Treating water off the grid

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Increased global demand, dwindling supply and climate instability have made water the preeminent commodity of the 21st century.

Its optimal use is a critical challenge for communities around the world, demanding innovation in wastewater treatment, desalination and agriculture.

Currently, three per cent of all North American electricity is devoted to wastewater treatment. New Environment Canada wastewater effluent regulations in 2020 will require additional upgrades and resources, some in remote locations without the capacity for expensive infrastructure.

Island Water Technologies (IWT), in Montague has launched a revolutionary solution to this dilemma with the world’s first self-powered wastewater treatment system designed to operate off the electrical grid. Combining cutting-edge biotechnology, electrical engineering, and precision manufacturing, its modular, energy-independent REGEN™ system redefines cost-effective, decentralized wastewater treatment.

Dr. Patrick Kiely, IWT CEO and co-founder, is mindful of its benefits in remote Canadian locations.

“In Nunavut, small, isolated villages of 200 to 1500 people have limited infrastructure budgets,” he said. “They ship in diesel once a year at great expense and use it to run everything. A renewable, self-powered wastewater system solves a multitude of problems.”

Other target markets include military and humanitarian organizations directing disaster relief and refugee settlements, remote rural communities, golf courses and agricultural and mining operations.

Kiely, a Ph.D. in microbiology from University College Cork with Penn State University post-doctoral studies in environmental engineering, had already developed significant innovations in his field, including water treatment solutions for NASA’s international space station.

With a Canadian wife and son, his business and research efforts are now focused in P.E.I. and Ottawa, with thriving research relationships with Carleton and Dalhousie universities, and the University of Illinois.

Prof. Rob Jamieson, Dalhousie’s Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Ecological Engineering, was instrumental in showcasing IWT’s REGEN™ system at the University’s Bio-Environmental Engineering Centre in Truro, N.S.

“There are urgent environmental issues in Canada, and even major cities such as St. John’s, Halifax, and Victoria have had to redefine their wastewater platforms recently,” he says.

“The REGEN™ installation uses less energy and plastic polymer materials to accelerate bacterial growth and improve wastewater treatment with the potential to be significantly more energy efficient than traditional systems.”

Jason Aspin, IWT co-founder and CEO of Aspin Kemp & Associates, which recently secured an $80 million GE contract to provide electrical components for drilling ships, is equally enthusiastic about the potential of the REGEN™ system.

Intent on making Montague, P.E.I., a centre of excellence in marine and offshore technologies, he is partnering with IWT to design, manufacture, and assemble the REGEN™ modules in his Montague and Poole’s Corner facilities.

An angel investor in the enterprise, he notes “Not only is REGEN™ environmentally sustainable and a good engineering solution, it makes economic sense.”

Patrick Kiely concurs.

“Water scarcity is an increasing global issue. It’s time to recognize how this unique technology — designed, developed, and manufactured in P.E.I. — offers a solution for the world.”

Organizations: University College Cork, Island Water Technologies, North American Penn State University NASA University of Illinois Bio-Environmental Engineering Centre Aspin Kemp Associates GE

Geographic location: P.E.I., Nunavut, Ottawa Truro Canada Victoria

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Recent comments

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    November 13, 2014 - 17:30

    Hurray for the company, I hope they do well. Someone should inform the Charlottetown mayor and city council about this new "scarce" commodity. Water, THE commodity of the future, yet we waste it on cruise ships for a paltry fee. The citizens will always come second to big business, either through shortages or positive life style changes, as the trendies like to call it.. WATER is the next BIG business. It already is. We have the CEO of Nestle products that wants to control all the water on the planet (on behalf of the UN) Treaties have already been signed by most countries of the west and most of Europe & Asia. Treaties go back to 1992. LOOK IT UP. The UN controls all water in these treaty countries, it just isn't exercising their control at the moment. Much of the so called grass roots environmental movement was hijacked or co-opted, effectively changing the original goals.

    November 09, 2014 - 21:17

    Wow ! We will learn how to recycle water at the same time Irving wants to suck the Island dry with deep water wells to grow spuds ! What will our masters do !