About six years ago, when it became clear the world was entering a water crisis (specifically, a lack of potable water), the market turned its attention to desalination names like Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ:CWCO) and purification plays like Tetra Tech, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTEK). And why not? Those technologies seemed like the best way to create more clean drinking water. In retrospect though, Consolidated Water Co. and Tetra Tech weren't necessarily on the cutting edge of a world-saving technology, but rather, simply had access to something that merely responded to a challenge. It wouldn't be until six years later that a true, next-generation technology would be available to domestic investors, via a young company called Lifetech Industries Inc. (OTC:LTCH), and its AirWell System, which is the company's line of atmospheric water generators.
What's an atmospheric water generator? It's - in simplest terms - a way of sucking moisture out of the air.... enough of it to collect in quantities that make it worth the effort, and worth Lifetech Industries Inc. being in the business.
It sounds like science fiction. In fact, it's been a side-story in one of the most popular science fiction films of all time. In the first Star Wars flick ever released (Episode IV, for you Star Wars gurus) back in 1977, the franchise's hero Luke Skywalker had his humble beginnings as a moisture farmer on the arid planet Tatooine. The movies depicted the moisture-farming equipment as 15-foot high structures that literally de-evaporated water from the planet's air. As it turns out, it's not a crazy idea after all. It can be done, efficiently. LTCH is doing it.
But how does it compare with alternative methods of supplying clean water? There are pros and cons to every method of doing anything, but the AirWell System really does solve a couple of major logistical problems that Tetra Tech and Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. can't.
Tetra Tech, for instance, has built a name for itself as a desalination company, stripping salt out of seawater. It can also clean wastewater and brackish water. Its treatment facilities are high-tech to say the least. Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. is in the same business, though generally refers to its desalination process as seawater reverse osmosis (or SWRO). It does most of its business in the Caribbean and Cayman Islands. The problem? Both companies have to have access to some sort of supply of water - dirty or salty - in order to provide clean water. Ergo, neither TTEK nor CWCO is in a position to do much business where there isn't much (or any) water to begin with... like the desert, or in under-developed (infrastructure-wise) locales.
Enter Lifetech Industries Inc. and its AirWell Systems. It's neither geographically or supply-limited. All it needs is air, which is the one thing that is found all over the earth. And, since the AirWell system purifies the moisture it finds in the atmosphere, it doesn't even need to be clean air. Indeed, the company has already started to plant seeds in Africa, where the need is dire. In partnership with a company called SunPlex Limited, LTCH will be the supplier of atmospheric water systems in ten African countries over the next five years, which could mean up to $75 million in revenue - and possibly even more - to the company. That's just a drop in the bucket though.
All told, the water business in worth $400 billion per year, and could be worth $1 trillion by 2020 as the population grows well beyond the globe's capacity to produce clean water. Given the market cap of only $51 million, LYCH owners have quite a bit to look forward to.