Water recycling is still a hot environmental issue but last decade’s expensive and uneconomic desalination plant boom has taken the shine off the subject. The water treatment technology is there but the energy costs have been prohibitive.
Now a series of global ‘long-term play’ venture capitalists (long-term venture capitalists are a rare breed) believe they can start a new world water revolution by using modular technology that slashes the cost of energy to convert sewerage and other waste waters, not to drinking water, but to water that can be used on farms, gardens, in air conditioning, toilets and similar non-drinking uses. That slashes the need for top-quality water so less dams and other sources of high-quality water are required.
The technology comes from Israel and most of the capital comes from the US but, to the surprise of the locals Down Under, they have chosen Australia and Melbourne as their corporate base.
The technology arose when Israeli water technologists were working on a major long-term industrial waste technology system. They realised that part of the system — an aerated, low energy use membrane filter — could be separated and had great market potential. They set up a pilot plant and it worked. They will complete a full scale plant in Israel in the next few months and a second is planned for a top hotel in the Virgin Islands.