Per Laurent REBOURS
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In the Gellainville industrial zone near Chartres (Eure-et-Loir), NT mascara has been pushing the walls in recent years. Rue Gustave-Eiffel has occupied Buildings A and B since June 2022 and Building C is being annexed.
However, the industrial SME managed to maintain its start-up spirit give your ambitions, your convictions, the means to grow, but sparingly, realistically. However, his revolutionary process of water desalination per solar energy is more and more popular all over the world and the adventure has just begun. The task is immense to provide clean water tomorrow for 3.9 billion human beings, because it is estimated thatin 2030 one-third of humanity will be under water stress.
Two men, one vision
Mascara NT is indeed a human adventure. A meeting of two men.
Marc Vergnetthen managing director and founder of the Vergnet group in Orléans, a French manufacturer of wind turbines and specialist in hydraulics, was behind the installation ofhydropumps powered by human energy bringing water to tens of millions of people, but also hundreds of anti-cyclonic wind turbines in on another continent is on Africa.
When he handed it over in 2013, bored, as he had been able to confide to the echoes that “France missed the target of the renewable industry” in favor of large groups “that earn money with service”, Marc Vergnet answers Maxime Haudebourg today dg. from the Mascara NT – installed on the Perche, which came from the world of the food industry.
The latter also had solid business experience, namely in water treatment with numerous projects carried out in the area of hydraulics, renewable electricity, etc.
Between the two men, the current passes quickly, both share the same worldview, are in communion of ideas and accept the challenge of public water supply head up.
The adventure began in 2014. Eight years later, climactic episodes can unfortunately only prove them right with recurrent droughtslarge hydraulic deficits all over the world.
The combination of two mature technologies
They founded Mascara NT (a reference to the Berber town where Marc Vergnet spent his childhood and NT for new technologies) developing a process unique in the world reverse osmosis desalination system using solar energy, Osmosun®.
We did not invent water desalination strictly speaking, but on the other hand the fact that it can be made from renewable energy, solar, by reverse osmosis, yes.
The company’s tour de force was to associate two mature technologiessolar energy and desalination by reverse osmosis which consists of separating fresh water from saline through a membrane and very high pressure reaching the 60 bar !
What Osmosun® can solve is to overcome any break of solar energy (if the clouds pass in front of the photovoltaic panels, for example) to maintain this constant pressure and that without an additional battery.
All in an easily transportable container
And, another tour de force for the company, having managed to maintain this frugal spirit allowing it to respond to emergencies anywhere in the world in record time.
Your devices enter to the nearest centimeter in standardized containersall you have to do is place them on trailers or container ships to quickly transport them to the other side of the planet, as later natural disasters.
Key dates for Mascara NT
■ 2014-2016: creation of the NT Mascara, installation of the concept, research and development, testing of an operational solution in Abu-Dahbi in partnership with a company moving towards responsible desalination.
■ 2017-2018: Suez is interested in the concept, the demonstrations allow the development of the market in South Africa, Mozambique, Cape Verde… States, before financing an enterprise, want to test its viability.
■ 2019: Fundraising of 2.2 million euros for ramp up, ongoing development.
■ 2020: With the Covid-19 health crisis, all travel is on hold. The end of lockdowns sees the development curve go up.
■ 2022: In September, the company reaches the symbolic mark of 2 million m3 of drinking water supplied.
Sixty projects are currently underway around the world, ranging from a few cubic meters desalted per day (Mascara manufactures very small units) to very substantial projects of 20,000 m3 daily. “We currently have a desalination unit in 5000 m3/day in Mauritania Summons Maxime Therillion.
A story of membranes and pressure
Desalination first involves abstracting water from the sea or a brackish reservoir. The collected water is filtered by sand filters then pre-processed to remove large chunks before the salt is separated by reverse osmosis then let this result be post-treated with chlorination or remineralization if necessary according to needs.
Discharges are made at sea after dilution according to impact studies.
Units, as needed, can be assembled to provide higher daily volumes.
For very large structures, the energy is then hybrid or else it comes from a solar farm because the needs are obviously much greater and it must not stop at night.
100% made in Chartres
The company currently has twenty-two employees and recruitment is ongoing. It is due to its strong territorial roots.
Innovation is obviously in the house’s DNA, but today there is a little less R&D and moreoptimization of existing systems to meet huge expectations around the world. Development is reasoned, it is done according to the capabilities of the company.
We still have 100% Chartres industrial production with our warehouse, our boiler… In the next few years, we should multiply our production by three or four, so we have to structure ourselves to deal with this with our heads held high.
In the coming months, Mascara NT will have to follow very large projects in caribbeanfor Madagascarat the Egyptfor green capfor Morocco…
The original project by start-up Chartres has now become a true social issue, a challenge for future generations with emergency solutions that must become permanent.
We must not forget that desalination is a last resort, the delivery of drinking water to living beings must involve repairing leaks in networks, new uses – such as avoiding using water to clean boats – new consumption habits, reprocessing wastewater, crops to rethink…
With solar energy, security
The use of solar energy makes it possible, in the absence of virtuous practices, to ensure the supply of water. In many countries of the globe there is strong sun, seasonal rains and people depend on these stored resources.
But these vital precipitations are becoming more and more uncertain in number and quantity and, at the same time, the uses of water are increasing. The water deficit can last for months, desalination can be a solution to compensate for this lack.
Mascara NT also continues to tour the world through its showcases, which are summits, international fairs or, more recently, the COP 27.
More than showing up, it is an opportunity for the PME of Chartres to establish long-term partnerships, as happened recently in Egypt where the irrigation of the fields was stopped by the construction of a dam on the Nile in Ethiopia.
The Osmosun® solution allows Egypt to maintain its independence about the water supply.
Mascara NT benefits from real experience, know-how that allows it to train staff on site to use its process with the aim of total autonomy. Enough to pursue this altruistic vision of appropriation of these systems by the individuals who need them most.
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