We use water everyday; water for washing, water to drink, or water used for sanitation. When Howie Honeyman thinks of water he thinks of industrial wastewater, the kind used in the oil and gas industry that generally ends up being boiled, buried, or burned.

Howie is partinventor, part academic and part businessman. Sporting a PhD in Chemistry fromthe University of Toronto and 40 patents, Honeyman has over twenty yearsexperience commercializing advanced materials and new technologies. Honeyman'scurrent focus is water, particularly the remediation of wastewater that ispermanently lost today. For example, a common method for Enhanced Oil Recovery(EOR) is to introduce water or steam in the reservoir, resulting in significantquantities of wastewater. Due to challenges in its treatment, wastewatergenerated by oil and gas extraction is often disposed of through deep wellinjection, which eliminates any recycling or reuse opportunities.

Honeyman's company, Forward Water Technologies, is dedicated to commercializing a proprietary forward osmosis technology. That is why Howie jumped at the opportunity to apply for Alberta Innovates funding through the Water Innovation Program (WIP). Forward Water received joint-funding through Alberta Innovates and Sustainable Technology Development Canada. With $1 million in public funding Howie was able to secure an additional $1 million in private capital to take his new technology to market.

Forward osmosis is atreatment technique that produces clean water through the passive(low-pressure) transport of water across a membrane by a chemical solution,leaving behind salts, organic matter, and other contaminants. Forward WaterTechnologies has developed an effective and energy-efficient forward osmosisprocess where the chemical draw solution is converted to a gas for separationfrom clean water and recycled in a continuous closed-loop process. Thistechnology has the potential to improve the environmental footprint ofindustrial operators by increasing wastewater recycling and enabling the safereturn of treated water back to the environment.

Honeyman says the WIPfunding allowed him to build and operate a field pilot water treatment unitcapable of processing 15,000 litres per day of wastewater. This project will assessthe commercial readiness of the technology and provide key information requiredto build and operate a full-scale mobile treatment facility. Private investorsare often cautious about investing in new technology that has not yet provensuccessful at the demonstration scale. Without support from AI and SDTC, Honeymanis convinced that this project would not have been possible. Therefore, boththe science and the future commercial application of the technology is enhancedby Alberta Innovates funding, support and expertise.

Local businesses arealready seeing potential in this technology. Terrapure Environmental is a leadingCanadian provider of essential environmental andindustrial services for industrial, commercial and institutional customers. It operates four facilities in Alberta,including a lube oil recycling facility in Airdrie. This facility was found tobe a perfect location to host a collaborative project between Terrapure andForward Water. Jeff Rowein is the facility's Branch Manager and he sees significantpotential in a continued relationship with Forward Water as a result of theproject. Terrapure's VP of Innovation, Technology and Business Development MikePaszti agrees, calling the FW technology a potential game changer, which couldprovide savings to customers and reduce the need for costly and unsustainabledisposal means such as incineration - very much aligned with Terrapure's Changing Waste for Good brand promise. Howie'stechnology could be used on a contract basis or be moved to full ownership andoperations after units are ordered.

The Water Innovation Program is designed to achieve the goals of Alberta's Water for Life Strategy. The knowledge and technologies developed in this program will help to create a cleantech industry in water treatment, support 30% improvement in water use conservation, efficiency, and productivity by 2030, and provide safe, secure, and reliable water resources for up to six million people while maintaining the health of aquatic ecosystems.