The shutting off of the Buckman Direct Diversion on July 15 after ash from the Las Conchas fire passed through the Rio Grande puts its treatment system in question, but an Albuquerque water treatment company’s desalination process could provide an answer.
“We copy mother nature,” Altela CEO Ned Godshall tells SFR.
He’s referring to the way ocean water evaporates into the atmosphere, then distills as it falls as rain. In Altela’s desalination process, boiled water turns to steam, which rises to the top of a plastic container. Then cold air from a fan blows at the top, turning the steam back into water while filtering it, much the way mountain weather systems do.
Most water-filtration systems use pressure vessels made of metal, but pressure “chews up the metal” and also requires a pump, which uses more electricity than Altela’s process, Godshall says.
“Every engineer and scientist who comes in says, ‘Why didn’t someone think of this before?’” he says.
Still, Godshall is modest about determining whether his process is best for cleaning up ash-filled water.
“There might be a better, less expensive way,” he says, suggesting reverse osmosis, which filters some chemicals while letting others pass through.