As announced in June, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) made an investment in Forward Water Technologies (FWT) through BIC’s Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI).

With this investment, FWT has located its micro-pilot-unit (MPU), a pre-commercial development scale-up of a proprietary forward osmosis technology, at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park in Sarnia, Ontario. A fully scalable engineering skid will allow FWT to collect critical operational information, which can be in turn used in the field. Using this data and additional funding from Alberta Innovates and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), FWT will execute on a commercial scale field trial near Airdrie, Alberta.

“Alberta Innovates sees potential in this technology to improve water re-use at lower cost within the oil and gas industry while significantly reducing the amount of wastewater sent to disposal,” said Richard Nelson, program director, oil sands tailings, Alberta Innovates.

This project has just been initiated and FWT anticipates being on the ground in the summer of 2019 just outside of Calgary. Nonetheless, the equipment being installed in Sarnia is critical to that project, as it will allow process modelling and to potentially train operators ahead of field tests.

“Sarnia-Lambton fully supports solutions for oils and water issues. We believe that it is a nice synergy between Alberta Innovates and BIC to enable FWT to provide those solutions that we need,” said Sandy Marshall, executive director of BIC.

The micro-pilot-unit (MPU) was built to study FWT’s proprietary forward osmosis process, develop new and more efficient means for completing the process, and to serve as a testing facility for applications and client tests ahead of commercial scale activities.

“This fully scalable process skid shows how our proprietary forward osmosis process can efficiently remove pure water from highly contaminated waste water streams,” said C. Howie Honeyman, chief executive officer, FWT. “Typically, these waste streams are so heavily contaminated with salts and dissolved minerals they are sent for deep well disposal, which is costly and permanently removes the water from the water cycle or are boiled to dryness which is expensive, energy intensive, and creates a huge GHG footprint.”

This process eliminates these drawbacks and creates fresh water for re-use, surface release, or even agricultural needs. FWT will ultimately be able to send the clean water for portable applications.

“It has been great working with BIC, Lambton College, and The Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park. These organizations all have the willingness to participate in innovation and the development of new technologies and approaches,” said Howie.


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