Israeli ‘clean’ solution insures drinking water is disinfected

Atlantium’s solution keeps the light source out of the water, and has a unique way of manipulating the UV light, which results in high disinfection rates. Hurricanes and earthquakes have side effects that are felt long after buildings are rebuilt …

Atlantium’s solution keeps the light source out of the water, and has a unique way of manipulating the UV light, which results in high disinfection rates. Hurricanes and earthquakes have side effects that are felt long after buildings are rebuilt and lives return to normal – their results linger in the water.

For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, The United States Environmental Protection Agency is reporting high levels of hazardous bacteria in Louisiana’s water.

Israeli start-up Atlantium has developed an environmentally-friendly solution called the Rayo System which disinfects water without even touching it by making light bounce. Atlantium’s system can also provide protection against one of today’s major worries: bioterrorism in the water systems.

“The demand for water is growing all the time, our sources are depleting and we see our resources becoming contaminated,” says David Waxman, the CEO of Atlantium, which was established in 2003 and is based in Bet Shemesh. “We have a simple yet sophisticated solution, which is totally clean technology.”

Two of the minuscule nasty creatures that pollute our water are cryptosporidium parvum and giardia lamblia, parasites that can cause serious illness if ingested. Infection by these bugs are two of the most common causes of waterborne disease in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting rid of these and other bacteria or viruses from our water is not so simple, and disinfection can sometimes cause other problems.

Today, water is disinfected in various ways: using chemicals, which is far from ideal since it has by-products and also can leave residues in the water; ultrafiltration which uses tiny filters to clean the water but is extremely expensive; and using ultraviolet light, the best solution because it has no by-products. UV light doesn’t actually kill the bacteria or parasite, it alters their genetic material which means that they can’t reproduce, rendering them harmless to humans.

However, today’s UV disinfection systems often have the source of the UV light in the water itself, which is undesirable for several reasons: the mercury which is used to generate the UV light could be dangerous if it leaks, and also the light source may heat the water slightly, which causes deposits to form in the water.

Atlantium’s solution keeps the light source out of the water, and has a unique way of manipulating the UV light, which results in high disinfection rates.

The water flows through Atlantium’s specially-designed pipe, with the UV light source at one end behind a window made of quartz. The UV light is reflected through the window onto the water as it passes, without the need for the water flow to be stopped, and disinfects a certain amount of the water.

But it doesn’t stop there – Atlantium has developed a novel method to increase the amount of disinfection. The UV light that hasn’t been absorbed keeps moving down the pipe, also made of quartz, and, because of the design of the pipe and the lamp and the angles of reflection, it bounces off the sides of the pipe, disinfecting more of the water as it bounces for up to 150 centimeters from the light source.

This is what allows Atlantium to boast that where existing methods reduce the amount of bacteria by three orders of magnitude – i.e. if 1000 bacteria are present before disinfection, only 1 bacterium remains afterwards – Atlantium reduces the level by five orders of magnitude, from 100,000 bacteria to just one. The system’s sensors provide real time data on water quality, based on how well the UV light is being transmitted through the water.

Clean water is needed by many industries, not just for the water that comes out of your faucet. Atlantium began marketing its first product, the Rayo system, six months ago, and three units, which can be integrated with existing infrastructure, are already installed in Israel’s largest dairy, Tnuva, each disinfecting one hundred cubic meters of water per hour. Another Rayo system is installed in a fish farm in Turkey, helping to keep the fish disease-free.

The various Rayo models can disinfect from 50 cu m to 250 cu m per hour, and Atlantium is developing units with a larger capacity. A second lamp can be added for even stronger disinfection. As well as producing no by-products, the system uses very little electricity, the equivalent of “a small air conditioner,” Waxman told ISRAEL21c.

Atlantium’s system can also provide protection against one of today’s major worries: bioterrorism in the water systems. “[Rayo] can be a sort of firewall, it can play a major role. If you suspect biological contamination [with bacteria or viruses], you can install this machine and you can be assured that this will handle the contamination,” says Waxman.

Since 2003, Atlantium has received $10 million in funding from various investors, the main one being Morris Kahn, the Israeli founder of telecommunications software company Amdocs and ranked by Forbes as one of the world’s richest people.

“He is investing in green technologies,” says Waxman, who is now looking to raise a further $12 million from new and existing investors to finance the company’s expansion.

In the six months since Atlantium launched Rayo, marketing efforts have been focusing on Europe, but at the beginning of next year the company will be demonstrating the system’s efficiency in the US in order to get the validation necessarily for use by the municipalities for cleaning drinking water.

Atlantium is already attracting interest. At the recent DrinkTec 2005 beverage and liquid technology fair in Germany in September, Atlantium was the focus of a great deal of attention from breweries and soft drink manufacturers, for whom clean water is clearly essential.

“They would like to stop using chemicals,” says Waxman, who is already in talks with various big names in the beverage industry, and hopes to be able to announce new contracts soon. “They want a reliable source of disinfection that is more green, and by having less chemicals they improve the taste and the shelf life of their products. They cannot do it with other methods.”