Globalization has allowed the disposable consumption habits of individuals to collectively have major impacts all over the world. With the growing awareness of human’s impact on the environment, sustainable large-scale remediation solutions seem like a distant goal.
Inventor Ricky Ricardo experienced the water crisis firsthand while consulting for the Central Bank in Nigeria. “If the best hotels in the capital city are making me sick, what is everyone else drinking?”. Ricky’s educational background in mathematics, quantum physics and biochemistry provides a unique perspective to understand why things are the way they are.
“Ricky doesn’t think outside the box, because he doesn’t see a box.”
– Major Gen. John Phillips (USAF Ret.) to then Director of NASA, Gen. Charles Bolden
Many large companies are doing remarkable things with water purification for niche markets but his fixation honed in on one element: Carbon.
Mankind’s relationship with charcoal is as ancient as our relationship with fire. Every culture pass down homeopathic remedies using charcoal through generations. Cooking, smelting metals, medical ailments, odor control, writing, and dental hygiene are just some of the solutions charcoal has provided.
Sailors have long charred the inside of barrels to keep the water fresh and healthy allowing for worldwide exploration and trade. Ancient Hindus and Phoenicians discovery of the antiseptic properties of charcoal leading to the first documented use in purifying water.
In 1794, an English refinery discovered that charcoal could be used to decolor sugar. Revolutionary discoveries draw the interest of entrepreneurial chemist, doctors, and businessmen. By 1820, the process to “activate” charcoal on a commercial scale was developed after this “viral” event sparked a revolution for medical uses:
“In 1813, French chemist Gabriel Bertrand had been working with arsenic for years. During a public lecture he consumed a dose of arsenic capable of killing dozens of people. The terrified spectators believed that the professor had lost his head and expected a creepy end. The professor calmly continued his presentation without experiencing any effect produced by the arsenic and, minutes later, unveiled his secret. What he did was add a little active charcoal in the arsenic to completely neutralize its effects. It became noted in medical journals as antidote for poisoning and treatment of intestinal ailments.”
Ten grams of activated charcoal has the same effect as a kilo (2.2 pounds) of charcoal. Consolidating into cities during industrial revolution forced demand for municipal water purification after series of public health crisis due to poor waste management. Sustainable demand allowed for the capital investment in industrial production facilities to create lower prices and build the barriers of entry.
Fossilization of compresses ancient peat increases the carbon density naturally. This has made coal-based activated charcoal the most popular for water purification today.
Ricky began to understand this process is perfectly industrialized to monetize its weaknesses. A limited lifespan requires costly maintenance and downtime. Static Production increases logistical costs for source materials and end users.
A deeper dive into current production led Ricky to the conclusion that: The small size (only flake and powder), several rounds of carbonization, acid washing to increase surface porosity and remove contaminants, and the steam-based activation are all done as work around for a fatal flaw in chemistry – higher temperatures turns carbon to ash before it can structure.
He learned that very smart people have had millions invested in them to create a wood-based water purifying carbon with the biological capabilities of biochar. This is considered the “Holy Grail” in the industry. The low cost and quality of biochar created today has regulated this process to wastewater projects mostly due to low comparative cost.
it would be the way it is done."
While there has not been advancements in water purification he learned that it was recently proven not all biochar are the same. Creating a specific low-oxygen environment to control the temperature above 600°C creates a turbostratic structured carbon.
In lab setting this is becoming an increased curiosity but all these processes need an external heat source. Expanding this specific environment to mass production so far has remained economical elusive on a commercial scale.
While still in Africa, Ricky began engineering an innovative combination of machine and biochemistry that accomplishes these goals.
After more than a year of prototyping and refining the process, Ricky moved back to the United States.
The abundance of timber waste - currently left to release greenhouse gasses in landfills - made North America an ideal production destination. He began working with a local university to test the benefits and potential harm of this new material he had created.
For many aquarium owners, their aquarium is the most expensive piece of furniture in their house, for some it is more valuable than the car they drive.
Pursuing the aquarium market provided real life results in a wide range of biological systems. Consumer have first hand experience with the strengths and weaknesses of activated charcoal making it an ideal market for recording any noticeable comparative differences. With advancement in testing technology and real time monitoring sent to phones, we considered this an industry of “amateur water experts” primed to provide feedback. By open communication with hobbyist, we assumed they would be able to provide a plethora of data and case studies showing AquaChar performing in ways that did not fit with the "carbon is carbon" mentality.
“No carbon change since October 2020, No water change since November 2020. Water doesn’t lie!” – Rocky, January 2020
APRIL 2019: AquaChar launched in the stateside Aquarium Industry. A couple months after launch we established distribution in Canada with Aquatic Distributors and international packaging & distribution Holland with DVH-Import. AquaChar is now available in 30+ countries.
JUNE 2019: we began working in the hemp industry along side Kentucky Green Grass.
AUGUST 2019: began working with catfish farmers in Nigeria which can be read about here. We currently lease 2 catfish farms and have several other farms running AquaChar in their system.
2020: PANDEMIC. NOT IDEAL! Thankful for the customers who supported us through this time! AquaChar pursued several opportunities in other industries and established partnerships with other emerging natural technologies. These are currently being tested.
FEBRUARY 2020: we launched a litter odor control product.
NOVEMBER 2020: Began testing AquaChar powder formula in Europe as a natural repellent that blocks chemoreceptors in mosquitoes and other stinging insects.
JANUARY 2021: Launched new green packaging in a compostable bag with recyclable box for North America Market.
2021: Continue to connect with more industries where AquaChar fits for a specific use.
By providing solutions to unique global challenges, our mission is to create a positive impact on the future world. AquaChar converts waste materials into structured carbon that, once exhausted, can be stored in the soil for centuries of beneficial impact. As an environmentally beneficial product, our goal is to create locally produced, full-cycle solutions for large scale remediation and waste management projects.
Updated: January 18th, 2021