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Q&A: New blockchain for water treatment solutions (Includes interview)

To understand more about the service and blockchain technology, Digital Journal spoke with Riggs Eckelberry, who is CEO of water treatment solutions company OriginClear. The company’s mission statement runs: “Helping clean up produced water and recycle fracking water, to reduce harm to the environment and lower costs.”

Digital Journal: What service does OriginClear provide?

Riggs Eckelberry: We have three key missions as a company. First, technology to clean water that’s so bad it is usually not cleaned at all. Second, to develop a plug-and-play platform for water treatment systems in a box. Third, to form ‘WaterChain’. This is a proposed cryptocurrency to help fund the new wave of smaller, decentralized water treatment systems.

DJ: How did you develop the service?

Eckelberry: The early impetus for WaterChain came from seeing the need for better funding of smaller, decentralized systems. In the last three months, strategist Tom Marchesello (United States Fund), has really pulled the model together in preparation for our seed funding.

DJ: What type of token do you use and what can it is be used for?

Eckelberry: The WaterChain token is intended to help create a financial platform for the private water treatment systems that don¹t benefit from the millions and billions allocated to costly central water treatment systems.

DJ: Which case studies best show OriginClear in action?

Eckelberry: I spoke on field applications for WaterChain in a CEO Briefing on 6 September and noted how real estate developers are putting together developments of 200 or 300 homes. There’s going to be a golf course. They have a choice of either hooking up to the sewage system and running a sewage line or an on-site system. In the first case, all the greywater and blackwater gets flushed down to the municipality which treats it and does whatever it wants to do to it.

Or, they could instead have an on-site water treatment system which Modular Water Systems provide (and WaterChain funds). It’s a packaged prefab system that gets trucked on-site and plugged in and is designed to be incredibly easy to run. This unit gets delivered on-site, it gets plugged in, and now the real estate development treats the water and then uses the result to irrigate the golf course.

Not only did you now end up with a very ecological outcome because you’re recycling, but you’re also no longer paying for all that virgin water to be poured onto a golf course. Because it is decentralized, all of a sudden you have somebody who has to treat his own water, and therefore has a reason to reuse it.

DJ: Can governments help with these needs?

Eckelberry: When municipalities try to do that they run into political problems. Look at San Diego where you have the ‘toilet to tap’ concept. People are hating that because they just don’t want to hear about it. Whereas with an individual operator, let’s say a rural school, real estate development, community center, factory, or a concentrated animal factory operation- C.A.F.O., an on-site system is optimal.

The CAFO might have tens of thousands or even millions of chickens and they’ve got manure effluent and so forth. If they do a good job of cleaning it onsite, not only will the downstream results be much cleaner, but they’ll be able to reuse the water, and the manure can become fertilizer.

DJ: What are drivers for these changes?

Eckelberry: There’s a lot of reasons why water treatment is moving to the edge. It’s the same reason that people are putting solar panels on their roofs because, frankly, it’s cheaper than buying your energy from the central utility which, of course, has overhead and has to serve people night and day whereas you’re only worried about yourself. That is really the brilliant part about decentralization.

DJ: What is your business model?

Eckelberry: When we put WaterChain in place, we’re really enabling transactions from $2,000 per transaction at the bottom end, such as a system for a home, all the way up to about a million dollars which would be a very large system for, let’s say, factory. They don’t get much bigger than that in this decentralized world. And so it’s basically a way to think about it. Modular Water Systems right now has a multi-million dollar pipeline of business. It’s dependent upon these customers, like the real estate developments, having the money to fund their system.

Now, there’s good return on investment for these systems within two, three, four years, but you still have to find the capital. Imagine if all of a sudden capital was no longer an issue. If you could just tap into the cryptocurrency WaterChain set up to get your system funded, having met certain criteria.

Again, this can be set up with distributed applications that are managed by real people, so you get actual verification because you don’t want the system to be gamed. That’s how things could happen if you actually enable these transactions to occur without requiring conventional bank capital. That would dramatically speed up the business that we are doing with our Modular Water division.

This is why WaterChain is of interest to OriginClear, because it is a financing mechanism for the very business that we are finding ourselves in. It has this amazing upside because we have a simple, robust, inexpensive package that is markedly less expensive than conventional water treatment systems. It¹s also faster to build, more reliable, and can be trucked on-site and so forth.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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