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The cutting-edge, million-dollar wastewater research facility in Hayden is not the only one in the country. “We are the only one we know of at a working municipal wastewater treatment plant,” said Remy Newcombe, a 2003 engineering graduate of the University of Idaho.
Newcombe is an environmental engineer and geophysicist, cofounder and chief technology officer of Blue Water Technologies, Inc. She also is co-inventor of the patented Blue PRO technology Blue Water Technologies employs. She was part of a team of researchers – which included University of Idaho professor of food science and toxicology Greg Moller – that devised the technology, while Newcombe worked toward her doctorate in civil engineering. The University of Idaho technology was licensed to the company in 2003.
The Blue PRO filtration system uses sand coated with iron oxide as a filtering agent. The coated sand bonds with and separates phosphorus, arsenic and heavy metals from wastewater.
Too much phosphorus causes excessive algae growth that diminishes water quality, kills fish and compromises aquatic ecosystems. Blue PRO technology lowers phosphorus levels from 3,000 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb – a 99.7 percent reduction. In addition, the technology can meet the new drinking water maximum contaminant level for arsenic of 10 ppb.
The Hayden research facility accommodates both Blue Water Technologies research and University of Idaho research on advanced water treatment processes.
Not only has Blue Water Technologies honed the Blue PRO system to suit multiple venues, they also have expanded the applications of the technology to filter metals and newly emerging contaminants, including endocrine disrupting chemicals that mimic hormones and can harm the reproduction and development of organisms, including humans. “The research facility has allowed us to test new technologies for these other applications,” said Newcombe.
As the filtration system has evolved, so has business. Last September, Blue Water Technologies acquired a subsidiary, Applied Process Technology Inc., a Texas-based filter manufacturer. In the past four years they also have established a nationwide manufacturer’s representative network, and their Hayden staff has grown from four employees to 14. “We first started out working out of our homes,” said Newcombe. “Now we have 20,000 square feet of office and shop space for fabrication, assembly and inventory.”
“I think it’s vital to work toward sustainable solutions for our interaction with the environment, and we strive to increase the sustainability of our products,” said Newcombe. “We use very simple materials and try to minimize the waste production from our processes. It’s really based on sand and iron – simple, green materials.”