Aqwise, an Israeli group with branch offices and subsidiaries in Western Europe, South America and India and a commercial presence in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, described Paper Industry World the points of strength of its business paradigm.
by Roberto Carminati
Headquartered in Herzliya, Israel, Aqwise is a global provider of water and wastewater treatment solutions thanks to which it manages to serve both the municipal and industrial markets. The latter of these also include the pulp and paper production segment, whose plants typically display a significant amount of water consumption. The paper industry is today required to meet high levels of wastewater treatment in order to allow a safe discharge and reuse along its manufacturing processes. The company can therefore support customers with a number of applications, able to increase the Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and nutrient removal capacity in water. In addition, it can offer the market effective strategies and technologies to enhance the utilisation of already existing reactors or to run newly established plants. Aqwise’s solution portfolio builds upon the proprietary Agar (Attached Growth Airlift Reactor) technology, dubbed as «the next generation in biological treatment methods». It combines a unique fully open and fully protected biomass carrier with a highly efficient aeration and mixing design in various aerobic (Agar Mbbr; Agar Ifas) and anaerobic (Dacs, Dacs Dana) process configurations. And this results in a superior effective surface area for biomass growth and, furthermore, in an optimal oxygen transfer efficiency. «Our proprietary anaerobic technology (Dacs) which has already been installed in several pulp and paper manufacturing facilities worldwide», as CEO Elad Frenkel and Area sales manager Pier Antonio Ceresini told Paper Industry World», «enables the production of energy from waste water and it is much easier to operate if compared to other technologies».
Could you give us an idea of Aqwise’s strategies to succeed on the global markets?
«As a leading player in the Mbbr (Moving bed biological reactor) technology, Aqwise aims today to consolidate its positioning in the water and wastewater treatment sector. To achieve this goal, the company has defined a detailed roadmap. The first step is to constantly improve our Mbbr offer and to develop a series of dedicated cost-effective processes. Furthermore, we focus on expanding our activities in such countries as India, Europe and North America, and at the same time on enlarging our customer base in North America and China, for instance. Our target is to provide tailor-made solutions, both from a technical and financial point of view, with a direct approach to clients, thanks to our regional and local offices. It is in fact crucial to understand their needs and concerns, working in parallel with corporate global headquarters. We consider the specific knowledge of the industries we address as one of our most important sources of added value, especially in the pulp and paper business.»
What are your expectations for the next few years, in terms of business growth?
«Aqwise would undoubtedly like to increase its revenue by a double-digit figure every year, by implementing new and larger turnkey projects and by strengthening its relationship with tier-1 global clients and also by penetrating into unexplored markets. One of our very points of strength is the capability to address the issues both of the large corporate market and of small and medium-sized businesses. The key element, under this aspect, is represented by their will to adopt high-efficiency innovative technological solutions. We can ensure them a quick return on investments and personalized solutions to help them achieve their goals.»
Do you think the paper industry is likely to display a further growth in the future?
«The pulp and paper segment is among the continuous high-demand investment industries worldwide, although in some countries it has to be considered a mature market. Generally speaking, its overall performance is strongly linked to macroeconomic trends and this is the reason why some regions are moving at a relatively slow pace. What we do expect is a robust growth in waste water treatment investments, both from public and private companies, in order to obtain the best use-treatment-reuse virtuous cycle possible. Of course, we believe that companies should look at water as a precious resource we must respect and preserve.»
More precisely, what kind of solutions are you addressing the paper market with?
«As previously observed, Aqwise’s speciality is that to provide customers worldwide with tailor-made aerobic and anaerobic solutions, covering a variety of business-critical aspects, ranging from the extended process package up to full turnkey projects or even project financing. The group can manage to treat organic and non-organic process waste water load, combined with the need of closing the paper process water circuit to a balanced level, that will eventually satisfy the most specific needs of each paper grade production. This is due to the properties of our anaerobic technology (the so-called Dacs, Downflow anaerobic carrier system, based on the special Aqwise Biomass carriers) that has already and successfully been installed in several pulp and paper production facilities all around the world. This technology enables the production of energy from wastewater and has proven much easier to operate and manage than the most part of other common market technologies.»
What kind of solutions or services is Aqwise planning to implement and introduce in the short-medium term, in order to boost its business in the pulp and paper segment?
«On top of what we already offer, we are now willing to provide a wider offer of medium and long term financial services to the industry, together with onsite specialized treatment plant supervision services, performed by our specialized engineers. We are also striving to improve our portfolio of complementary processes: in our vision, these processes will allow wastewater recycling to become an alternative source of water for cooling towers, boilers and even process water. The continuous training of the paper mill waste water treatment plant dedicated personnel is one of the key points in Aqwise’s strategy, with the aim to gain a mutual knowledge growth that will end up in the best and efficient use of any applied, technology: our customers can benefit from this and help us achieve our business targets.»
Would you give us an overview of Agar technology’s most important prerogatives?
«The attached growth airlift reactor technology, Agar, is an Aqwise proprietary solution, developed in order to enable more effective Mbbr processes, with lower operational cost. As for its typical features, a remarkable aspects is that to allow companies to upgrade their already existing wastewater treatment plants without the need to install further reactors. Usually, Aqwise refers to the special carriers to which the biomass is attached as to the hardware part of its overall Moving bed biological reactor system. Therefore, according to this metaphor, we can say that the Aqwise carriers, that can rely on a large effective surface area as well as on a unique, open structure, represent a high-speed processor. This technological superiority results in several advantages on the end-user side, namely a more effective biodegradation, smaller reactors, lower aeration requirements. Of course, operational and capital costs are also significantly reduced by implementing this solutions. The Agar technology is nowadays quite well-known worldwide and continuously improved by our specialists at Aqwise’s robustly financed research and development department. The key of our constant company growth is the balanced application of the Agar technology under the specific industrial limitations which are typical to each individual industrial project.»
Which are the most important projects or operations that Aqwise carried out recently?
«Without directly mentioning any specific customer, we can say that Aqwise is mainly devoted to pharmaceutical and pulp & paper applications, on a global basis. Aqwise has more than 200 industrial applications in many different sectors, plus about 200 applications in municipal plants. we are now developing strategically to widen both the currently available biological portfolio of water treatment solutions, anaerobic Dacs and aerobic Mbbr, to all the organic load range and industry size, with the aim to achieve a satisfactory return on investments. A very important project was the Agra Water purification plant. This plant, equipped with Aqwise AGAR technology treats 160,000 m3/d of polluted river water and supplies safe drinking water to more than 2 million people. Over the last few years, our corporation has managed to supply a large number of wastewater treatment plants to several global players by the names of Coca Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, Teva and Perrigo, for example.»
As for your Water cycles and services portfolio, how will you manage to enhance them?
«Especially by looking at the fresh water use in paper mills, we are today implementing the development of the well-known Zero liquid discharge philosophy, by reducing its effective investment and operating cost with the goal to obtain an easier access to all those customers who are willing – or forced to – approach such an extreme concept. Aqwise knows that in the future this is going to emerge as one of the most important policies for all of the environmental protection authorities around the world. As for the on-site service offer, managed by our specialized team of engineers, the added value represented by the deep knowledge that Aqwise has of its customers’ production processes is vital. I would say that this is the very foundation of the indispensable mutual trust that we always strive to establish with most of our clients worldwide.»