The high presence of boron in the waters of the north of Chile -which is more than 40 times higher than the levels recommended by WHO and the ones set by current Chilean regulations - generates toxicity to humans and the environment, affecting productivity and the development of crops. In this line, Fundación Chile developed ABAR, a unique technology that removes all boron contents from drinking, urban, rural and irrigation water; thus being a project of high impact in the country.
The initiative is a highly efficient innovative low cost technology, based on an optimized ion exchange process that uses a specific resin to remove boron from water. The water flows through columns packed with resin in an innovative configuration that allows removing all boron thus making it usable for human consumption, irrigation and for production purposes.
Boron contained in the northern waters has affected the crops of hundreds of farming families. In the affected areas alfalfa and corn rarely grow, thus other crops with higher commercial value are limited. For this reason, the productivity of these areas is damaged.
"This project provides a market opportunity to work with agricultors and sanitary and mining companies, since they limited and controlled, being obligated to remove boron from water for their productive development. Existing technologies in the market are not as efficient as ABAR, either because they do not allow the complete removal of boron; they have high investment and operating costs or generate high volumes of residues. Thus, the high demand for good quality water and cost- efficient technologies, provide an opportunity for ABAR’s creation and implementation", said Juan Ramon Candia, manager of Water and Environment at Foundation Chile.
"Never before has there been an affordable and 99.9% efficient technology. With good quality water a positive change can be transforming, plant and animal species will benefit with the subsequent impact on crops and productivity; an improvement of people’s health and the avoidance of diseases, and it will enable industrial and mining processes to treat their own water", he added.
Boron is naturally generated since it is released from the Earth's crust through erosion and infiltrates into water bodies. Thus, it is not possible to stop it from happening. Considering this, the problem addressed by ABAR has an indefinite duration, and makes it sustainable over time. So, ABAR is opening development opportunities for the northern zone, not only at an agricultural level but also at a mining and industrial processes’ level and for sanitary companies, among others.