Author: Aaron Rosland, Counsellor (Commercial-Ontario), High Commission of Canada, New Delhi
People around the world are searching for solutions to water challenges. Ontario is creating the opportunities people need to find those solutions.
Boosting the Smart Grid's I.Q.
The Smart Grid is getting a lot smarter, thanks to world-leading technology from Toronto's ENBALA Power Networks, and that's good news for water utilities, power grid operators and the environment.
Water utilities use a lot of energy during the pumping, storage and treatment processes. But there is often flexibility in exactly when and how much power is needed at any given moment. ENBALA (“energy balance”) smart grid technology allows water utility and power grid operators to work closely together on a second-by-second basis to manage grid demand spikes, maximize system efficiencies during off-peak times and minimize overall energy costs. ENBALA Power Networks, a 2011 Artemis Top 50 advanced water technology award winner, is currently piloting the technology in Windsor, Ontario, and at four large U.S. facilities operated by American Water.
"Ontario offers a great springboard that enables us to work with customers across North America and, looking ahead, in Europe and China,” says Ron Dizy, ENBALA Power Networks' President and CEO. Originally based in B.C., ENBALA now has the bulk of its operations in Ontario. “We're growing quickly and because of the world-leading Ontario water technology companies that came before us, there are talented people with skill sets in water, energy and process controls, which is what we need” says Dizy. “The other element is that the water-energy challenge is global and because Toronto has always been very internationally oriented, people here are used to thinking in terms of global markets."
Cool energy savings win customers for hot water tech start-up
For office towers, factories, shopping centres and most other large modern facilities, air conditioning is absolutely critical and represents a significant portion of both the building's operating cost and its environmental impact. At the heart of those air conditioning systems is a cooling tower, and Toronto-based evandtec has found a market sweet spot by making that heart healthier and more efficient.
The evandtec solution, which recently earned the company a spot on the 2011 Artemis Top 50 list of advanced water technologies, combines a patented water treatment system designed to remove calcium scale and prevent biological contaminants with a remote monitoring system that enables operators to make sure the system is always working at peak efficiency.
Customers are realizing average savings of 10 percent on their cooling systems energy costs and over 20 percent on water usage, which can really add up when those customers include major U.S. operations such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and V.A. hospitals. That blue-chip client list also serves as a ringing endorsement for the innovative young company that still thinks of itself a start-up.
"It's absolutely amazing to me the support that the government has shown for helping Ontario's water technology industry develop and expand into new markets,” says evandtec's CEO Paul Wickberg, who joined the company two years ago from Minneapolis. “There's export development support, growth matching funds and a terrific talent pool – it's a fantastic environment."
Focus on reliability, durability wins in water markets worldwide
From groundwater remediation at U.S. Superfund sites to developing more effective approaches to water treatment in the Alberta oil sands, there is a growing need to find flexible solutions that can meet a wide variety of challenges.
Purifics' unique ceramic membrane technology is up to the task, and it's one of the reasons the innovative company from London, Ontario, was recently named one of 2011's Top 50 advanced water technology companies by the San Francisco-based Artemis Project.
Founded in 1993, Purifics ES Inc. develops and manufactures proprietary, fully automated, chemical-free water purification and treatment technologies that are known for reliability, durability and low life-cycle cost. The company earmarks 15 per cent of annual revenues for R&D, an effort that has paid off with sales across Canada, the U.S., Korea, Australia and other world markets.
"Being recognized by the Artemis Project is great because it will help open more doors, give us more awareness in the marketplace and add to the momentum of major contracts we've won recently,” says Purifics President Brian Butters. “Right now, we're going through exponential growth and all the challenges of developing new systems and outgrowing our current facilities, but they're good problems to have."
Double awards boost UV Pure Technologies
Toronto-based UV Pure Technologies is having a banner year, winning two global awards in the first five months: an Artemis Project Top 50 award as one of the top 50 emerging clean-tech companies and a Frost and Sullivan 2011 Best Practices award as the leading water treatment technology for industrial and commercial use.
A developer and manufacturer of advanced water purification technologies, UV Pure currently has more than 10,000 systems installed in North America, Australia and New Zealand, China and Brazil. Its customer base includes GE, Siemens, 3M Corporation, Premier Tech, Kinetico and Culligan. An aerospace version of a UV Pure's system has been chosen by Boeing to purify water on the new 787 Dreamliner.
"We're very excited by the global recognition we're receiving for our products, which offer leap-frog scale improvements in UV purification," says UV Pure's President and CEO Rick VanSant, who credits part of his company's success to Ontario's supportive environment for water technology companies. "There is strong government policy support for R&D, an excellent network of universities and a solid supplier base that is transitioning from the auto industry. We've even been able to repatriate some of our supplier sourcing from the Far East, saving us time and money."
R&D + talent + support = game-changing technologies
Why have so many truly game-changing clean water technologies been developed in Ontario?
Over the past 30 years, Trojan Technologies of London, Ontario, developed some of the world's most innovative and successful water purification technologies. Today, Trojan has the largest installed base of ultraviolet water treatment systems in the world, with installations in more than 60 countries including more than 1500 in Europe.
"Right from the very beginning, the company had a real vision about research and development and so invested heavily in product development and in looking for applications for the company's products," says Trojan's president, Marvin DeVries. "We also had a great working relationship with the Ontario Ministry of Environment. When we developed a new product, we needed a place to take it and prove that it would work. The Ontario government was instrumental in getting the technology approved and accepted. The final ingredient was that we were able to fine great talent – engineers, technologists, scientists – right here in Ontario."
Water safety breakthrough wins in world markets
While threats to the safety and security of water supply a growing concern, system operators in 30 countries are sleeping a little easier thanks to the unique, world-leading water quality monitoring systems developed by Real Tech Inc. of Whitby.
Real Tech systems allow operators to monitor their water quality in real-time, 24/7 and, if there's a problem, take action immediately. No longer do operators have to wait five days for lab results. Real Tech also developed a portable lab device for field tests that can produce results in minutes. The success of these technologies has fuelled Real Tech's rapid growth to the top ranks of Canada's green tech companies.
Real Tech found substantial support in Toronto-based MaRS, a leading innovation centre that connects the worlds of science, business and capital with the goal of dramatically improving commercial outcomes for entrepreneurs.
"In Ontario we have a lot of resources available to us as an emerging company, especially in the clean tech sector," says Real Tech's co-founder, Jodi Glover. "MaRS in particular has been a great supporter, giving us tools, resources and networking connections within the clean tech sector to help us grow and succeed."
Ontario funding reduces time-to-market for Xogen Technologies
For water system operators in urban areas who need to increase their capacity but are stymied by a lack of real estate, the breakthrough new electrolytic technology for sewage treatment from Orangeville-based Xogen Technologies could be a lifesaver.
Xogen's innovative made-in-Ontario process shortens the typical treatment time from 8 hours down to just 15 minutes, which means the plant's footprint can be much smaller, cutting capital costs by as much as 40 per cent. The process also hydrogen and oxygen gases that the operators can either re-use or sell. What made Ontario the ideal location to develop the new technology?
"Access to academic institutions for research and development assistance, access to human talent from the various colleges and universities, access to the largest industrial base in Canada and proximity to the U.S. market," says Xogen Technologies' President and CEO Angella Hughes. "Funding from the province of Ontario also enabled us to accomplish things much faster and at a lower cost to the company."