Uncovering New Industries for Water Efficiency

Israel has earned a leadership status in the international water arena, but to stay at the forefront innovation must keep pushing forward. A joint project by Israel NewTech, the Neaman Institute and the Israeli Export Institute has been launched in order to map out the needs for new water technology innovations in the largest industries in the world. The preliminary results will be presented in the beginning of next month at a conference at the Israeli Export Institute.

“Israel’s water sector must be very cautious not to rest on its laurels, but to continue to act to cement its leadership,” said Dita Bronitzky, CEO of Ormat, a leader in geothermal energy, at a recent conference run by The Marker magazine on environment and industry.

Israel NewTech, The Israeli Export Institute and the Samuel Neaman Institute for national policy research, are also thinking about how Israel can further leverage its success in the water sector, that’s why they have joined together to work on improving the competitiveness of Israel’s water sector. One of their joint projects maps different industrial sectors with high water use, which need technological innovations to increase efficiency, and even to survive in their competitive markets.

This joint research project was launched in July 2011 and is meant to stretch out over a year, led by Dr. Gilead (Gili) Fortuna, head of the Center for Industrial Excellence, and a senior research fellow from the Neaman Institute. Fortuna brings with him rich experience in Israeli industry, having held senior management positions in the past at TEVA and Israeli Petrochemicals, and he is also one of the entrepreneurs behind the successful water purification company Aqwise. Aiding in the project is Shiri Freund Koren, his research assistant.

“We examine international industries which are heavy consumers of water and whose growth rates can be significantly impacted by improved innovative water technology,” explains Fortuna, “For example the gas and oil production industries. Today their need for vast amounts of water greatly impacts production. The deeper the well the more water they need to consume in order to produce the gas or oil. The world always turned to the cheaper sources for gas and oil production, but today the situation necessitates turning to the more expensive source. One of the main reasons for this high cost is the huge expenditure on water use and treatment that the process demands.”

The research outlines seven industrial sectors which are heavy consumers of water and in need of innovative water technologies to make their processes more efficient:

1. Gas and Oil

2. Mining

3. The pharmaceutical industry

4. Heavy metal processing

5. The semiconductor industry

6. Food Industry

7. Tourism industry (hotels, swimming pools, spas, sites that serve global tourism)

The project is meant to bring a deeper understanding of each sector’s needs, while pinpointing the challenges that require solutions. In other words, the objective is to map needs in different industries in order to create market-focused Israeli solutions, which will be in demand globally.

In order to support the research endeavor the Samuel Neaman Institute is cooperating with Israeli academics, under the supervision of the noted water expert from the Technion (Israel’s leading technology university), Professor Raphael Semiat.

The first two chapters of the project, on the gas and oil production industries and the mining industry, will be presented to a list of “who’s who” in Israel’s water industry at a conference which will take place at the Israeli Export Institute on February 7th, under the title: Water Challenges in Industry – Leveraging your Technology. Dr. Fortuna emphasizes that his motivation to hold the conference now is to create an open ongoing dialogue with Israeli water companies and get their feedback and guidance. “This will make our work more business oriented to the industry’s real needs and its abilities to implement.”

In parallel to the research, practical steps have begun to be taken to implement the initial learnings, and thus Israel NewTech and The Israel Export Institute have begun to create connections and mediate with the mining industry. An Israeli delegation visited Chile recently, where there is a large mining industry which is in need of technological solutions (click here for the post on this visit).

In addition, the three bodies responsible for the research project are working on identifying local partners in the different target countries, in order to facilitate the penetration of Israeli water companies to those industries which were mapped out in the research as needing innovative technologies. Likewise, in each sector a consultant with practical experience on the ground is employed. For example, for the pharmaceutical industry Meirav Avigdor, who manages the ecological department at TEVA, will provide consulting. The project begins with research, but will result in successful business implementation.

Article by Israel NewTech.

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