Innovative Treatment Finds a Home

July 28, 2018

Sarnia, ON - Innovative Treatment Finds a Home

Forward Water Technologies' Pilot Plant Located at Research Park

A young Ontario company is piloting innovative industrial wastewater treatment technology at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park.

Forward Water Technologies has two employees and a micro-pilot unit in place at the research park in Sarnia to carry out pre-commercial scale-up of forward osmosis technology that originated at Queen's University.

Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, a government-funded agency based at the research park, announced in May it invested in Forward Water Technologies to help its technology get to market.

The research park, which is owned by Lambton County, rents out offices, as well as labs and a pilot plant space, to new companies developing innovative technology.

“Our investment in Forward Water Technologies reinforces our mission of investing in Ontario companies with novel technologies what contribute to a clean, green and sustainable future,” Sandy Marshall, executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, said in a news release.

The process being developed by Forward Water Technologies originated from the lab of Prof. Philip Jessop at Kingston's Queen's University and was further developed by GreenCentre Canada before it was launched in 2012 as a spin-off company.

With funding from Alberta Innovates and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the company is planning to set up a commercial-scale field trial near Calgary in 2019.

Forward Water Technologies is using the Sarnia-based pilot unit to model its process, gather data and potentially train operators ahead of the field tests.

C. Howie Honeyman, CEO of Forward Water Technologies, said its potential customers are industries producing wastewater with very high total dissolved salts and minerals.

Current disposal options include boiling wastewater “to dryness or to small volumes using intense amounts of thermal energy” but that comes with a “huge cost” and “a greenhouse gas implication,” he said.

The second common method is trucking wastewater to disposal wells in the U.S.

“That is expensive, time consuming and fairly inefficient,” Honeyman said. “That water is sent down a disposal well, never to come back again, so you're really taking a resource and putting it underground forever.”

Forward Water Technologies says its process creates fresh water that can be released on the surface or reused by industry.

“We intend to provide a more efficient, less-expensive and sustainable process for the industries that we want to serve,” Honeyman said.

He said water treatment and other clean-tech technologies are capital intensive, requiring large pieces of equipment, proper operating licences and support facilities.

“These are really hard-to-find places for an emerging technology,” he said. “The research park has really been an enabling feature for us.”

Forward Water Technologies currently has an office in the Toronto area and lab space in Kingston, along with its pilot unit in Sarnia.

Honeyman said locating the field trial in Alberta is a requirement of funding the company received but added it's also looking for opportunities in the Sarnia area.

“If we can develop the Alberta project in parallel with a project in the Chemical Valley, we're quite happy to do so,” he said. “We're always looking for opportunities, we're always looking for connections and we're always looking for interested parties.”

Additional information about the company and its technology can be found on its website,

- Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer