Dr. Marcin Malicki is Innovation and Technology Director at New Energy Transfer and an Expert with the Solar Impulse Foundation. In this article, he shares his reflections on developing a clean and profitable solution, receiving the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label and assessing solutions as an Expert.
Prompt deployment of innovative and fully sustainable technologies is the only possibility of ensuring that next generations will be able to thrive in an environmentally diversified, inclusive and safe world. My experience in the field of research, development and evaluation of innovative energy technologies, obtained in various national and international, private and public institutions enabled me to be an Expert with the Solar Impulse Foundation.
I became an Expert because I wanted to contribute to reaching the target of 1000 Solutions as soon as possible and prove that clean and profitable solutions already exist today. The evaluation and development of various innovative technologies in the field of energy through my day job enabled me to contribute to selecting the best and the most innovative solutions having the highest impact on the decarbonization of the economy, to bridge a gap between today and the net-zero emission environment of the future.
My role at New Energy Transfer involves the management of various technical innovations with their necessary development and Intellectual Property Rights securitization. Such innovations include technologies in the area of energy and water, from improving energy efficiency of conventional power blocks, to multigeneration energy sources capable of simultaneously producing electricity, heating cooling and desalinated water, large highly efficient heating and cooling systems, to various highly efficient water installation systems able to be deployed and operated off-grid.
Challenges and opportunities in developing a labelled Solution
Solution development is always a journey for the whole company at New Energy Transfer. We specialize in defining specific challenges to enable the delivery of solid, proven, energy efficient and of course, profitable, solutions. This involves all levels of the company, from management, through research, to sales: it is vital to be able to fully respond to clients’ needs.
Our Micro Nano Bubble Flotation MNBF® solution was no different. Our client needed a highly energy efficient solution, capable of being promptly deployed and installed off-grid for wastewater treatment. At the same time, the client needed a solution which would not put a lot of strain on CAPEX. This was certainly a challenge as wastewater treatment technologies available on the market are used and improved since decades and mostly stationary, needing vast areas of land. Therefore, this challenge needed more of a ‘groundbreaking’ than ‘incremental’ innovation. Our team started with defining what would be ‘state-of-the-art’ in all key parts of the process, combining them into a solution and selecting the most promising areas of improvement. For this, the aeration process was selected as the most energy-consuming one. To push the border of aeration efficiency, we had to develop a dedicated technology and following equipment resulting in the redesign of key components.
At the end of the day, we managed to deliver a solution to fit all the client’s needs: a first of its kind installation using not only off-the-shelf but also tailor-made technology resulting from an R&D program collaboration. Based on our team’s experience, we used state-of-the-art technologies which when combined gave good results. But we knew further improvements to the environmental performance could be made. Therefore, we identified the process with the highest energy consumption (and thus highest costs, too) and modified it based on in-house research and collaboration with a university. This resulted in the technology delivering excellent environmental and economic results, and two patents for key components. We are always proceeding in such a way to continuously improve the state-of-the-art.
Being an Expert with the Solar Impulse Foundation gave me an insight into the process of assessing solutions as well as awarding the Label. It is not an easy task to develop a solution being able to be both sustainable and profitable, and putting one of our own solutions developed in-house forward for evaluation was a challenge of its own. After thorough assessment, we were delighted to receive the news that MNBF® had been awarded the Efficient Solution Label. We were very grateful for the remarks and comments from the three Experts who assess our solution.
Next steps for scaling clean and profitable Solutions
Solutions like our MNBF® prove that sustainable and profitable alternatives already exist today. However, all too often they still struggle to get the appropriate level of visibility, hence are not as often applied as of-the-shelf technologies. We hope that by obtaining distinction through the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label, our solution will be recognized in and deployed on a significantly wider market. Up until now we have had a good customer base, but we are now seeking to reach for new markets as suggested by Experts who evaluated our solution. For example, the market for water polluted with chemicals by various industries is very promising. The use of dedicated in-house generators enables the application of dedicated gas mixtures for the aeration process, decreasing chemical use and increasing the quality of wastewater.
I’m excited that the Solar Impulse Foundation has now reached its initial target of finding and labelling 1000 Solutions which enable the transition to a clean and profitable future. When I joined the Expert Community, the goal seemed to be very far away. It also has been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Foundation and my fellow Experts have identified, evaluated, labeled and supported numerous technologies impacting our future. I’m very happy that I had an opportunity to help almost 40 solutions to gain visibility and achieve confirmation of their technological advancement and significant impact on sustainable development. I’m glad that there is a place where such solutions can be quantified and easily searchable. As we move beyond 1000 Solutions, the journey is just beginning.