We were talking around the office a couple of days ago about so called disruptive technologies. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were masters at this. A disruptive technology is something that simplifies an existing technology and then out competes in the market. The i-phone and i-pad are great examples. The i-phone swarmed the cell phone market with the added plus of a convenient camera and other features. The personal computer came in to make computing available without a mainframe and remote access at a terminal. These inventions totally disrupted the normal way of conducting our personal and professional lives.
Blue Future Filters started in 2003 on work by myself dating back to the early 90s. My concept was clear. The wonderful technology responsible for saving so many lives- slow sand filtration, was practiced by large engineering firms for communities and cities through large scale construction projects costing millions of dollars. I came from a different background, more consumer and distribution oriented and thought if we could turn this from a custom engineered big project focus to a manufatured approach, we could standardize, bring costs way down, and enter a potential market.
Over the years we developed a series of standard models that complied with regulations for drinking water. By combining standard inexpensive models, we changed the scale of the projects. Suddenly a project manager didn't have to plan for a 50 year life with all the expense that entails. They could look at a few years knowing they could easily add on and expand as the need arose.
In this way, Blue Future, is continuing to disrupt the standard way of approaching treating surface water for safety for individuals and communities worldwide. We are bringing to market an old established technology in new skin creating a disruptive technology to the benefit of the world.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Sunday, February 15, 2015
I will be traveling to Eugene, Oregon around March 9th-11 to teach a slow sand filter roughing filter session at the American Water Works Association Short School for operators. I'll probably travel down to northern California also. If you are in the vicinity and want to get together to talk about treatment options or arrange a site visit, let me know.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
For context, some months ago I posted a blog post concerning how to select technologies in which I stated that there are fundamental requirements for any technology anywhere to be sustainable. These rules are summarized in the following graphic:
But it looks like they are thinking of this for developing country use. In this context it is a big negative. It will cease working when parts break, chemicals are not readily available, power fails, the technical expertise is not around, or the financial assets are not reliably available.
OK, so it quits working. So what. Probably financed by some sort of grants or loans from the North, No big deal...... Except for the end users.
If we are going to propose technologies that save lives and make lives better, it is a responsibility to make sure that we are proposing things that will work and be sustainable.
I have been a sad witness to many grand ideas originating in northern labs and think tanks in developing countries that looked great, but failed. When they fail, the people affected lose confidence in other proposals. Just last year, I was conversing with project directors for a drinking water project in India. We had come up with a solid, sustainable, appropriate solution using rainwater catchment and treatment. But, there was considerable resistance in the community. Why? Because previously, the same NGO had installed a high tech system that failed almost immediately, irreparably.
Gate's foundation is doing amazing work all over the world to reduce poverty and help give people a chance to live better. On this one, they are missing the mark.
In our zeal to save the world, we need to be thoughtful about what we propose and the long term effects of our work.