ECO-TEC: FIGHTING POLLUTION, CREATING JOBS AND PROSPERITY

ROCKY SIMMONS, alumnus, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

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THE PROBLEM

Global society depends on industry. To have what we have come to want and need—from air travel to cars to medical devices to house construction to milk— we need industry. The problem is that industry needs to use chemicals that can, without the right practices, pollute the air, land and water.

THE INNOVATION

In the late 1960s, Rocky Simmons was a new graduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at U of T. He was fortunate to study, under Professor Irving Spinner, an innovative ion exchange process invented by Professor Robert Hunter. That process was destined to solve serious global environmental issues.

THE APPROACH

Simmons joined a manufacturing company—Wix—and was able to bring Spinner, Hunter and Wix together to create Eco-Tec. The company combined highly skilled engineers and manufacturing capability to exploit this new technology, thus saving natural resources, eliminating serious pollution issues and making industrial processes more efficient and viable.

Eco-Tec has, for example, developed world-leading products to purify produced water from oil wells for reuse. Other applications are in oil and gas refineries, metal finishing, pulp and paper, and high purity water, all geared to sustainability development.

THE IMPACT

Eco-Tec technology enables industries to make their products in an environmentally sustainable manner. The company is also making an economic impact. Eco-Tec has 100 employees (many of them U of T alumni) at its Pickering, Ontario, headquarters and supplies more than 2,000 systems in 60 countries.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Eco-Tec’s next steps are focussing on moving the company to new levels of sales and capacity, based on innovative, sustainable solutions for large-scale operations.

“It’s in our blood to be innovative. We were able to take research from U of T and create a successful Canadian company that is a leader in its field around the world. That continues to inspire me.” and how they are saying it.”

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