Podcast | September 18, 2013

Disinfection In A Decentralized World


Rick VanSant, President and CEO of UV Pure Technologies, discusses UV Pure’s distributed treatment solutions and the trend from large centralized treatment facilities to smaller, less complex ones.

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The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.

Water Online Radio: What does UV Pure Technologies do?

Rick: We make differentiated and advantaged UV purification systems that use UV energy to disinfect water, whether it's drinking or waste water, or rain water reuse.  Our systems are for applications up to about a million gallons a day.

We focus on what would be considered smaller applications in this crowd like schools, hospitals, small communities, and some unique applications like aerospace where we're the disinfection technology for water brought onboard all the new Boeing 787 dream liners.

Water Online Radio: What changes have you seen in the market over the last five years?

Rick: There are probably three major trends that we observe in the industry. Fortunately they're all positive for UV Pure Technologies. But one is clearly a move away from traditional chemical disinfection, usually chlorine or chlorine like chemical, to non-chemical disinfection. A because it's more efficient and effective, and B because it doesn't carry the risk of creating carcinogens.

So that means that the beneficiaries of those trends would be membrane systems and UV systems, that don't create any risk associated with their processes, and are more effective. So that's one, chemicals to non-chemicals.

Number two, and it really goes to your question, is a move globally away from the huge centralized facilities that cost so much and are so complex, and take hundreds of miles of piping and infrastructure to either bring wastewater to or move treated drinking water away from, to decentralized treatment. So smaller, less expensive, less complex, treatment centers that are further and further dispersed in markets, whether it's developed or developing.

What goes along with that is the third trend, which is really a move to remote management. Smarter technology that can be remotely managed via computers and by exception rather than having outriders jump in vehicles and drive all over.

Water Online Radio: You indicated that UV Pure Technologies was poised nicely to ride those trends. Talk about that in a little more depth.

Rick: Well we treat small applications. Up to a million gallons a day. We work with the companies that are focusing on, what I call, distributed treatment. So the smaller applications, whether it's part of a water or a waste water treatment process, closer to where it's used, or closer to where the waste is created.

Our systems use multiple sensors so we're able to completely diagnose what's happening with the treatment of water, and the disinfection, the reduction, or deactivation of pathogens, and make that information available via a web enabled Wi-Fi environment.

Clearly we're not adding chemicals to water. We're in fact pretty much environmentally neutral. We don't put anything in; don't take anything out, so UV is a green technology, if you will.

Water Online Radio: I'm curious about this trend you mentioned -- the move to more decentralized, smaller plants, away from the huge water treatment plants, and the financial implications of that. A simple minded review would suggest building bigger would be less expensive. It's not that simple, I understand, so enlighten me a little.

Rick: There are lots of ways that you would measure expense in water treatment. One of them is the relationship between where the value is at and how much of that value is actually accretive to users.

Take a great big central drinking water plant, for example, where you've got a huge capital infrastructure; pipes and the plant itself, and you're adding all of the value and taking roughly a third of the energy that typically municipalities use to treat that water, and then you're pushing it through pipes that leak.

At the end of the day, a very low percentage of water is used to actually drink. A higher percentage, but still small, is used for other purposes, having been treated.

So it's a very inefficient approach to adding value at a central point, and then pushing it through a pipe system that may or may not be efficient, and an end use that is probably one percent drinking water and the rest you use for cooking, or other purposes like watering lawns or whatever, but it really doesn't need to be treated to that level.

So in certain jurisdictions, water is treated centrally but to a low level of efficacy, then pushed out through pipes and finally stepped up to potable water, but only where it's really needed as potable water. Or, even more efficient, water is treated close to where it's needed by systems that are much less expensive, don't require huge buildings, and can be remotely managed…

Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.