Techopia Live: Ottawa’s SanEcoTec turning water into wins

Fresh off a win at last week’s Bootstrap Awards, Ottawa-based SanEcoTec dropped by Techopia Live to talk about why the company’s work in water treatment technology was deserving of the innovation award.

Els Vanbeckevoort, the CEO and founder of SanEcoTec, says the firm operates in a field that most Canadians take for granted.

“We have it coming out of our taps, we go swimming, we interact with it in many ways but we don’t always reflect on how much energy, time and resources go into treating that water,” she told Techopia Live.

“I think water is essential, critical, and should become the new sexy.”

SanEcoTec designs systems and develops tech to treat water in ways that minimize environmental impact. One of its targets has been the use of chlorine, a common choice in secondary disinfection.

Vanbeckevoort says chlorine has historically done a great job keeping water safe, “but it has its limitations.” The problem with the chemical is that it combines with organics and creates byproducts in the environment that require capital- and energy-intensive pretreatments to mitigate.

Enter hydrogen peroxide, the alternative championed by SanEcoTec, which scientists have long known can be effective as a disinfectant without contributing to the chemical load in the environment.

Discovering the alternative is one thing, Vanbeckevoort says, but it’s been a difficult path to change the paradigm of chlorine water treatments. Regulators rightfully put safety first, which makes proving hydrogen peroxide’s potency a tougher task for SanEcoTec.

With the help of colleagues around the world, Vanbeckevoort says, the firm has had recent successes and recognition for the effectiveness of its chemicals and systems. Its next steps are hiring a bigger sales team to take these solutions to market.

Vanbeckevoort believes the firm is set up to change the water treatment industry.

“Everything touches water, and that really excites us. We’re going to be busy for the next 100 years.”

To hear Vanbeckevoort’s thoughts on how Canada can become a global leader in water, watch the video above.