Environmental Protection

Laredo Breaks Ground on Brackish Water Purification Plant

Terrabon, Inc., joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry and City of Laredo, Texas officials at City Hall recently to announce the benefits of a groundbreaking water treatment project that will purify 50,000 gallons per day of brackish water for potable use in Laredo’s water supply system.

The city’s Santa Isabel Water Treatment Plant will use Terrabon’s AdVE technology developed in partnership with Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), a member of the Texas A&M University System. The AdVE process will remove impurities using advanced vapor compression evaporation to produce drinkable water for Laredo. The project also will demonstrate the commercial viability of the desalination technology that also reduces the capital and operating costs of water purification. The pilot plant is being designed in cooperation with American Water's Applied Management Group, which also will provide operating support.

“The development of this pilot project is one step in securing and providing water in the future, not only for Laredo, but for the entire state of Texas,” said Laredo City Council Member Gene Belmares.

Perry also awarded $2.75 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) to Terrabon for its work in biofuel technology development.

“As our population grows by about 1,000 people a day, we must take steps to ensure our energy supply keeps up with increasing demand,” Perry said. “Now is the time to tackle that challenge, and we’re using the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and this investment in Terrabon’s biofuels technology as a key tool in that effort.”

The company has produced high-octane “green” gasoline from non-food biomass at its demonstration facility in Bryan, Texas. Developed again in partnership with TEES, Terrabon’s MixAlco™ is an advanced bio-refining technology that converts low-cost, readily available, non-food, non-sterile biomass into valuable chemicals such as acetic acid, ketones and alcohols that can be processed into renewable gasoline fuels. The biomass used as feedstock includes municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, forest product residues such as wood chips, wood molasses and other wood waste, and non-edible energy crops such as sweet sorghum.

After it has built the first few commercial plants, the company intends to license and joint venture this technology with industrial partners and others who play a major role in biomass collection or in transportation. Waste Management and Valero Energy Corporation are also key investors in Terrabon's efforts to help deploy the company's technologies on a commercial scale.

Terrabon plans to use the TETF investment to:

  • conduct testing to optimize certain processes included in its biofuel technology;
  • expand its joint research arrangement with the Texas A&M System; and
  • extend the build-out of its demonstration facility in Bryan to facilitate processing of municipal solod waste and other feed stocks into “green” gasoline and other biofuels.

“We are proud to be part of Laredo’s efforts to apply new, innovative technologies that now offer the city a viable option for a future secondary water source. This water treatment project and the investment by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund will play an integral role both in confirming the potential of our technologies and in expediting our plans for commercial deployment,” said Terrabon Chief Executive Officer Gary Luce.

Terrabon, Inc. was formed in 1995 to commercialize three technologies developed by the Texas Engineering Experiment Station. The third technology, SoluPro, is a bio-products process that converts inexpensive protein-bearing waste material into animal feed and "green" commercial adhesives.

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