3 June 2014
Was invited to attend the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) by Nuffnang to blog about TechXchange – a one-day forum connecting Innovators with International investors and partners to accelerate the commercialisation of new and innovative water technologies. And I admit.. BORING was the first thing that pop into my mind! I am very glad to have gone with an open mind as I was rewarded with a very interesting insight of this Technology Innovation Session. In each session, 4 selected water-tech start-ups presented short 7 minute snapshots of their technologies and solutions to a panel of investors with a “Dragons Den” style questioning. These companies have undergone a rigorous screening and assessment process to ensure they represent a unique selection of companies with clear value proposition and address real and scalable market opportunities, and they will be competing for the Disrupt-o-meter and BlueTruffle awards!
1. Aquanos Energy Ltd – Treating wastewater with minimal Energy
Udi Leshem, CEO and Co-Founder of Aquanos, got the ball rolling with how waste water is a big environmental problem. Traditionally, wastewater are sent to wastewater treatment plants to be treated by microorganisms. However, this requires a large consumption of energy as oxygen has to be pushed into the water to keep the microorganisms alive so as to treat it. Therefore, algae was used as it enjoys a symbiotic relationship with microorganisms. Think about it, algae gives out oxygen during photosynthesis, which in turn is absorbed by the microorganisms which then give out carbon dioxide that the algae needs. Fairly simple isn’t it? Yet it is inefficient as it leaves a large footprint and produces low quality results. That’s when Aquanos came in and developed a unique wastewater treatment technology and process by using a fixed-film system where microorganisms are retained in one reactor whilst microalgae are grown in an algae pond. The latter thus produces a super saturated amount of oxygen and water is then used as a medium to pump oxygen to microorganisms. A simple but robust technique that will bring about positive changes to our environment.
2. Medad Technologies – a hybridization of Multi-Effect Desalination (MED) and Adsorption Desalination (AD) technologies
Joesph Ng, CEO of Medad, talked about how Medad uses low grade waste heat sources (55°C – 85°C) to treat frack water, and even sea water, so as to produce pure water. The first prototype was built in NUS and has been robust in the same COP since 12 years ago with not much invasive maintenance needed. One of the pilot factories has already been set up in Abu Dhabi, where low grade waste heat is sourced from the diesel generators and channeled to the RO Plant to produce pure water. This is particularly useful for Mining/Fracking operations where water is scarce and recovery ratios are required to be high.
3. Uniquest – Sludge Pre-treatment
Howard Leemon, Senior Director/Commercial Engagement of Uniquest, explained the water treatment process produces a large amount of waste sludge which contains lots of organic chemicals. However, the extraction of carbon to release chemical efficiently has been proven difficult, resulting in a large amount of sludge disposal. Lodomat is a low cost method that is effective in reducing and treating sludge, it can also be applied to reduce the cost of nitrogen removal. It is very simple to install and manage the operation with 2 years payback, thus being an incentive to potential investors whilst saving sewage plants a sizeable expense.
4. Baleen Filters – to effectively separate suspended matter from wastewaters
The last speaker of this session was by Yuri Obst, Managing Director of Baleen Filters. Founded by UniSA (hello, South Australian pride here~), the Baleen Filter uses a dual filter/separator to dislodge material caught by the filter screen whilst another sweeps the material away for collection to ensure a smooth, continuous operation. Despite being relatively new in the “water separation” sector as compared to “filtration”, it has proven to solve many wastewater treatment problems and requirements. In fact, one of their clients is SA Water (wholly owned by the Government of SA).
Going green and safeguarding the environment have been a strong selling factor with many companies these days, especially in the oil and gas industry. I’ve thus noticed the three selling points that were pitched consistently throughout the entire TechXchange were: Lesser carbon footprints, Cost Efficient and Energy Reduction. Budding entrepreneurs could use this as a well-worth experience to learn how to present and be prepared to answer on-the-spot questions by potential investors. Of course, being well prepared and able to confidently tackle the questions with high accuracy will increase the faith potential investors will have in you. I’ve always known that water is scarce in Singapore but to be exposed with the amount of solutions to tackle wastewater so as to produce drinkable water gives me hope that we are not tied to limited solutions. Despite this session being different from my usual blogging topics, I am thankful for this opportunity as I was able to take away with many gains and insights that I previously am unaware of.
The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is the global platform to share and co- create innovative water solutions. If you like what you have read and would like to know more about SIWW related articles, www.waterchatter.wordpress.com is a great platform to satisfy your interest!
This article was kindly contributed by blogger Alene Breddemann. Check out more posts by Alene on her blog.