical research, proof-of-concept, or prototyping activities.