In the world of water and wastewater, algae is often seen as the problem. With agricultural runoff, municipal and industrial wastewater, and other sources of nitrogen and phosphorus entering our waterways, harmful algal blooms are increasing at an alarming rate. This is contaminating our drinking water, killing marine life, and polluting the broader environment. In […]
Founder Profile: Subir Bhattacharjee, CEO–IntelliFlux Controls
Artificial Intelligence is slowly transforming nearly every industry, and water is no different. Having worked in water for the better part of two decades, and having founded the company Water Planet, Subir Bhattacharjee had the experience to begin bringing Artificial Intelligence to water plants. The premise of IntelliFlux was simple: we have automated features that help technicians in other industries, why not have automated features for water plant operators? We caught up with Subir to ask him about his journey in the water industry and with IntelliFlux.
What is your role within IntelliFlux Controls?
I am the founder-CEO of IntelliFlux Controls. Originally from India, I spent my working career in the USA and Canada, learning about and deploying water treatment technologies for over 20 years. At IntelliFlux, we are making autopilots that control and operate water treatment plants autonomously and sustainably.
Where did you get the idea for Intelliflux Controls?
We originally developed IntelliFlux to operate and control mobile membrane filtration systems (a product from my other company, Water Planet), which were operated at remote locations, such as oilfields, and required autonomous operation, including responsive cleaning. It was dubbed the “brain of the membrane”. Eventually, many customers of Water Planet wanted to install that control system on their plants and filtration systems. This led to the genesis of IntelliFlux.
What’s the value you provide for your customer?
Enhanced reliability and lower operating expense of a treatment plant — increased uptime, production, savings in energy, consumables, and maintenance. The big differentiation is, it can be installed in existing plants as a software upgrade (like a cable connection), immediately demonstrating improvement in their performance.
What is the biggest challenge to getting operators to adopt your innovative software?
Perhaps the same perceptions of threat that new automation paradigms provide to all professionals. IntelliFlux is taking a plant performance reading and an operating decision about 1000 to 10000 times faster than any human operator can do. This is new, and operators require convincing about how this can be game changing for them. Once they try it, they realize that IntelliFlux empowers them with information and decision automation that gives them true control and freedom. Imagine how autopilots in planes or anti-lock braking in cars were perceived when they were introduced. Now we trust our lives to these technologies.
What do you hope to see in the future of combining water and artificial intelligence?
I am already seeing plants that are learning faster about their interaction with their influent water and adjusting their operation proactively — sometimes offering insight that is better than what my narrow process expertise can provide! And the flavor of AI we apply now is very very narrow and rudimentary. In future, these plants can be connected, they can communicate and learn from each others’ experiences. This will be like having all our knowledge about water treatment archived and at our disposal. Recall how searching for something in a library was like before the internet or Wikipedia?
What are your priorities for 2018?
We want to have five more mainstream water treatment customers (system owners, operators, or technology providers) this year. I want them to try, and if they like what they see, buy, and spread the word about the value propositions of IntelliFlux. Nothing beats a spontaneous peer to peer referral from a customer.
Sum up your IH2O experience in 3 words.
Enriching, Encouraging, Exhilarating.