What is WaterFX?
WaterFX is an independent water producer working to provide agribusinesses and utilities with sustainable, affordable sources of freshwater through renewable desalination.
What is WaterFX’s vision?
In short, we aim to end water scarcity, encourage economic growth, and reaffirm access to clean water as a basic human right through renewable desalination. Two thirds of the planet is now defined as “water scarce” and as climate change causes more frequent droughts, our ability to grow economically is continually stressed. We would like to encourage innovation in our aging water infrastructure. We believe that in the future we will no longer rely on unreliable aqueduct systems to deliver water from hundreds of miles away, but rather that we will self generate our own water resources using desalination and reuse.
Why renewable desalination?
Renewable desalination is a global solution with the power to create freshwater from abundant resources such as solar energy and saltwater. Our Aqua4™ plant highlights the kind of solution that is market driven, not government subsidized; it is politically, legally, financially, and sustainably achievable in the near term and an approach that can put arid regions on a path towards true sustainable water independence.
The data being generated by the Panoche pilot proves it is a viable alternative to generate new sources of water alongside conservation and reuse. Using solar energy as the primary fuel source relaxes the total energy demands on the power grid that would otherwise be required for desalination and enables robust, high recovery thermal technologies like distillation to be used. By efficiently harnessing solar energy, we can return hundreds if not thousands of megawatts back to the grid by displacing freshwater imports delivered through energy-intensive pumping stations. As solar desalination scales up, the cost will continue to fall with improvements in process technology and manufacturing – a key-differentiating factor from conventional desalination.
What differentiates the Aqua4™ system?
Renewable desalination, like the Aqua4™ Concentrated Solar Still in use today at California’s Panoche Water District, does not use reverse osmosis (RO) for seawater desalination and instead uses evaporation (referred to as multi-effect distillation) to clean brackish drainage water. As a result, rather than only 50% recovery, the process achieves greater than 93% recovery. This means that for 100 gallons of water treated, only 7 gallons of salt brine are produced. In addition, the concentration of this brine is greater than 200,000 ppm of total dissolved solids (20% salt by weight). With this high concentration, solids are then precipitated out of solution using salt separators and processed for a variety of downstream uses. To learn more about what differentiates Aqua4™ read here.
What are the advantages of WaterFX?
Cost – competitive with natural freshwater
Applicability – can treat a wide range of water qualities
Energy – low fuel consumption, offset by solar thermal energy
Discharge – Second generation will incorporate zero liquid discharge technology
Infrastructure – requires only limited infrastructure in most situations and can be deployed almost anywhere.
Is the Aqua4™ plant sustainable?
Yes, it is a closed loop system that allows for both water and salts to be recycled back into everyday use. The system has a low fuel footprint, because most of the energy used to power the system is collected from solar thermal energy. In addition, over 93% of the drainage water or seawater becomes freshwater, unlike reverse osmosis, which only yields 50%. About 7% of the remaining brine is concentrated for industrial use, which doesn’t harm the marine ecosystem, like traditional seawater desalination discharge. Aqua4 recycles local water resources rather than using expensive transportation infrastructure to move water from hundreds of miles away.
Is Aqua4™ commercial scale?
The Panoche pilot is at commercial-scale, even though it is currently only utilizing 3 out of the 10 evaporation stages for demonstration purposes. During testing, the plant produces up to 8 gallons of freshwater/minute or about 11,000 gallons/day on 6,500 square feet. When the same Aqua4™ module is operating in commercial mode, it produces 65,000 gallons/day of water on the same 6,500 ft² (based on a solar multiple of 1). Modularity also allows for scale-up and scale-down of the system depending on capacity needs, as modules can be added one-by-one depending on water needs.
What are the requirements for an Aqua4™ plant?
The plant requires approximately 160 x 40 feet (6,500 ft²) of level installation space per module, a source water to be treated (can handle varying quality up to 100,000 ppm TDS), wind protection fence, and sufficient site access for routine maintenance. Since the system is entirely modular it can be installed almost anywhere on unusable, non-arable or undesirable lands.
What does Aqua4™ provide?
Aqua4™ provides renewed control over water resources. By treating and reclaiming water that is otherwise unusable for irrigation or discharge, Aqua4™ offers a consistent, cost-effective and abundant source of freshwater, containing less than 5 ppm TDS. It transforms water treatment and management from a cost to a source of income.
What is the WaterFX business model?
WaterFX is an independent water provider – working in conjunction with local water and irrigation districts, WaterFX provides water and water cleaning services to users with saltwater that needs to be desalinated. WaterFX owns and operates the solar desalination units so there is no need for customers to worry about financing the equipment.
Why does WaterFX support an open-source philosophy?
Just like open-source software, WaterFX intends to provide the core building blocks for solar desalination to its users. We feel this is important for the same reason that many companies before us have chosen to be open sourced: because the underlying technology will be strongest if a collective of users is constantly improving it. Therefore, we encourage entrepreneurs, technologists and scientists alike to come visit our demonstration plant, learn how renewable desalination can be applied and contribute to the open source water movement. Join the hydro-revolution!
How can I invest or partner with WaterFX?
Please fill out a contact form with a detailed explanation of the investment or partnership opportunity you’re proposing. We are only able to consider commercial projects with a capacity above 50 GPM this year, but we will be developing smaller scale systems beginning next year in 2015. WaterFX is not yet a public company, but we hope to be someday!