Epiphany Solar Water Systems shifts focus to fracking
Tom Joseph is taking a detour to get to his dream of seeing his company's solar-powered water purification systems provide clean water for billions of thirsty people worldwide.
Last summer, Consol Energy Inc. invested $500,000 in Joseph's company, Epiphany Solar Water Systems Inc. in New Castle, to use its water purification systems to treat the toxic water that is a by-product of extracting natural gas from the Marcellus shale.
“Our involvement in the natural gas extraction is a temporary diversion,” Joseph said. “Our plan is to get this division up and running and going strong before we shift our efforts back to water desalinization.”
Epiphany's system uses an 8-foot diameter mirror to collect the sun's energy and heat impure water — such as salt water or fracking water — to a boil. The steam is captured so it can be distilled and solid materials separated.
When used to treat water for the hydraulic fracking process, a separate system known as a bioreactor is employed to capture highly toxic materials, Joseph said.Epiphany Solar was named the 2012 Innovator of the Year by the Pittsburgh Technology Council for its solar-powered water desalinization systems. Joseph received the 2012 Environmental Award from the Carnegie Science Center.
Since September, Consol has tested an Epiphany's system at a gas well in Greene County, Joseph said. He said data collected indicate the system is operating “right on the money.”
In addition to cutting the cost of treating fracking water from about 25 cents a gallon to 5 cents, the on-site system helps protect the environment by eliminating the danger of transporting contaminated water by truck to a disposal site.
The cleaned fracking water can be discharged into rivers or the ground, or reused in drilling operations. Recycling the water is in important in parts of the country such as Oklahoma and Texas, where water for drilling is scarce, Joseph said.
Joseph believes the experience his company will gain by removing toxic materials from water will make it easier to market the systems to countries that do not have adequate access to clean water.
“The fracking water is way dirtier than the sea water we treat to make it drinkable,” Joseph said. “So it will be easier to get potential customers to consider giving us a shot.”
Joseph estimates it will be two to five years before the company refocuses its attention on serving the estimated 2 billion people worldwide who do not have adequate access to clean water.
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’
- Range Resources reports $146M in Q3 profits on record Marcellus production
- Highmark’s new REMWorks Sleep Store will sell sleep apnea equipment
- Hedge funds sue to block EDMC deal
- CCAC, Energy Innovation Center respond to energy industry’s growing demand
- Profit falls at vitamin retailer GNC Holdings in third quarter
- Roundup: WesBanco to acquire ESB Financial for $324M; PNC to replace credit cards used during Home Depot breach; more
- Marcellus shale boom lifts Civil & Environmental Consultants of Robinson
- Consol looks to spin off some coal operations as separate firm
- Fed ends bond-buying program, keeps short-term rate near zero
- Investors jockey for higher rates as Fed sounds note of optimism on economy