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Water Filtration Startup Holds Key to Water Scarcity Crisis

Andhika Y. Wiguna

Water is precious. With only 3% of all of Earth’s water deemed potable and considerably less that is easily accessible, it is an incredibly valuable resource. On top of that, an estimated 2.7 billion people do not have access to fresh water at least one month a year, and more than a third of those people have no access at all. As it stands, many of the water systems that allow access to clean drinking water are under immense stress. Given pollution rates, a changing climate, and less efficient agricultural practices, more than two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to face water shortages by 2025. Sadly, by 2030, the demand for clean water is expected to outstrip the supply by more than 40%. 

Despite the troublesome forecast, Mississippi-based startup Glanris has developed a water filtration system that could help reverse the tides on the worldwide water scarcity crisis. In what has been dubbed the “first green, hybrid water filtration media,” Glanris makes use of the world’s largest agricultural waste product: rice hulls. With 218 billion pounds of rice hulls discarded every year, Glanris will have no shortage of resources for its sustainable filters.

“This is the thing that ultimately got me most excited about it,” says Glanris CEO Bryan Eagle. ”Today, most rice hulls worldwide are burned, so if we can stop burning hulls and turn it into a water filtration media, not only do you stop billions of pounds of greenhouse gases from being produced every year, but you’re sequestering carbon for the next 10,000 years.”

Dried-up Creek Bed // Photo Courtesy Matt Palmer

In addition to the organic and sustainable resources used in making the filters, this eco-friendly filtration system is more efficient and more cost-effective than traditional filtration methods. Given the hybrid approach, Glanris technology can do with one filter, what ordinarily would require many. The Glanris filter also boasts a better removal rate for organic matter and dissolved metals than activated carbon and ion exchange resins, respectively.

Not only are they more effective than traditional filtration methods, but they are also more economical. While most water filtration systems usually require four filters to reach even “inferior results” the Glanris filtration system can purify water to near-drinkable standards with only two, making it incredibly resource-efficient. Eagle summarizes the system’s groundbreaking efficacy, saying, “We’re up to 20% more effective at filtration, in 1/3 of the time, and at 1/10th of the cost. So, better, faster, cheaper.”

With a system this economical and efficient, the Glanris filter is looking at a market potential that spans the entire globe. They have already begun introducing their filters to the US industrial market and have interest internationally from utilities in India, UK, France, and the Netherlands. However, Glanris leadership is already setting their sights on the global water scarcity crisis. “A way to address water scarcity is to get better at reusing the water we’re already using and we’re going to have to be desalinating more sea water. In order to do both of those you need low-cost, sustainable, green filtration products,” says Eagle. 

With their technology, globally sustainable water filtration and an answer to the worldwide water scarcity crisis is well within reach. It is only a matter of time before this water sanitation innovation becomes a global solution.

Photo Courtesy Nathan Dumlao