After two rounds of financing that raised more than $1 million, 2008 winner Saltworks Technology has begun commercializing its innovative saltwater desalination technology into global markets.

CEO Ben Sparrow says the firm’s Thermo-Ionic™ energy-conversion system is more energy-efficient than other leading desalination technologies because it uses up to 80 per cent less electrical/mechanical energy. It is also ideally suited for treating waste saltwater from other desalination plants, an important feature for inland desalination.

BC Hydro’s Powertech Labs proof-tested the technology and the company is currently operating a seawater pilot plant on the Vancouver harbour. This project was supported by the National Research Council of Canada and Sustainable Development Technology Canada. With support from the BC Innovative Clean Energy Fund, Saltworks has also built and tested a solar thermal plant near Penticton, B.C. to confirm its thermo-ionic process with low-grade solar thermal energy.

Saltworks, headquartered in Vancouver, has grown from two employees to 10 and plans to hire an additional six employees this year. The firm’s core technology is manufactured in Vancouver.

Highlights over the past two years:


  • Employee growth:  2 to 10
  • Investment: more than $1 million
  • Market value: 10- to 15-fold growth

Where are they now? G.R. Green Building Products Inc.