Monday, December 17, 2012

Fatpipe's First Customer -- Me!

I've worked with Atul Sudhalkar for several years now.  I was very proud this weekend to become Atul's first "customer" for his side business (hobby?) -- Fatpipe.

Here in California, and other places, where disaster can strike at any time, having clean drinking water on hand is a necessity.  It is recommended that every household in California store 1 gallon per person per day - for a minimum of 3 days worth of clean drinking water. In an earthquake, pipes will rupture and pumps will fail.  It is likely to be a few days before emergency services come online.

Water storage, while necessary, is a pain.  In addition to trying to figure out where to put 10-20 gallons of water, water needs to be refreshed every few months.  Experts recommend storing large quantities of water by adding a few drops of bleach (yep, it's a headache, I've tried it).

And so was born Fatpipe.  It is a very simple concept.  Atul came up with a brilliant idea - just build an "inline" water storage reservoir that continually refreshes itself.  When disaster strikes, you simply unplug it and voila - fresh water.

Now here is the cool part.  Since lifting and moving more than, say, 5 gallons is tough for most mortals, Atul designed this so that you can string these together in series to scale this up as big as you need.  So it is possible to daisy chain 3-4 of these together and get 15-20 gallons of continuously refreshed water.  Enough for a large family, all detachable and liftable by a mere mortal.  Need 20 strung together for a larger facility?  Sure why not.  It is clear to me that Atul has spent some time in enterprise technology -- sounds very similar to the modular design of modern datacenters.  Interesting how good ideas get cross-fertilized into unusual places.

Over the last year he has worked to perfect his design and patent the key ideas contained in the valving.  So when he told me he had a few proof-of-concept prototypes that he wanted to install and test in real-life conditions, I immediately jumped at the chance to be his first customer, er, guinea pig.

Last weekend, he installed it in my laundry room.

Here is the official proof-of-concept unit #1, pictured with it's proud papa.

Here is a close up of the top.  For the prototype he used 5 gallon soda containers which are widely available.  Since the normal hose connections are too small and don't circulate the water well enough, he had the cover removed, and a stainless steel plate welded on.

Stainless 1 inch threaded connectors provide inflow and outflow.  

A quick trip to Home Depot and we had the connectors to install this inline to my washer in the laundry room.  This is an ideal place for it.  The washer gets used nearly every day, so will refresh the water constantly.  The PVC was necessary to reduce from 1 inch down to 3/4" which is standard washer hose sizing.

All glued up and ready to go.

Installed onto the tank.  

Disconnecting the cold water inflow.

Draining the water in the hose.

VOILA!  All hooked up.  I pushed it back into the corner and there it sits.  No leaks.

Very cool stuff.  Production units coming soon.  If you want to be part of the testing process, he has a few more test units.  Let me know and I'll connect you.

Be safe!!