A Sioux Falls businessman hopes a technology that quenches the thirst of U.S. troops in deserts overseas will tap into a profitable market on the home front.
Sam Makram hopes the latest water cooler talk will center around his own water cooler.
"I call it a dehumidifier with an attitude, that's what it is," Makram said.
Makram's product is changing attitudes about what do to with the water that collects inside the household dehumidifier.
"Normally, people just throw it either in the toilet or the garden and we thought we could do something more with it," Makram said.
Like turn it into drinking water.
"It tastes great! It tastes great," Makram said.
Makram's combination dehumidifier and water cooler collects air through a fan and creates condensation through a chilling process.
"So this is the cloud of the machine," Makram said.
The water cooler's 'cloud' produces a kind of 'rain' inside that runs through a series of filters and purifiers, plus UV rays to kill bacteria and it comes out as crystal clear water.
"We will filter the water, we'll add the minerals and it will be 100 percent drinkable water," Makram said.
The technology is already in use overseas where diesel-powered dehumidifiers can crank out more than 1,200 gallons of drinking water a day.
"We are a vendor for the U.S. Army, so they use our bigger products, bigger scale products to be in Iraq and Afghanistan," Makram said.
But with the wars winding-down, Makram is looking for smaller-scale, civilian uses for his product.
"We do need a new market and I can't see a better market than our market here," Makram said.
The home version of the dehumidifier produces up to eight gallons of drinking water a day. Makram says families who buy bottled water can save hundreds of dollars by making their own. Plus, it's been tested by the state health department.
"So we know that we have 100 percent good product," Makram said.
Right now, all the water coolers are made at a factor in China. But Makram hopes to build a manufacturing plant in South Dakota within a couple of years.
"Right now, we are about a month-and-a-half back-ordered, but it's for Texas, Florida, California. It's not from South Dakota. We need something from South Dakota so I don't have to fly a lot," Makram said.
And with so much of the country devastating by dry conditions, Makram is out to prove that when it comes to a high-tech hedge against drought, it's not the heat, it's the humidity.
And Makram knows just how scarce of a resource water is. He's a native of Egypt.
His water cooler costs around $1,300.
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