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Watter: Sustainable alternative to toxic chemical disinfectants

Erwin Hofman's picture

Watter contributes to environmental protection by offering a sustainable alternative to the existing, toxic disinfectants. Its 'Nontox' disinfectant product is biodegradable, which benefits the environment, animals, and food quality, and therefore it ultimately benefits society. In addition, the 'on site' production of Nontox means that transport and packaging materials are reduced to a minimum. This provides a contribution to CO2 emissions reduction.

Watter is a technology company that solves a hygiene problem. The Watter system produces the disinfectant 'Nontox', which helps to avoid the deposition of toxic chemical residues in the environment. As Watter can effectively prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases, fewer antibiotics are needed for controlling such diseases afterwards, and therefore the growing issue of antibiotic resistance can be counteracted. Nontox is also much safer than chemical disinfectants, because it is – as the name implies – non-toxic. Apart from the benefits for the environment, humans, and animals, Watter is also a cost-saving solution.

An important aspect of Watter's solution is its use of a huge amount of data. For example, by means of tests and water samples, hygiene problems are made visible. Subsequently, after implementation of the Watter system, the same tests can show Watter's added value.

The technology

The patented Watter technology is a method whereby a powerful disinfectant (Nontox) is produced 'on site', with just two basic ingredients: water and salt. Both research and practice have shown that Nontox is much more effective than other disinfectants, such as formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, etc.

The Watter-system has undergone extensive testing at renowned, independent institutions like TNO, in order then to be subject to its most important test: that of its use in practice. The fully automatic Watter system meets the highest quality standards and meets the high expectations its customers have.

The Watter system has been designed as an efficient stand-alone-system. It is provided with a unique, worldwide patented reactor and is able to ensure quality during the production process by continuous monitoring on several parameters. As a result, the high Nontox quality is always guaranteed.

The results of Watter

Unique features of the Watter system include that it is universally available (at any location where water and electricity are available) and that it is sustainable (safe for people and the environment). Nontox from the Watter system can be used in different sectors, for example in agriculture and in hospitals. Out of water, the disinfectant is made, which oxidises bacteria, fungi and viruses. This can be applied to vegetables, flower bulbs, medical instruments, water, etc.

The long-term target for for Watter is wide deployment of the system; for example in nursing homes, hospitals, agricultural companies, etc. The goal for 2017 is that 20% of the agricultural sector and 30% of flower bulb companies use the Watter system, and that it is accepted in the medical sector. Now already (early-2016), there are Watter systems operational in nine countries.

Challenges

It takes quite a lot of effort to convince sectors to use the Watter system. People are accustomed to the use of conventional disinfectants ("we have always done it like this") and are reluctant to move to the Watter system. Although switching to Watter is simple, cost-effective, and better for the environment, a 'mental challenge' remains. Even if the reports prepared by TNO and the like show that the Watter system works, people keep wondering: isn't it "too good to be true"? It is then important to create confidence, amonst others through practical examples.

The high level of effort needed to convince companies to switch to the Watter system is also due to the strong lobby by the established companies, that produce chemical disinfectants. These companies see that (sustainable) startup businesses, such as Watter, make their own business more difficult.

Further details

Capital costs description: 
The Watter-system can be purchased through a lease construction. Already half of the purchases of the system go through a lease, for which the price starts at € 350 per month. Watter thinks it this may be reduced to € 250 per month over the next few years
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium to low capital intensive investment (i.e. €3,000 -€10,000)
Cost savings description: 
In the flower bulb sector it has been the experience that the investment can be recouped within a year. In addition to saving on chemicals, there are savings on logistics costs, and on environmental taxes.
Operating and maintenance costs description: 
Because for the production of Nontox only water, salt, and electricity is needed, the production costs for 1000 litres of disinfectant is only € 6. As Nontox does not produce chemical waste, there are no waste processing fees.
Emission reductions description: 
CO2 emission reduction takes place, e.g. because no transport of chemical disinfectants and residues is needed.
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Water consumption savings description: 
Some customers of Watter use recycled water, which makes that the Watter sytem also results in water consumption savings.
Material consumption savings description: 
Less packaging materials because Nontox is produced on-site.
Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

The Dutch government is generally open for innovations. A lot of time and scientific research is needed to obtain certain exemptions on regulation, but usually then we succeed in this. It is good that more and more national regulations are being replaced by European regulations, so international business is made easier.