Aug 10, 2022 - Business

Florida startup recycles AC water for cannabis growers and homeowners

Illustration of water droplets making the shape of a marijuana leaf.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

One of the biggest stars at Tampa's Kush Con β€” amongcheesecake-flavored gummies, a stage surrounded by weed plants and vapes claiming to make you better at sex β€” was an air conditioning tech company.

Driving the news: Miami-based FutureAC Water System debuted its patent-pending water recycling product at the cannabis trade show last weekend.

  • The system can convert air conditioning units in homes or businesses into atmospheric water generators for drinking and growing plants.

The pitch: Each home AC produces 5-25 gallons of water a day, meaning that Florida is wasting millions of gallons.

  • That water could be put to use, FutureAC founder Michael Molinar told Axios, especially considering the state's looming water shortage.

How it started: Molinar may have impressed cannabis growers at Kush Con, but he's been out of the weed game for a while.

  • Molinar said he stumbled upon the idea for the water system after spending a decade as a "general advisor" of designing and building illegal marijuana grow rooms in Miami.
  • "I was a one-man army," said Molinar.

Then, in 2009, Molinar was arrested on a marijuana trafficking charge, which was expunged a few years later. It was after his arrest that he decided to develop the technology behind FutureAC.

Between the weeds: Grow rooms usually need their own air conditioning systems since marijuana plants and the lights used to grow them give off heat. Molinar got tired of throwing away gallons of water that dripped out of his window units, so he started using it to water the plants.

  • After testing the water, he realized it was cleaner than what came out of his faucet. "I was like, 'What's going on here?'" Molinar recalled.

Of note: You should not drink directly from your air conditioning drippings. Molinar's units were so clean because he changed his filters every month, in time with the plants' growth cycles, he said.

How it works: After your air conditioner is cleaned, a UV light is added to the air handler to prevent viruses, mold and bacteria.

  • Two AC condenser pumps and a pressure pump are installed to transfer water to a storage tank, which sends the water through a filter to either your fridge or your garden.

What to watch: Molinar is looking to license the technology to air conditioning companies, which can do the installations. He's also pitching it as a resource for emergency responders during natural disasters.

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