Innovator aims to help offset water charges

A Draperstown company has turned one of Northern Ireland's greatest natural resources - rainwater - into an innovative business idea. The company, Rainvault, has been helped by Invest Northern Ireland to develop a radically new system that harvests and purifies rainwater for domestic and business use.

Based in the Workspace Business Park in Draperstown, Rainvault has developed a system that could provide residential and commercial users with up to 100 per cent of their water requirements depending on the levels of rainfall.

In addition to Export Start support, Invest NI is helping the company with R&D funding through the Compete programme to pioneer purification technology that makes it possible for rainwater to be used for cooking, drinking and washing. This support enabled the company to link up with experts at Queen’s University’s industry leading Questor Centre in the development of the purification system.

Rainvault is the brainchild of Vivion McSorley, a qualified electrical engineer, who also runs Electrical and Data Services, a successful electrical contracting business.

"The idea came to me about three years ago when I was driving through a rain storm and the debate was starting on the introduction of water charges,” says Mr McSorley.

“It seemed sensible to me to look at how rain could be saved and recycled to help offset water charges. After all, we are not short of rain in Northern Ireland. This led me to look at how home and business owners could turn it into a resource through an effective recycling system. It also has benefits in terms of reducing the carbon footprint of the current water supply network.

"We have now developed three systems offering three levels of water usage. One system provides up to 50 per cent of your water needs, including water for laundry, toilet-flushing and in the garden; a second provides up to 97 per cent, including water for bathing and household cleaning, and the third up to 100 per cent for cooking and drinking. I’ve been able to use my electrical engineering skills and knowledge in the development of the pumping and purification systems," Mr McSorley adds.

Mary Gormley, Manager of Invest NI’s North Western Regional Office, commenting on Rainvault’s plans, says: “This is a product with huge potential in the UK, Ireland and other countries which have high levels of rainfall. While rain harvesting systems are not new, Mr McSorley has used our programmes to add significant value through his work with Queen’s University on an innovative purification system.

“Market interest in the system from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is already substantial and a large number of systems have been installed. The applications of the system are extensive and could offer the potential of significant costs savings to users such as hotels, nursing homes, factories, schools and hospitals,” she adds.