There may not be any river more famously polluted than the Charles in Boston, Massachusetts; no other river has inspired a rock song dedicated to its filthiness. However, much has changed in the fifty or so years since The Standells’ “Dirty Water” hit the radio; the Charles is much cleaner than it used it be.
Still, you might not want to drink from it – and this is where Desalitech, a water purification company with offices in Israel and Boston, comes in. Last October, the company partnered with Boston’s HUBweek festival to purify water from the Charles using their patented Closed Circuit Reverse Osmosis (CCRO) technology. The water was then used by a handful of local breweries to develop uniquely local beers as part of the “Brew the Charles” contest, that by all accounts was a smashing success.
This was just the most public outing for a company that is considered a rising star in the water purification industry – based on industry reviews, accolades, and company sales. In 2016, Desalitech won the prestigious Breakthrough Water Technology Company of the Year Award from Global Water Intelligence, the number one water industry publication. Among their clients are global leaders and Fortune 500 corporations like Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble, and Archer-Daniels-Midland.
Beyond the ‘Beer Test.’
Despite making a name for itself in Boston, Desalitech has roots in Israel, where the technology was developed and first demonstrated.
The company’s success is thanks to their revolutionary water purification first developed for the desalination of seawater, which is extremely energy-intensive. Led by CEO Nadav Efraty, the company has leveraged this technology to create remarkably efficient and effective water purification systems that can be used for everything from wastewater treatment to the preparation of ingredient-quality water.
“When people think about conserving water,” Efraty explains, “they do not think of all the water used for industry purpose. The need for clean water is huge, and there is only a limited supply.”
Desalitech’s technology is helping companies stretch these limited water supplies further. The core of the technology is its patented water treatment process, called Closed Circuit Reverse Osmosis (CCRO). According to Efraty, it is an improvement over traditional reverse osmosis, which has been an industry standard for decades. Even modern reverse osmosis systems are only able to recover about 75 percent of the water treated, and the treatment comes with drawbacks like expensive maintenance, and an inability to adapt to changing water supplies (saltwater, contaminated freshwater, mineral-rich groundwater, etc.). With CCRO, says Efraty, 96 percent or more of treated water is recovered, and maintenance costs are much lower. Also, the system can easily be adjusted on the fly to accommodate changing water supplies.
With CCRO tech, every drop counts
The crux of CCRO’s innovation is in its simple loop design. Traditional reverse osmosis relies on multiple purification “stages” arranged sequentially so that more water is recovered at each subsequent stage. Instead of multiple stages, CCRO recycles water through a single membrane stage until as much water as possible has been recovered. Then it simply discharges the concentrated waste and starts cycling a fresh batch of water. Desalitech’s systems can automatically adapt to meet virtually any industrial need on-the-fly – especially important for industrial waters users that need to recycle their water for reuse and use water from multiple feeds that would require constant tooling with reverse osmosis systems.
According to Efraty, Desalitech is bringing water purification into the 21st century. It is a bold statement, but their customers seem to agree, among them Mark Carroll, a water resource engineer at Archer-Daniels-Midland — one of the world’s biggest food-processing companies — who called Desalitech “the first major change we have seen [in water purification] in decades.”
As Desalitech continues to win the trust of some of the biggest water users on the planet, Efraty said, the company sees each small victory as a step in leading the water industry to its ultimate hoped-for goal – more clean water for both industry and consumers everywhere.