APAC 2017 Australian Enterprise Awards

28 APAC / Australian Enterprise Awards 2017 , AE170047 Best Industrial Wastewater Treatment Company 2017 University of South Australia start-up, Baleen Filters comprises a teamof peer recognised experts in liquid and solid recovery as well as water re-use across industry, withmore than 200 installations operating across Oceania since 1999. We explore a key attribute behind the firm’s phenomenal success. All the water we have is all the water we will have. It has been the same water since the dawn of creation responsible for the birth and re-birth of life on earth. Our traditional ‘once-use and dispose’ practice to urban water supplies is now facing increasing scrutiny. We drain the land and treat waterways as waste dumps with widespread devastation, altering marine ecosystems and Nature’s water cycle in the process. “We must Close-the-Loop on the shoddy, inefficient and expensive way we treat water and return the natural water cycle to the land if we are serious about counteracting the effects of climate change.” exclaims Yuri Obst, Founder and Acting CEO of Baleen Filters. The good news is water re-use is progressively gaining acceptance but we must drastically expedite this endeavour on worldwide basis. Technological enhancements during the past two decades have made Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technologies the best available technology for approaches to treatment and re-use. With a footprint 2-4 times smaller than conventional treatment processes and delivering unmatched effluent quality at 50% less operating cost. But MBRs are horrendously expensive to maintain, such that many applications for difficult to treat water cannot be served by membrane filtration. However, such a technology- market gap can be bridged by an equally scale-able technology, known as Baleen, which is already playing a critical role in advancing re-use opportunities either as an alternate approach or as a cost-saving adjunct to higher purity water. Baleen is demonstrably the most affordable technology available to deliver required quality standards for water re-use. Studies and practice have shown that land-based ecosystems pose a healthy appetite for sewage and if managed correctly can help overcome our shortcomings with Nature. In comparison to MBR, Baleen requires just one-third of the footprint and operates at less than 5% of the cost while still complying with the most stringent of water requirements (such as California Title 22 for re-use). Drawing on nearly 20 years’ experience in the industry, Baleen Filters pioneers best practice in wastewater infrastructure and seeks collaboration for technology transfer internationally. Yuri Obst, Founder and Acting CEO, explains the reason behind the firm’s unreserved dedication to preserving the world’s water. “Visualise a future in which the Earth’s natural cycles and urban economies co- exist. Marine outfalls transformed into Sewer Mines with micro- plastics and other non-biodegradables (recyclables) recovered separate from energy-rich organic ‘waste’ (as carbon- negative feedstock) and nutrient-laden ‘water’ reclaimed for irrigation.” There is more to Baleen than just filtration. What makes Baleen truly unique vests in its ability to separate traditionally unfilterable organic matter in a naturally thickened state to deliver traditionally unrealised by- product recovery opportunities. The choice of whether to use Baleen is a matter of simple economics – separated ‘waste’ has energy value while filtered ‘water’ (containing free, trace amounts of fertiliser in the form of nitrates and phosphates) has re- use value. It is the combination of these two deliverables that promote an immediate opportunity for a green future in wastewater infrastructure with scale-able circular economies. Conventional approaches to extracting fertilisers from wastewater only to re-apply them later to meet agricultural need simply does not stack up as good economic sense either to the end user nor the natural environment when considering the notable concerns associated with agricultural run-off. For food and municipal effluents, ‘waste to energy’ schemes become even more viable when realising ‘waste’ harvested from ‘wastewater’ with Baleen is typically 10-12 times more concentrated in energy than the dilute effluent feedstock presently used in conventional biogas production. Emission based estimates (UNEP 1998) determine there is enough energy-rich ‘waste’ contained by ‘wastewater’ to yield a greenhouse benefit of around 1 billion tonnes of CO2 avoided