It’s been a remarkable journey for MANTECH, an Ontario-based manufacturer of water testing technology. From a very humble start in 2010, its revolutionary technology is now being used in water-testing laboratories and industrial and water plants in 45 countries, as 75% of the company’s sales now come from exports.
Behind this Ontario success story is a proprietary water quality monitoring system that is helping global companies cut costs and protect workers and the environment while saving energy during water and waste water treatment processes.
MANTECH is a thriving water technology company based in Guelph, and is well-positioned to benefit from a global push to protect water from industrial pollution, making it safer for the environment. MANTECH’s mission is to deliver green and sustainable monitoring solutions that protect the environment and add to the triple bottom line.
“The opportunity is significant and important. In our current environment, sustainability is not an option, it is an obligation,” says Robert Menegotto, President and Chief Executive Officer of MANTECH in an interview at his 13,000 square-feet facility in Guelph. In the background, members of his team are analyzing real-time chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) data coming from various water and waste water treatment facilities from around the world, as a part of both sales and strategic development collaborations. Before MANTECH’s PeCOD, real-time COD data was not possible.
MANTECH’s unique nanotechnology-based approach to COD analysis overcomes many of the problems encountered by existing methods, with the potential to make it the new global standard for COD analysis in laboratories, municipal wastewater and water treatment plants and industrial production facilities. “We have eliminated dichromate, mercury, acid and high temperature heating from the current COD method,” says Menegotto. “We have made it a 15min test rather than a 3 hour or 5 day-test and we offer a green chemistry method. What’s more, we have now provided COD testing to field and on-line environments. It’s no longer limited to the laboratory – everyone wins!”
MANTECH’s success is a great example of how Ontario’s unique ecosystem for research and innovation is helping entrepreneurs to test and market their products on a global scale.
During its early days of product development, the Ontario Clean Water Agency, or “OCWA,” provided MANTECH an opportunity to test its PeCOD® COD analyzer at the Clarkson Wastewater Treatment Facility in the Region of Peel in Ontario. OCWA has now decided to invest in multiple on-line PeCOD units and initiate new projects that test the additional values of the fast PeCOD test. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s validation of PeCOD, and publication of Method E3515 (“The Determination of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) in Water by Photo Electrochemistry”) also positioned MANTECH to commercialize its innovative real time COD Analyzer with the capability to also measure fast BOD and replace the difficult to use Total Organic Carbon (TOC) Method.
MANTECH has also worked closely with the Water Technology Acceleration Project (WaterTAP), a not-for-profit organization created as part of Ontario’s Water Opportunities Act to support water technology companies in scaling their business. Through its global network, WaterTAP helped make connections for MANTECH that led to a successful EUREKA ACQUEAU-labelled project to reduce recalcitrant in pulp and paper mills. MANTECH has also made use of WaterTAP’s short-term embedded executive program, and participates regularly in WaterTAP’s events and programming.
Supported by the skilled workforce in Ontario and the government incentive for R&D, the MANTECH PeCOD technology is benefiting industries where existing methods are not safe and consuming plenty of time and energy. Thus far, the company has begun to scale up sales in the pulp and paper industry, breweries, municipal waste water plants and drinking water utilities.
MANTECH’s PeCOD enables its customers to protect the environment while capturing enormous savings
One of the biggest breakthroughs for MANTECH’s online PeCOD analyzer has come from a new project in Finland where the company has been working with the pulp and paper industry to help reduce COD in their mills. The initiative will help identify COD sources, improve treatment technologies, and optimize effluent flows. In the end, PeCOD is supporting climate change initiatives since water intensive industries, such as Pulp and Paper, have COD reduction targets to be fully realized by 2030. The PeCOD on-line solutions are already communicating real time data with automated alerts through IoT technology. Coupled with laboratory and portable PeCOD Systems, MANTECH delivers the entire COD measurement cycle, all utilizing the identical COD method.
On this project, MANTECH has partnered with Helsinki-based chemical company Kemira, which is serving customers in water-intensive industries, focusing on pulp and paper, oil and gas, mining and water treatment.
“Kemira did not want to be on the mill site all the time, they wanted effective monitoring with IoT connectivity,” says Mr. Menegotto, “and that’s how we got our analyzer connected to their system.”
The key for the PeCOD technology is that it is empirical, the PeCOD tool is not fine-tuned or calibrated to a specific water matrix as other surrogate technologies are, PeCOD results stand on their own and you can trust them from one site to the next. Simply get in your car, go to the site and measure. We have also eliminated the need for these Kemira technical support representatives to drive with dangerous chemicals in their cars.
Thousands of miles away from Finland, MANTECH’s PeCOD analyzer is also helping Arauco, a Chilean multi-national paper company, to improve the health and safety of its operators and to significantly reduce the COD analysis time.
By continuously monitoring COD levels, an Arauco paper mill optimized its pulp process and cut the consumption of bleaching chemicals. The decrease in chemical consumption resulted in a lower amount of organics to treat, and in turn, reduced waste water treatment chemicals and energy usage. This has saved the Arauco paper mill an estimated $3 million per year easily justifying the investment of additional PeCOD units with an ROI of a mere 6 days!
Drinking water offers MANTECH big opportunity for growth
The next big challenge for MANTECH is to penetrate the drinking water market, where the company believes its technology offers a unique value preposition when compared to traditional water-quality test parameters such as TOC, UV254 and Specific Ultra Violet Absorption (SUVA).
With funding from Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC), MANTECH and researchers from the University of Toronto are pilot testing the new technology at the City of Peterborough Waste Water Treatment Plant. With NSERC funding, MANTECH is also collaborating with Dalhousie University where they have 3 PeCOD units including an on-line system running full scale at Halifax Water.
“We believe the drinking water segment is the single biggest opportunity for our PeCOD products,” Mr. Menegotto says. “For drinking water, we can move much faster because we can get regulatory approval sooner. There is no PeCOD parameter for drinking water, and the PeCOD parameter has already been mentioned in two different drinking water treatment articles.” Water utilities in some of the biggest U.S. cities, including Arizona, New York, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Colorado have already started to test the PeCOD technology. Some have already invested and are benefitting from the improved sensitivity and increased measurement range compared with traditional technologies. In the end, PeCOD gives water treatment operators the most clear indication of an event that must be acted upon. As one of our customers said, “PeCOD provides the operator with turn the dial information, with full confidence that an action needs to be taken”, says Mr. Menegotto