Global environmental challenges
A better way to clean water?
Treating water for human consumption is costly and energy intensive. Is there a more efficient way to do it?
Gunter Pauli thinks so.
In the first innovation explored by PhD, entrepreneur and eco-designer Pauli in the ZERI Foundation’s two-year essay and video project The Blue Economy, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs, the self cleansing mechanism found in natural water sources is identified as a possible solution to treating water without the huge cost in chemicals and energy.
Rivers clean their own water all the time, and for free, Pauli says in his essay. Their secret? A combination of gravity and a swirling motion called the vortex. If there were a way to replicate that function in water treatment facilities, it would mean energy savings and less cost for producers down to consumers.
This is the idea that inspired Swedish inventors Curt Hallberg and Morten Oveson to design and build the technology to replicate the self-cleansing function of the vortex.
Based on this technology, they started a company, Watreco AB, initially serving water-dependent businesses like ice rinks and golf courses.
Watreco, Sweden’s 2009 GreenTech company of the year, is now taking the vortex into a whole new arena: industrial water treatment and desalination.
Are they onto something big?
(The Blue Economy presents 100 innovative business models based on technologies inspired by nature. Pauli says the aim is to inspire entrepreneurs to use these technologies in new ways, in the hopes of building a world economy that recognizes sustainability and social capital as chief values.)
Photo shows a man on the bank of Songhua River during sunset in Harbin, the capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province in China, Nov. 26, 2005. REUTERS/Jason Lee