FEDCO CEO wins desalination innovation award

Eli Oklejas, the founder and CEO of pump maker FEDCO, has been awarded joint first place in the Miriam Balaban Innovation Award at the 2023 European Desalination Society (EDS) Congress in Limassol, Cyprus.

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The award, which is sponsored by ACWA Power, recognizes outstanding technological innovation in desalination.

Oklejas' submission showcased the groundbreaking BiTurbo brine-staged reverse osmosis.

The other joint winner was Carmelo Morgante from Italy’s University of Palermo, who presented an innovative approach to membrane fabrication to produce a positively charged nanofiltration (NF) membrane.

FEDCO’s BiTurbo uses commercially available equipment in a patented configuration to deliver optimal membrane performance and higher water production, without increasing the feed flow to a desalination system. The BiTurbo technology has been deployed in five installations to date in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Indonesia, for applications including brine mining, tourism and agriculture. This innovation brings down the cost and environmental impact of seawater desalination and has been used in pioneering brine mining applications in Saudi Arabia.

Oklejas, who founded FEDCO in 1997, said: "Receiving the Miriam Balaban Innovation Award is a special thrill for me and the entire FEDCO team given the gold standard of dedication and accomplishment set by Miriam Balaban herself in the desalination world. We believe that our submission – the BiTurbo RO technology – represents a crucial step forward for our industry in delivering sustainable, affordable water."

Meanwhile Morgante’s technology offers the potential for more targeted ion extraction, allowing more efficient and economical brine mining for elements such as magnesium.