“I think you already have too much to process,” he considerately said.
However, for his productBut it’s easy to understand his enthusiasm you look at the benefits of the newly-opened company Envirolyte Cook Islands.
An hour may not be sufficient to cover all of those benefits, but directors Pureau and Dr Ian Calhaem ensured it was enough to get a good idea of what their products are about and the benefits they could bring to the Cook Islands
How it started...
“I run a charity in New Zealand called Pools in Schoolz and I was looking at a safe way of sanitising the pool water instead of chlorine because chlorine is nasty stuff and has all sorts of by-products,” Dr Calhaem said.
“I discovered this new process called Anolyte and I worked with Envirolyte New Zealand and we tested it on a school pool and got the water tested by Watercare at Auckland Water Treatment, who said it was absolutely perfect.
“They couldn’t find anything in the water even after 200 kids have swum in it, so I knew it worked, but at that stage I didn’t know why it worked.”
Dr Calhaem spent two years researching it to convince himself as a scientist that it was as good as it seemed to be.
When he was convinced that it was 100 per cent safe for people and the environment, Dr Calhaem brought envirolyte to the Cook Islands with the help of Pureau.
Pools in Schoolz Charity installed a portable swimming pool at Titikaveka College in February this year which uses envirolyte to sanitise the water.
Dr Calhaem said it has been running perfectly under the supervision of Pureau.
“Chris then realised that it was sanitising the school pool well but it had other uses and that’s why we set up Envirolyte Cook Islands, a totally owned company in the Cook Islands but a subsidiary of Envirolyte New Zealand.”
Envirolyte Cook Islands is in the process of setting up a manufacturing plant so the products can be made here in the Cook Islands.
What is envirolyte?
The envirolyte system consists of electrolysis of a weak brine solution to produce two highly active, yet safe, solutions – neutral anolyte and a by-product k-catholyte, which is a non-foaming but disinfecting detergent.
“Anolyte is the main thing which has multiple uses and has got all the approvals which to me was very important. Approvals take a lot of time and are expensive but when you have the different approvals, you know it is safe to use,” Dr Calhaem said.
Anolyte is used to sanitise milk contact surfaces (Fonterra uses it in New Zealand), making clean, portable final wash down water, eliminating algae and bio-film from pipeline/irrigation systems, wastewater treatment, general sanitisation, household water treatment and odour control.
Anolytes are also used in agriculture, horticulture and the food processing industry.
Dr Calhaem said the product is made from electrolysed salt and water. It is non-toxic, and breaks down to these components when returned to the environment.
How relevant it is to the Cook Islands?
“The reason why I thought would be good here, is that we make anolyte with no harsh chemicals. The components we use are water and a bit of salt,” Pureau, who set up Envirolyte Cook Islands, said.
“People use a lot of detergents that can harm the environment. At Envirolyte Cook Islands, we are giving a safe alternative.”
Dr Calhaem said the product was safe for lagoon and the marine ecosystem as well.
“You can take this neat 100 per cent and it wouldn’t do you any harm,” he said.
Pureau said it would greatly benefit Cook Islanders in improving the quality of water they drink.
“Water can be contaminated quite easily because we draw it straight from the mountains and straight to our water distribution system. So if we can inject this into the water and sterilise the water then we can guarantee that people are drinking high quality clean water,” Pureau said.
“Also we have a lot of water tanks that are stagnant and we get rodents and other things falling in the water which creates bacteria. There is no safe way of cleaning that water unless you empty the tank and clean the tank out.
“With anolyte, we don’t waste the water. We add it to the water and instantly it starts killing bacteria in the water.”
The dosage needed is quite low, Dr Calhaem said, adding it uses only 0.4 to 1 per cent to the total volume of the water in the tank.
“Ian and I are leaving for Atiu on Monday and we will take this anolyte with us and work with the council, the mayor there, and show them how we can sterilise the water in a tank without emptying the tank,” Pureau said.
“The beauty about envirolyte, is that once (water is) treated we have excess of anolyte in the tank and when water is added, it still sterilises for a certain period.”
Dr Calhaem said the Atiu trip would be a trial and they would put measuring monitors in place to test water quality on the island.
How is the response so far?
“Ian and I have been very busy but we are hoping to get out to the tourism industry, the government, the water infrastructure industry and health as well,” Pureau said.
“This (anolyte) has also been approved to sterilise surgical equipment.”
Dr Calhaem, who has been visiting the Cook Islands for the past 20 years, said the anolyte process could become vital for the health clinics on the outer islands.
“People who have tried it here in Rarotonga are now coming back. We know the word of mouth is quite strong here so people are starting to recognise the benefit of the product,” Pureau said.
“They have been using it in their kitchens, sterilising the bathrooms and my wife uses it for washing because it sterilises the clothes. There are a lot of uses.”
Dr Calhaem said they had been packing their products in a variety of different sizes from the small hand-carried containers which are safe to carry on aircraft, right up to 1000 litre tanks.
The company can produce about 900 litres of anolyte a day from the Rarotonga plant.
“We have been careful to go slowly because we want to make sure it’s set up properly. The plant, which is not quite finished yet, will be in a sterile environment so that it can be approved by the biosecurity, etc.”
Because the final product is manufactured here, Pureau said, local customers can return their bottles when they are empty for refill, to ensure they do not end up in the environment.