The climate change discussion can often focus primarily on the negative impacts of a warming planet on our society. While it is important to prepare for potentially harmful scenarios, it is easy to overlook the innovative companies that are creating solutions to combat our greatest environmental and climate challenges. One such company is Swiss-based Exlterra.
Exlterra, or Excellence for Earth, has offices in Switzerland, Poland, and the U.S. The company is at the forefront of innovation, crafting solutions to increase environmental health using the power of nature.
Drew Bond recently sat down with Exlterra’s CEO Frank Muller as a part of our Tech Voices series.
After spending the first 15 years of his career in finance, Muller decided he needed to do “something more meaningful” with his life. After moving to the United States from Switzerland, Muller met Andrew Niemczyk, who now serves as Exlterra’s Chief Technology Officer. As Muller describes it:
“When we met 10 years ago, it literally took me a few seconds to realize this man was different, but it took me two months to accept it. It was so impressive, his ability to understand nature, that it really was a shock for me. So that’s when we decided that we needed to join forces.”
Since then, Exlterra has created several impressive technologies. One is the Groundwater Energy Passive System (GEPS), which drains standing water from floods or storms back into the soil without harming underground structures. GEPS can be used at the residential and commercial levels.
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Muller and his Exlterra team have also created a passive system to boost tree soil health. It is called the Nutrient Enrichment Passive System. NEPS allows trees to reach and access nutrients that were previously inaccessible due to dense ground or poor soil health. NEPS and GEPS use similar methods to boost environmental health, as Muller explains:
“The common denominator between all our technologies is, besides we think differently than anybody else, we truly use the energies that are in the ground that are abundant and are true renewable energies. We are able to basically harvest them to achieve positive results. So what we’re focusing on right now, since ten years [ago], is to address the major issues that we create as a civilization.”
Exlterra’s most notable achievement to date is its work in Chernobyl, at the site of the 1986 meltdown. Using its passive system model, Exlterra has created a Nuclear Separation Passive System (NSPS).
“What we have demonstrated in Chernobyl on an area of two and a half acres is that we can reduce radioactivity, we can accelerate the decay of radioactivity in a timeframe that is absolutely incredible, on a human scale,” Muller says. “After one year of installing NSPS, we already have an average of 47% [radioactivity] reduction in the air and 36% reduction in the soil.”
While the progress is certainly remarkable, the Exlterra team is still working hard to clean up the Chernobyl area. Its goal is to return the area back to natural radioactivity levels within five years.
Moving forward, Exlterra is hoping to bring more of its technology state-side.
“For the NSPS technology, we have just yesterday signed an agreement with a company, and this will be announced rather soon, that will be in charge of developing that technology in the U.S. The strategy will be to bring NSPS to the market as quickly as possible to address the low-hanging fruit pollutants that are easier to manage like PCBs and PFAS. Because the technology can also address these types of pollutants.”
Climate change and other environmental challenges are long-term problems. By unleashing the power of the free market, Americans are encouraging innovative companies such as Exlterra to bring durable solutions to the market.
Read more about Exlterra here.