IBM Wades Into Water Management


photo by Axel Rouvin via Flickr CC

Well, just as Google didn't want to get left behind when it comes to the smart grid, IBM doesn't want to get left behind when it comes to water management. We knew the company is paying attention to water issues, considering a representative was on the water crisis panel at the Cleantech conference, but now they're announcing some big news that shows they're diving right in. Read on to find out what technologies IBM is unveiling to help with water woes. IBM has announced that it is unveiling its first smart water services and technologies, as well as a scientific breakthrough in water purification.

First, the services. Basically, IBM feels that just as we can smarten up energy via tools like the smart grid, so can we smarten up our water use - a lot. The company is launching strategic water management solutions that include analysis of natural water resources, tools that help water utilities make water efficiency decisions, sensor systems for water infrastructure such as levee oversight, improved water metering, and a business consulting service that helps measure and monitor a company's water use and create improvements, pilot projects of which has shown as much as a 30% reduction in water use.

Now, the breakthrough information. IBM is announcing an energy efficient membrane that filters out salts toxins such as arsenic. Scientists at IBM Research combined efforts with Central Glass, KACST and the University of Texas, Austin to come up with the new material:

The new membrane uses a unique chemistry that creates a "water super-highway" that filters water...more efficiently than previous filters. When contaminated water is forced through the membrane, salts and a number of toxins are filtered out and only pure drinking water flows through to the other side. Additionally, the membrane is also potentially resistant to chlorine damage.

"As clean water becomes more scarce and disease from impure water impacts more of the world's population, the race to find efficient methods to purify this important resource is at a critical juncture," said Bob Allen, manager of the water purification project at the IBM Almaden Research Center. "The kind of research we're doing, and the promising results we're seeing, stand to create a whole new paradigm for how we manage natural resources such as water."

More on this will be available next week - keep your eye on their research page if you want to get more info as it comes online.

IBM is taking water really seriously as part of their business profile, as they well should. With droughts, flooding, and an impending shortage of drinkable water world-wide, everyone has water on the brain. Getting a jump start now on appropriate technology is a great sign that we will hopefully be more prepared in the near future to face the issue.

At the Cleantech Forum, IBM also tossed out a few ideas for inventors to get cracking on - so if you're interested in thinking up the next big thing in water, check out these starter ideas

Via Press Release

More on the Water Crisis
Clean Tech Forum 2009: Experts Discuss the Impending Water Crisis (Video)
Los Angeles Doubles Fines for Water Wasters
Oasys Water Gets Major Funding for New Desalination Technology
Flow The Film Opening in September

Tags: Drinking Water | Product Service Systems | Water Conservation