On Thursday afternoon, Luxembourg's Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, vistited the premises of cleantech company APATEQ in Luxembourg-Kalchesbruck prior to attend the launch of an industrial scale plant with its patented membrane technology to be operated in the US.

The compact mobile plant is to be shipped in three containers to the US following successful testing in Europe, to enable the treatment of industrial wastewater, e.g. from landfill run-off, fracking and scrub water in marine uses. The company provides highly efficient systems for water and wastewater treatment using proprietary technology "Made in Luxembourg", especially for the oil and gas industry in North America. The special feature of its products is that they, contrary to all market solutions, do not use chemicals for the treatment process of wastewater. Instead, they produce clean water by means of membrane technology at a much lower cost than competing products. This unique feature makes the proprietary technology unique in the world.

During the visit PM Bettel was informed in detail about the fast development of APATEQ since the company’s foundation with its disruptive technologies for water treatment, some of which have already been patented. After the presentation of an operational demonstration unit, he met the key people of the company. Furthermore, he had the opportunity to see the first industrial scale plant for the oil industry, that treats fracking flowback and produced water, before it is shipped to the USA.

Bogdan Serban, APATEQ's CEO, explained that the company started operations in July 2013 when it received its first orders for compact wastewater treatment plants, with the first shipment just 2 months later. In November that year it received its first order for oil-water separation from a European-based customer, with the first plant equipped with such technology being shipped in January 2014; in October last year, oil-water separation treatment commenced in Kansas, USA, using APATEQ's equipment.

In January this year the company secured a €5.8m financing round with a Luxembourg-based investor; to date, 7 industrial-scale installations have already been sold and commissioned in North America.

The OilPaq 2000 industrial-sized plant is to be deployed in Ohio, USA, in October this year, and will be treating up to 2,000 barrels of oil/day, equivalent to 15 m3/hour, resulting in an estimated re-use efficiency of 95% of water resulting from fracking flowback treatment. It is being shipped in three containers: (1) pre-treatment, (2) ultrafiltration modules - the largest - and (3) control cabinet / office / storage.

I am impressed by the development APATEQ made in the cleantech sector, that represents a key aspect of the diversification policy the government pursues. I compliment the founders and directors of this young company, which has been able to develop within two years, notably assisted by structures supporting R&D in Luxembourg, a technology "Made in Luxembourg", that can change the way of water treatment in growth markets such as the oil industry”, said PM Xavier Bettel at the end of his visit.

APATEQ CEO Bogdan Serban emphasised the importance of the Prime Minister’s visit by stating “The visit of Prime Minister Bettel was encouraging for our whole team, who was proud to present the results of two years of sustained work.” At the same time, Bogdan Serban mentioned the promising market opportunities in the presence of the Prime Minister: “The oil industry is currently facing low market prices. Our solution leads to reduced production costs and to improved competitiveness. Our breakthrough technologies enable our customers to treat hydrocarbon-containing wastewater without chemical additives. Customers may also reuse their water and the recovered oil can be processed in refineries. The fact that we, as a small company from a small country like Luxembourg, are in demand by the American oil industry evidences the strong competitive advantage of the technologies developed by APATEQ.”

APATEQ employs 14 staff in Luxembourg and is currently recruiting to expand its team. It has also appointed 15 distributors in USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.

Photos by Geoff Thompson (top): APATEQ CEO Bogdan Serban