Made in the Bay: Device from Lafayette company makes water out of air

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KTVU) – A device looks like an ordinary water cooler, but it can make water out of air.

Wayne Ferreira is a former professional tennis player and co-founder of Lafayette-based Ecolo-Blue, which makes AWG's, which stands for automatic water generators.

"It sucks air in. We have a condenser inside the machine which freezes the humidity and drops it into a holding tank at the bottom of the machine," said Ferriera.

The humidity thaws, runs through a series of filters and comes out ready for drinking.

A small model makes eight gallons a day and sells for about $1,300.

Ferreira says his technology will not solve California's drought, but it could certainly help. He also has machines that produce 2,500 gallons of water a day.

"We can aid, we can help. We can make it rain every day," he said.

The former tennis champion met Thursday with representatives from UNICEF, which is looking for innovative ways to help solve the shortage of clean water in third world countries.

UNICEF says it is impressed by the concept. "We really believe there is no one solution. But solutions from different places, ideas from different places can make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of children, said UNICEF's Tanya Accone.

Ferreira, who won a silver medal for doubles in tennis during the 1992 Olympics, says he became interested in the technology after he retired from tennis.

He says he has spoken to the California farm industry about AWG's as a possible solution to replace water in wells. But he says they tell him it is too expensive right now.

Still, if the drought continues on, he says expensive water may be better than no water.