BCBusiness Innovators 2012, Saltworks Technologies Inc | BCBusiness
Back: 2012 BCBusiness Guide to Innovation
Congratulations to Saltworks Technologies, #2 in 2012's Most Innovative Companies in B.C.
Here in water-rich B.C. it’s easy to forget that one in six people on the planet does not have access to fresh water. At Vancouver-based Saltworks, however, turning saltwater and wastewater into potable H2O is a top priority.
Frustrated by traditional expensive and energy-intensive methods of desalination, co-founders Ben Sparrow and Joshua Zoshi spearheaded their patented Thermo-Ionic technology in order to make fresh water more accessible. Fuelled by solar and waste heat, their low-energy, low-pressure process uses plastic equipment rather than the expensive steel required for other methods. Their technique also filters out more water than other technologies and produces a solid salt byproduct. These cuts in energy input, capital cost and efficiency mean more affordable fresh water. As our Innovators panellist Dean Prelazzi says, “This technology is addressing a mammoth problem and as the world starts to recognize the shortage of fresh water on the planet, the sky’s the limit in terms of the potential for them to continually innovate this process.”
The equipment is being piloted in Alberta’s oil sands to reuse industrial wastewater, in the Canadian navy as a sustainable source of drinking water for sailors and in Australia as a water source for its drought-ridden inland region. The company is backed by industrial heavy hitters Teck Resources Ltd. and Cenovus Energy Inc., and as Sparrow notes, “industry is very much funding the scale of the development of this low-cost desalination solution, but our long-term goal is to one day reduce the cost of water for human beings who can’t afford it.”