“The Water Industry Can Transition Faster”
Climate change is coming at us from all angles and the solutions for climate change have to come from a similar array of angles and possibilities.
In the world of cleantech, there are a lot of highly visible solutions, like the wind turbines on the side of the highway or solar panels on a neighbour’s roof. But one of the most hidden, but very important solutions to mitigating climate change is in the area of industrial efficiency – making industrial and manufacturing processes much more efficient in order to reduce their environmental footprint.
Industrial efficiency has been called the ‘invisible climate change solution’ because it’s often happening behind the scenes in complex operational conditions that very few people understand. But, it represents an enormous opportunity for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC estimates that improvements in industrial efficiencies could reduce GHG emissions by up to 25%), energy consumption rates, and operational costs.
Can AI Improve Industrial Efficiencies in Watertech?
Driven by climate change imperatives, and stricter environmental legislation, many industrial processors are looking to decrease their water footprint inside their fence, and this is leading to opportunities for watertech companies that can find cost-effective and innovative solutions for improving industrial water usage. (See our Watertech Roundtable article for a review of the BC watertech landscape)
Once such company is Pani Energy from Victoria BC, who is addressing industrial efficiencies in the watertech sector through their Pani Digital system – an operational intelligence software platform that uses artificial intelligence to optimize desalination and waste-water treatment plants.
Pani Energy is a made-in-BC success story (they emerged via the University of Victoria), and are starting to roll out more and more deployments of their technology across the globe. Plant owners and operators log in to Pani Digital and see how to optimize their plant’s energy consumption, chemical usage, up-time, equipment life, and operational costs – improving energy efficiencies by up to 30%.
Artificial intelligence is starting to play a bigger role in industrial efficiency – as sensing devices and big data gather more and more information about the plant operations, there is an emerging need for tools to make sense of it all and aid in decision making.
As Pani Energy describes it:
“There are several thousand operational possibilities, such as flushing, maintenance schedules, variable demand, membrane scaling/fouling, variable recoveries, variable feed water qualities, and chemical dosing, and each possibility leads to a thousand more scenarios. Current best operation technologies or SCADA systems completely ignore and cannot handle such complexities. This results in plants losing 5 to 30% of their operational costs in losses – until now.”
The Future of BC Watertech
Pani Energy CEO, UVic engineering graduate Devesh Bharadwaj, has been hailed as “The Future of British Columbia” by The Vancouver Sun, and the Pani Energy has been recognized in a number of prestigious industry awards including:
- “Top 5 Water Most Disruptive Technologies” at the Global Water Summit in Paris, France.
- Winner of Imagine H2O Asia’s demo day in Singapore
- World’s top 100 startups at Slingshot Switch
Pani Energy has also had success attracting investment (including a $100K grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada), and will be doing another financing round in early 2020 (contact Pani Energy for more information).
Pani Energy was an active participant in Foresight’s Launch program, and credits some of their success to the network and mentoring opportunities they received at Foresight.
“Since we joined Foresight, we’ve quadrupled our team within the last year, experienced tremendous growth and successfully raised capital. Their advisors really understand deep tech, and how to align your business models and technology in an emerging market. I was really impressed with Foresight’s structure and follow-up.” says Bharadwaj.
The Big Picture is Simple: We Need More Drinkable Water
The big picture for Pani Energy, and for other watertech companies in Canada is simple – fresh water supply is lagging behind demand and climate change is putting more and more pressure on water utilities.
Business-as-usual approaches to water management and watertech is no longer sufficient – there will be a growing demand for innovation in the area of desalination, wastewater treatment, and re-use.
AI-based applications that improve industrial efficiencies will play a vital part in the future of watertech. The watertech industry, along with the whole economy, is transitioning to a low emissions, energy-efficient future – technologies such as Pani Digital will help the water industry transition quicker.