2013 Winner: Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Technology And Innovation sponsored by Agrium Inc.
Indigenous-led Technology Company Makes Waves In Water Management Industry
Mr. Jerry Hanna likes to tell the story of how his company, Clearflow Enviro Systems Group was shortlisted for a major contract, bidding against two of the world’s largest chemical supply companies.
“Our client sent all three companies’ products to a third-party laboratory for trial,” he recounts. “And Clearflow’s products beat out the other two.”
Mr. Hanna is rightly proud of his small Alberta technology company that he founded and leads. Based in Sherwood Park, Clearflow has 15 employees, and it’s making waves in the water management industry locally, nationally and internationally.
The Critical Technology
Since its inception in 2005, Clearflow has developed and distributed technology that rapidly and safely separates solids from the water column, pulling pollutants, metals and toxic material from water. The finished product isn’t potable, but its environmental impact is dramatically reduced. In many cases, the water is recycled, reducing the unnecessary use of potable or natural water supplies.
Mr. Hanna is the inventor of the Clearflow Lynx line of products and the Clearflow Patented Systems for water treatment for which he holds national and international patents. He also has five patents pending.
Several components in the system work to clean water before it is treated to reduce the type and concentration of solids, chemicals and other contaminants required for treatment. Mr. Hanna refers the Clearflow approach to water treatment as holistic.
“In short, we have cleaner water to clean if we reduce soil erosion and contaminants such as metals, fertilizers, hydrocarbons, salts and other nasty stuff that the sediment carries into receiving waters,” he explains.
The technology tackles tough problems like sewage wastewater, industrial effluent and tailing ponds, helping clients to meet regulatory environmental standards and reduce their environmental footprint.
“Our products have saved our clients millions of dollars every year in operational inefficiencies or by not having to pay regulatory fines or deal with the threat of closure,” Mr. Hanna says.
Mr. Hanna started out in the water and soil industry in 1976 working for the family construction business. He retired after a successful career in the corporate world. But the restless entrepreneur came out of retirement to start Clearflow in response to tighter environmental regulations and the drive to find more sustainable ways to treat water.
He performed his initial experiments in his basement, which he converted into a lab, before he received funding from the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program to develop the technology. And the University of Alberta’s Dr. Greg Goss agreed to test the products for safety and environmental standards and to compare them to competitive products.
“Our products proved to be the safest and the most environmentally preferable,” Mr. Hanna says. And the company’s innovative technology is changing best practices in wetland and land development and storm water and mining surface water management. Clearflow’s reach extends globally with its projects in the Middle East, India, Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.
“The world and the environment are safer places where Clearflow is working,” he says. “And that’s how we want to the business to proceed.”