On October 16 and 17 the second Clean Technology business and investment matchmaking conference for the African continent is to be held at the Killarney Country Club in Lower Houghton, Johannesburg. Called ‘Viridis Africa’, the event is dedicated to entrepreneurs and corporates who are seeking funding to introduce clean technology solutions and services.
Principals who present their business opportunities at this event would have the audience of numerous local and foreign investors, stratified according to their interest and investment criteria. Investors would include venture capital, private equity, project and corporate finance outfits and others dedicated to the clean tech sector. They would also include funding agencies, major industrial conglomerates, technology specific investment funds and major companies who seek strategic alliance and acquisitions.
The company Optima Agrik will be presenting a business case for investment at the event. Optima Agrik has developed processes that will desalinate water cost-effectively, at a high yield, and without generating any liquid waste. The processes are designed for the treatment of brackish water and are especially applicable in areas where water is scarce and where it is not possible to dump liquid waste.
Optima Agrik’s unique processes – some of which are patented – are based on ion exchange technology that not only has a low energy requirement but also enables it to generate recoverable by-products that may be sold to recover most if not all of the cost of the process.
According to Optima managing director, Ockie van Niekerk, “the company is now commercialising the process it has first developed for the agricultural sector and is issuing shares to raise the necessary funds to develop another process that has potential application in industry, for the treatment of domestic waste and agriculture.”
Says Van Niekerk, “Modern human activity, combined with the factor of population growth, is having a dramatic impact on the available water resources that we as humans and all the other living organisms on planet earth need for survival. Although the pollution caused by industry and mining gets the most press coverage, the impact of domestic waste and agriculture can no longer be ignored. The impact of these is more widespread and just as severe, but because it is not so dramatic it is often regarded as less newsworthy.
“Nowadays, most water desalination is done at coastal areas where sea water is desalinated, while inland a special type of desalination is done for specific industrial uses, namely demineralisation. These projects are driven purely by economic forces. For instance, the desalination of sea water is normally done at places where the population of the town or city has grown to a point where the fresh water supplies have become inadequate.”
According to Van Niekerk, two potential markets for desalination are opening up: agriculture and treatment of waste water.
“In agriculture, more and more farmers are forced to use water of which the salt content is so high that it compromises the yield and quality of crops – and increases the risk of salination of the soil. Farmers are also under increased pressure to reduce the amount of unused fertiliser that runs off from their operations into the environment.”
Waste water is normally treated to remove only the physical and organic contaminants in order to get it to the minimum standard where it can be released into the environment. However, these processes do not remove the dissolved inorganic salts (referred to as Total Dissolved Solids or TDS) in the water. Water that is released into the environment has often other users downstream. This impact has grown to such an extent that many inland users are now considering desalination.
Optima Agrik has two pilot plants running on processes specifically developed for the irrigation industry and will soon install a full-scale plant that will treat the water of a citrus farm north of Polokwane.
Optima Agrik has been granted patent rights in South Africa, the USA and Australia for the technology it has developed.
Viridis Africa invites clean tech company owners to submit a business plan or executive summary for evaluation, and to be included in the line-up of the event.
The following are some of the clean tech sub-sectors in which principals may consider their company, initiative being presented:
• Wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, clean coal technologies
• Fuel cells, advanced batteries, hybrid systems
• Building efficiency, smart grids, waste heat recovery
• Water treatment, water conservation, waste water treatment, desalination
• Recycling, waste treatment, organic matter, plastics.
Presenters will have the opportunity to introduce their investment case to interested parties throughout the lifecycle of their business, i.e. from conceptual, early stage / start-up through to established business.