A New Water Market: Think of it as Liquid Gold

May 28, 2010

CBS News
Water is rarely pure.

That, in a nutshell, is the idea behind resource recovery, an emerging, definable segment in the water market.

Resource recovery essentially revolves around developing filters, membranes and other systems to pluck solids out of various waste and industrial water streams and then sell them as commodities. A number of companies already participate in this market. What has evolved more recently is the term and, believe it or not, that’s significant. Once a seemingly disparate group of companies can get lumped under a shared conceptual umbrella, potential customers and Wall Street analysts start to listen.

A big part of the appeal, of course, is that these processes turn waste into gold, or at least into hefty sacks of nickels. Municipal water agencies, mining outfits, and oil companies now regularly spend billions a year to process their waste streams. Getting votes or CEOs to approve upgrades to waste systems is rarely easy because the money literally goes down the drain. By adding in a payback mechanism, waste upgrades become that much more palatable.

Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, one of the early leaders, has created a system that crystallizes and extracts 85 to 90 percent of the phosphorous and 15 percent of the ammonia from human sewage streams and converts it to a high-grade fertilizer it calls Crystal Green.

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