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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Save Lives and Much More

AltelaRain® 600
A nice bit if inventing reported in Ocean News and Technology Magazine, September 2011 issue:
New technology brings water treatment to the masses

For over 100 years, the removal of salts from water required high pressure, large factories, metal parts susceptible to corrosion and massive amounts of electricity. All of this cost a bundle and led to the creation of huge desalination plants usually on the ocean somewhere. “Desal,” as it's called, meant only the richest countries could afford the factories.

Because the desal technology was too cumbersome and not available to water treatment facilities across the nation, the salt byproducts, such as total dissolved solids (TDS's), and other hazardous chemicals from industrial uses, have found their way into our rivers and drinking water. A new desal technology has emerged that not only can desalinate water at an affordable cost, but can also simultaneously remove harmful chemicals and disease microbes from the water.

It all started years ago when a scientist working in a small lab at a university in Arizona, had an idea. Dr. Jim Beckman, a professor at Arizona State University, asked these questions: Why couldn't desalination technology avoid using pressure, metal parts, and large amounts of electricity? Why couldn't the technology use no pressure and instead rely on plastic parts to avoid corrosion, and thus use almost no electricity? So Beckman went to work – and after years in the lab, he produced a system that can do just that. In order to treat the water, Altela technology uses the simplest of Mother Nature's processes, making rain. The mechanics are simple: each AltelaRain® tower is composed of two chambers. Steam and hot air taken from a heat stream or waste heat, circulate throughout the two chambers. As brackish water enters one chamber, it evaporates by passing through the steam. The water's contaminants fall to the bottom and exit the chamber. Next, dry air is pumped into the bottom of chamber, which carries the evaporated water molecules into the other chamber. From there, the water is condensed into clean water droplets. As the water condenses it becomes colder and emits heat that re-enters the other chamber and evaporates the brackish water.

Altela manufactures small, portable units that can be set up anywhere. That means the technology can remove salt and all harmful chemicals at any site in the country easily, cheaply, and with 90% less energy than other water treatment systems. An AltelaRain® module could run off of solar energy, enabling it to treat water from a village in Africa to the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania.

What does this mean, in practice? It means that all water coming from the Marcellus Shale natural gas wells, known as “frac water,” can be made cleaner than drinking water before going into the river. It means that runoff from a landfill, water that pollutes the streams, rivers and oceans ultimately can be treated on site before it is released. And it means that every village in Africa can have a small water treatment plant to stop the deaths of 3.5 million people every year from a lack of safe drinking water.

In fact, Altela's facility in Albuquerque is busy churning out modules to do just that. Its AltelaRain® 600 systems have also been installed in Pennsylvania and are processing water from natural gas wells to keep the industry going, despite new regulations, and sustaining 156,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.

“We set out to revolutionize the desal treatment, and we ended up finding a solution to water treatment all over the world, from the Marcellus Shale, to the smallest village in Africa,” said CEO Ned Godshall. “Pennsylvania is the beginning, but now we are poised to provide clean drinking water for the planet and stop the needless deaths of 3.5 million people every year.”
Good for people, good for the oil and gas industry, good for clean water.

Nice. Well done, Dr. Beckman!

UPDATE: No, I don't own any stock in Altela nor is this meant to be investment advice. If you are taking investment advice from me, you are not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, are you?

Altela, Inc. - Green Tech Report from Altela, Inc. on Vimeo.

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