Most wastewater treatments employ chemicals such as peroxide or chlorine to make water safe for re-use or disposal at industrial sites.
“Basically like throwing a bomb in the water — it kills everything,” says CarboNet co-founder Amielle Lake.
She believes her B.C. cleantech startup can shift reliance on such methods at hydraulic fracturing operations in the oilfields through a new treatment derived from organic material.
“Because we can pull out the key contaminants instead of just killing everything, we have a very cost-effective solution for [clients],” she said.
CarboNet is drawing closer to commercialization after recently concluding a seed-funding round that drew $5.5 million from angel investors.
Its treatment method relies on what it calls Nanonet technology — chemical nanoparticles that act as a coagulant.
The technology is used at a containment system — essentially a large container without a roof — located near a frac site and targets specific contaminants inside the wastewater, which then float to the surface of the water to be removed.
The water is then either re-used during fracking or stored in a frac pond.
Contaminants being targeted include iron, hydrocarbons and bacteria.
The next stop on the road to commercialization is Texas, where CarboNet is opening two offices focused on distribution, manufacturing and sales.
“It’s full steam ahead,” Lake said.
“We’re very focused on building a meaningful company. We think what CarboNet is able to do and the importance of water treatment [means] that we really do have a very large opportunity in front of us.”
CarboNet is also exploring additional wastewater applications beyond frac sites in the oilfields.
Lake said it’s not yet been proven but the company believes the technology could also help the mining industry to pull out wastewater contaminants such as selenium, arsenic and mercury.