A Halesowen businessman has patented a new device that softens water and removes limescale without using chemicals, salts or filters.
Tony Allen's Oasis water conditioning system uses ultrasound waves to clean pipes and tanks, preventing limescale and improving water quality.
Now Tony is hoping judges in the Best Business Innovation Awards 2006 will see the potential of his system. The awards, launched in April of this year, are run by commercialisation specialists Rowan and The Birmingham Postand celebrate the inventiveness of Midlands-based entrepreneurs. The winner will receive substantial help towards making his or her idea a commercial success.
Tony came up with the idea for the product whilst working in the pub trade where he used a similar system to keep the beer pipes clean.
"I always thought the principle had far greater potential," he said. "I started with a simple cleaning system to help unblock pipes, but its greatest potential is in softening water and eliminating limescale problems."
The system works by transmitting ultrasonic radio waves through piping systems and preventing particles of calcium from attaching themselves to the joints and inner surfaces of the pipes. It also removes existing deposits and prevents build-up, so that water and other fluids can flow freely through pipes, making it ideal for industrial and commercial use as well as domestic applications.
Tony, who has set up Waterite UK to exploit the invention, has already had interest from fruit drink manufacturers, a milk producer, paper mills and confectionery companies.
"We have just helped a major confectionery company in Blackpool to solve a constant problem of blocked pipes. They were spending every weekend dismantling their expensive machinery to clean out the pipes and they had been told the only way to solve the problem would be to replace the #175,000 equipment. Oasis was able to clear the blockages and has so far been successful in preventing the build-up from recurring."
The Oasis ultrasound device also significantly improves the quality of water, softening it, removing sulphate, chlorine and fluoride smells and even reducing iron discoloration.
By taking away the need for chemicals in the water conditioning process, Oasis has important environmental benefits - when the water is discharged as waste it contains less chemicals and salts.
"We would like to see this product in widespread use and believe it will bring significant benefits," said Tony.
"But we need help to be able to exploit it commercially. We are a small team and have neither the marketing expertise inhouse nor the budget to pay for outside help.
"Winning the Best Business Innovation Award would give us access to just the kind of sales and marketing and business planning expertise we need to really take our product forward. We now have a fully developed patented product ready to go to market - what we need is the help to get it there."
The awards are open to all Midland inventors and innovators whether in industry, academia or professional institutions. There are two categories - for individuals and businesses that have been trading for less than 18 months and for businesses over 18 months old.
The judges will pick the candidates whose inventions have shown the greatest commercial potential and winners will receive up to #7,000 worth of help from Rowan towards making their idea a commercial success.