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Air-cooler’s water can produce crops and vegetables – an Accra, Ghana experience

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Ductless air conditioners are capable of producing 60-100 litre of cool water in 24 hours time

By Dr.Mohemmed Habibur Rahman, Professor of Pathology, Department of Pathology, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Bangladesh
At present: School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Consumer Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana. P.O.Box: LG 586, Legon
All photos by Dr.Mohemmed Habibur Rahman.
February 2014

I have been living in the west Legon neighborhood of Accra, capital of Ghana but found very little vegetation around. Accra has had an extremely hot and humid climate. For example, the high temperature averages above 30 °C, and humidity levels reach 80% June through September. This year, it is very exception. There was little rain and I found only four day short showers in the last six months. Grasses have turned gray and bone dry. Water is indeed scarce in supply. Municipal drains are also dry. Infrequent water supply caused supply of drinking water as a lucrative business. A bottle of water measuring 1.5 litre is sold at GHS 2.5, which is equivalent to one US $. The water sold in sauces is not cheap as well. 20 paise can buy a litre. Thus, there is no water to grow vegetable in the inner city and to get green vegetable is also difficult.


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However, my search for alternative source to grow vegetable continues. Eventually, I discovered that my air cooler fitted with my living room is soaking a considerable area after having a run for 10 hours at night in the morning. I put a bucket and collected 60 litres of cold water in 24 hours. Using air-cooler water is not very well known in Ghana and elsewhere. However, Air conditioners are a common consumer purchase as in any country with a similar climate and a growing consumer class. In Ghana, more than 100,000 room air conditioners are currently sold each year with the number expected to grow by about 8% each year.

Air conditioning is common in the US, with 88% of new single-family homes constructed in 2011 including air conditioning, ranging from 99% in the South to 62% in the West. In Europe, home air conditioning is generally less common. South European countries such as Greece have seen a wide proliferation of home air-conditioning units in recent years.[37]In another southern European country, Malta it is estimated that around 55% of households have an air conditioner installed. Global warming has seen an exponential growth in the production and sale of air-coolers in developing countries. However, harvesting of its water and its wider use has hardly noticed. There is a common belief that the water coming out of air-cooler is not safe people are scared of handling air-cooler water due to fear of spread and growth of microorganisms. Thus, more research is necessary to make this valuable commodity to be used safe. We may use filtration, and disinfection to provide a potential use of this unlimited water source to green the city using air-cooler water which is now considered as a waste.

Mini-split systems – today usually called ductless air conditioners — typically produce 9,000–36,000 Btu (9,500–38,000 kJ) per hour of cooling. They are capable of producing 60-100 litre of cool water in 24 hours time. If proper plan is made, this waste water may help producing different crops like maize, guinea corn, millets, beans, cucumber, spinach, passion fruit, lettuce and other crops round the year. Cars and vehicles which are fitted with air-coolers can easily harvest their own water and recycle to wash the car.