How to Eradicate Dead Zones, Cut Energy Needs by 80% and Double Lithium Selectivity

Membrane filtration is a fast-moving scene striving for innovation and quite differentiated approaches. But has it ever been as disruptive as 3D-Printed spacers and graphene coating that puts performance on steroids? Let’s dive into one of the most fascinating takes on the matter in years:

(Also check my entire Lithium deep dive!)

with 🎙️ Chris Wyres – CEO at Evove

💧 Evove aims to take membranes to the next level, overcoming the inherent flaws in conventional architectures, hence transforming membranes, transforming separation, and filtration.

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Precision engineered Membranes – Slider


What we covered:

🥇 How G2O Water Technologies was founded around the use of graphene to coat membranes, how that was game-changing by itself and how Evove still took it to the next level

🗝️ What the problem with incumbent membrane technologies is, and how Evove’s technology aims to correct it

🆙 How Evove’s technologies multiply a membrane’s specific surface by three, reduce energy consumptions up to 80%, improve desalination’s yield by 30% and double the membrane’s selectivity

🖨️ How 3D-printed membranes at scale may disrupt the world of membrane filtration as we know it, and how they may unlock localized manufacturing

0️⃣ How producing lithium and green hydrogen is a great thing to do, but if it comes at the expense of heavy carbon and environmental impacts, it doesn’t make sense

🚏 How Evove went down a different path than other companies developing graphene membranes and why

💪 How the company picks applications where existing tech struggle to leverage their specific edge

🕸️ How in the case of direct lithium extraction in particular, Evove’s superior selectivity is an asset to sort out white oil from calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and all other salts

↔️ How Evove didn’t “just” design a lithium-catered membrane, but an entire end-to-end solution for effective production of lithium carbonate

📏 How the company tailors its solution to every specific case, within 30 days, and supporting its customers end to end

🦄 How Evove intends to become the water sector’s first unicorn (well, second to Gradiant, but still, that’s a bright and bold ambition!)

💰 Precision engineering membrane pore size, preventing fouling and scaling, revamping the direct lithium extraction process train, Evove’s business strategy, sub-sea desalination as a way to power green hydrogen, speeding up the pace of innovation adoption, advocating for increased capital focus on the water sector… and much more!

🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥 


🔗 Come say hi to Chris on LinkedIn

🔗 Check Evove’s website

(don't) Waste Water Logo

is on Linkedin ➡️


Editorial: Precision Engineered Membrane

In the middle of the 19th century, a Belgian inventor, Adolphe Sax, conceived what’s known today as the saxophone, which is today the fourth most popular instrument, just behind the piano, the guitar, and the bass. Yet, it wasn’t Sax’s only invention, as he also conceived Saxtrombas, Saxtubas, considerably improved the bass clarinet and invented the Saxhorns that also still somewhat live today.

Adolphe Sax presenting the Saxhorn - kind of an allegory of modern Membrane scene

Yet, have you ever heard of the Ophicleide? Or of the serpent? I could keep naming many more less successful instruments, and if you want to get an anthology of all of them, look up an original score from Mendelssohn or Berlioz: Romantic era composers really leveraged that wave of new ways to produce all kinds of sounds.

Each of these inventions addressed specific needs, but not all overcame their flaws or found a clear use case, like the saxophones with the military orchestras. And so, only a few stood the test of time.

2020s Membrane Scene and the Mid-19th Century Orchestras look alike

To me, the membrane world today resembles a lot of the mid-19th century orchestras. It’s tingling with incredible ideas, new takes, new materials, radical approaches, and blooming innovation.

We’ve addressed several of them on that microphone, from Membrion’s ceramic ion exchanging membranes to Zwitterco’s zwitterionic material, through Cembrane, LiqTech, a membrane anthology with Graeme Pearce, or the history of MBRs with Andrew Benedek.

But with the boom in membrane applications, there are also new needs, new challenges, and new markets to address, which keeps incentivizing and rewarding innovation and differentiated approaches.

Musical instruments or precision engineered membranes? Can’t tell!

Evove actually ticks all these boxes. They’re actively developing new application fields, such as lithium extraction or green hydrogen production while building the rocket on the go with their Enhance and Separonics product lines. They’re also bringing new perks to membrane applications in desalination or food and beverage. And they’re inventing a new type of company: decentralized, finely adapted to each vertical, and frankly ambitious:

“We want to be the Water Sector’s first unicorn!”

I won’t spoil you too much of what Chris very openly shares in today’s interview, don’t worry; I’ll leave him the floor just after reminding you that if you like what you hear, if this is of any value to you, please take that episode and share it with a friend, a colleague, your boss or your team. Thanks a lot to all the ones I see doing it every week, that’s heartwarming to me. Is Evove a saxophone or an Ophicleide? Time will tell, but you can build an Idea for yourself right after this.

Full Transcript:

These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂

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Antoine Walter: Hi Chris. Welcome to the show.

Chris Wyres: Thank you. I’m pleased to be here.

Antoine Walter: I’m excited about today’s conversation for many reasons. I mean, your company itself, what you’re doing, which sounds like really special in this water sphere, and also from another perspective and for another kind of adjust topic, which is not directly water, but has to do with water, which is lithium.

So that’s what I have on my agenda for today. I’ll elaborate a bit in a second, but after editions on that microphone, which starts with a postcard, and you’re sending me a postcard today from Daresbury. So what can you tell me about Daresbury, which I would ignore by now?

Chris Wyres: Dabury the site that we are on it’s part of the UK Science and Technology Foundation Council’s facility. And we are very fortunate to have a lot of expertise on site and facilities uh, we’re able to access and leverage, including the UK’s highest performance supercomputing facility, which is an IBM UK government stronghold.

And that’s what we typically used to do rapid modeling, computational modeling of many of the membranes we’re developing as well as various other simulations we use for additive manufacturing, as well as some design work utilizing some latest generation ai.

Antoine Walter: You mentioned membranes and also said straight from the introduction that it has to do with the water industry. Yet I’m curious to understand how you got personally into this water world. What led you to. That challenging environment.

Chris Wyres: Yeah. G two O was founded by some friends of mine two of which I’d worked with in a previous business which I led through , to exit. knew my background in material science and tech development and asked me to provide some advice on their strategy.

So I joined the board. I was providing advice and then just got more and more , involved in the project. This was part of a portfolio I’d started building of tech businesses, which I thought could make real impact. Across many different sectors whether that’s urban air mobility or water.

But this has really fascinated me both from the challenge that presented but as well as the potential impact we can create. if we are looking at climate change I think there’s a phrase used a lot, there, there is no green without blue. And you start to understand the critical role that water plays in climate change.

 I became more and more passionate about delivering a solution that could really help. And membranes lie at the heart of all water processing applications.

Antoine Walter: mentioned how you got more passionated about it, which I would translate into. You joined the company on the board, and then you took over the company and run as the c e O of G2 Water Technologies and then transformed it into its current name of Evolv. So what’s the

Chris Wyres: Yeah there were really two angles , to this. GTO was founded around using graphine oxide coatings applied to membranes. I joined business full-time we took a long, hard look at the strategy and the impact we could deliver using graphing oxide coating.

And then it’s tremendous. Don’t get me wrong we’ve made a lot of progress. changed the game with graphing coatings alone. But to go one step further we needed to, address the underlying problem in membranes. And that they’re not precision engineered devices. They’re essentially pieces of polymer or ceramic with randomly sized, randomly distributed holes in many of which don’t go anywhere.

They’re dead ended. They don’t offer you precise control over the structure and the properties you can deliver. So we decided to develop a new, way of making membranes. And that was based around 3D printing. So the products the business , was going to offer its strategy had changed fundamentally.

wanted to reflect that in a new branding. Also the application areas which we were addressing had broadened from typical water based applications into things that are gonna underpin the energy transition, so specifically lithium and green hydrogen production. it’s that whole change of emphasis that we wanted to reflect , in a new brand.

And, e evolve was what we created, which I think is very distinct from many other brands in the space. Both in color palette, but also its name.

Antoine Walter: So you’re saying you’re, you’re not blue,

Chris Wyres: Yes.

Antoine Walter: which which is

big difference.

Chris Wyres: Absolutely. Yeah. And Andrew Walker our, C M O was instrumental , in many of the decisions there.

And, he’s a seasoned water professional and he said, let’s do something that’s not water. And he had my full support for that.

Antoine Walter: terms of standing out. Absolutely. , that works. And kudos , to Andrew for that one and also for us together in that call. Cause he, was instrumentally in preparing that discussion. You, mentioned membranes. so that’s the obvious lead for me , to dive into our deep dive for today because I’d like to understand, you’ve mentioned some of the elements. I’d like to start from the problem you’re aiming to solve, which is this element of. Membranes have random poor sizes, some of them being dead end as you just mentioned.

So I guess that is the problem you’re aiming to solve. How did you identify that problem and, what’s the real challenge inside that problem?

Chris Wyres: So in terms of identifying the, problem we got a, very talented bunch of scientists and engineers and the first, thing they did was analyze existing membranes, took cross-sections, did high power microscopy, built digital twins computational models looked at how fluids flow through , these structures.

, and identified all of the issues , we needed to overcome to build a perfect membrane. It’s very clear once you start doing the computational modeling that the structures are suboptimal and they’re limited by the current manufacturing techniques, you just don’t have the level of control you’d like over pore size distribution, the three dimensional architecture, which sits below each pore.

So you can’t really optimize the flow properties of, these devices. Whereas, using 3D printing, you’re able to control every aspect I’ve mentioned there. So you can precisely define the pore size, you can precisely define what you’re filtering whether that’s a given molecular weight or a physical size in terms of size of particle.

Antoine Walter: Does that mean that the key driver here is the graphine material or the 3D printing?

Chris Wyres: It’s two very distinct approaches. We use graphene oxide coatings. We apply coatings to the surface of existing membranes to refine the pore size and structure. But , there’s only so far we can go. If you have , pores, which are, a hundred times bigger than other pores , in that particular membrane.

There’s only so far a coating can bridge that gap. So you then have to address the fundamental issue. Let’s just get the poor size under control. Let’s precision engineer the poor sizes. And then you build down from there through the sub-structure. How do we minimize the engine requirements to push water through this membrane?

How do we build structures in which prevent fouling and scaling both on the surface and sub-structure. really addressing all of the issues which people typically see right across the water space.

Antoine Walter: Let me just, ensure I pin the challenge right here, which is you’ve done this, cross-cuts and this in-depth computational study of the existing membranes. What I noted down in my preparation work is that you found out that 17% of the actual surface is used today.

Chris Wyres: Yeah, I


Antoine Walter: Can you go to 100% or what’s the leapfrog here?

Chris Wyres: well,

17% is a typical number you see in most membranes. It can be higher, it can be lower, but it’s normally in that range. In terms of what we can do, we can go much higher 50% if we want to. And that’s because we’re able to engineer specific structures which provide the mechanical integrity required to exceed 35, 40%.

Cause you imagine you can’t go a hundred percent cause then you’d have no surface. It would just be a one big hole. 50% is a very high number.

Antoine Walter: it’s free x the average or the the market standard

Chris Wyres: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s not just about that though, Anton it’s about what you do with a fluid once it passes through the initial surface, how you manage the fluid dynamics, what energy requirements there are to address the big problems.

if we’re looking at climate change, it’s all about reducing the amount of energy required to, process a fluid get to a product provide a vital service.

Antoine Walter: And so that entire package you’re describing here, is that what makes your, and I quote your website, perfect membrane.

Chris Wyres: Yeah. That’s the goal. We’re precision engineering membranes for specific applications. And, we are, we’re able to drive down the engine requirements quite significantly, up to 80%.

Antoine Walter: can you give me the special sauce and the trick to, bring that energy requirement down.

Chris Wyres: it’s not just one single ingredient. It is a source as you say. So it’s about having way of precision engineering, the membrane building a. Three dimensional architecture, which minimizes the energy required to, process that fluid , through the structure, but also having a structure which filters or separates what you want to remove from that fluid.

So that could be defined by pore size. it can be defined by other specific elements in the structure. So it’s really just taking all of those variables in, the input feed, water or fluid and precision engineering nearing a, three-dimensional architecture to process that fluid and give the desired product, whether that’s salt removal, food processing, et cetera, et cetera.

Antoine Walter: I have a question for the stupid, which in that room is clearly me. If, I read right you, you’re 3D printing the membrane, the spacer, and the liner.

Can you just explain like really for the layman, what do the Aust terms mean and what does

that mean?

Chris Wyres: yeah. So sorry Anton I didn’t do a good job in explaining really our, product portfolio. So there are two, ranges. We have our enhanced range, which are products we apply to membranes to enhance the performance. And they include the graphing oxide coatings spaces, which go into spiral wound membranes, but we 3D print those spaces.

We don’t use conventional manufacturing and inserts, which go into tubular or hollow fiber membranes. Again, 3D printed shapes, which optimize flow.

Our fully 3D printed membranes are what we call Separonics. And they’re distinctly different. But we’ll come back to those. So, Graph oxide coatings really straightforward.

You apply them to the existing membranes. We’ve made them retrofittable to finished membrane modules. So integration is very simple. Our spacer technology. And the big application for us here is is ro desalination. if you look in that industry what issues do they have in terms of membranes?

Well, phon and scaling, it’s a big issue that’s caused by many different components in, the membrane. But principally the spaces play a big role there. They create dead zones in the flow which allows things to accumulate or biofouling to occur. The spaces also Don’t manage what’s called pressure drop across the a membrane.

As you’re pumping fluid through a membrane, the pressure drops. The bigger the pressure drop, the more energy you consume. So we designed our spaces to eliminate dead zones, create turbulent flow, and to minimize the pressure drop. make the membrane work in an optimal fashion and minimize the energy required to process a given volume of fluid.

Antoine Walter: For that enhance line and approach, do you have like some numbers or keep it from a syndicators to tell us how you can

enhance how.

Chris Wyres: Yeah. If we look at our graph oxide coatings we can double the selectivity. Whether that’s food or lithium. Or other products? With our spacer technology, if we look at desalination around a 30% reduction in the energy consumption for desalination by incorporating our spacer tech for our insert technology in food and beverage processing, we’ve reduced energy consumption by up to 80%.

We’ve also flipped it on its head as well and increased production capacity by four to five x?

Antoine Walter: Impressive.

Chris Wyres: Yes.

Antoine Walter: If I’m right, you have what you just described, so the enhanced product range is commercial today and your

other. Product Theron membrane that is in development stage and might be commercial in 2024. Is

that right?

Chris Wyres: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So we’re working through scale up this year. And that was one of the big asks in terms of the fundraise yeah. This capital intensive process.

Antoine Walter: So you mentioned the fundraise. let’s dive into that. you just announced a 5.7 million pounds, sorry. funding rounds with two new investors in your capital. So at One Ventures and AEM Ventures, I think it’s in the name, the venture elements, but what’s the story of that funding round?

What you do you have to achieve with that?

Chris Wyres: Yeah. So the objectives and the use of funds are really to. Expand our manufacturing capability for both our Enhance products and our Separonics products. And to scale the business globally. Establish a global strategic partner network increase manufacturing capacity.

Establish a global strategic partner network so we can roll this out across all of our target sectors.

Antoine Walter: And from the specific profile of your investors, what does that tell about the future of your company?

Chris Wyres: at One Ventures are a very forward thinking impact fund very focused , on addressing climate change. So it tells you there’s good alignment with the impact our technologies can have there. they only really invest , in businesses that absolutely change the game in specific industries.

Our business is right now is really focused on lithium and, leveraging the tech into green hydrogen production. And can really change the unit economics there. So the cost of manufacturing lithium end to end, and also minimize the impact on the environment. Which is often the forgotten element in you know, the energy transition.

It’s all well and good creating lithium and green hydrogen, but if actually the carbon impact on the environment and physical impact on the environment I is much higher than the as is then what’s the point?

Antoine Walter: Very true to understand your, your point on the production capability. So you will be enhancing your production capability, but do you speak of production of membranes or production of membrane printing devices.

Chris Wyres: it’s both. We’re gonna expand our, manufacturing capability. So we can produce more membranes including spiral wounding membranes with our spacer elements coating, 3D printing the inserts and 3D printing the spaces on a much bigger scale.

Antoine Walter: but in the long

run, what do you intend to do? do? you intend to be a membrane company? a membrane printing, printing company, a technology house, which license its technology to, all the players. What’s your vision?

Chris Wyres: principally a membrane manufacturer. But we keep our business model flexible cuz we understand in certain territories and certain sectors that, basic, there’s not a one size fits all model. the model in semiconductors is vastly different to the model in food and beverage which is vastly different to the model in desalination or lithium or green hydrogen.

Ultimately what I, I see the bulk of the business being is regionalized manufacturing hubs have a range of 3D printers and conventional membrane manufacturing equipment.

Antoine Walter: you were called G two O, I guess you had to produce membranes out of graphine. Now that you are named Evolve, could that mean that you might be also looking at other materials in the


Chris Wyres: let’s address that first bit. We’ve never sought to make membranes purely of graphine. We took a coatings approach, so we took existing membranes and applied a very thin coating to regulate the poor size distribution and the surface properties of the membrane to create antis scaling anti-family.

That, that was a very

Antoine Walter: I took a.

Chris Wyres: Yeah it’s a very clear distinction between The strategy in graphene that we adopted compared to most of our peers who were trying to make the entire membrane from Graphine which is a noble thing to do and makes a lot of sense from a scientific perspective.

But when you, try to engineer a membrane, which is quite a complex device in that way it’s difficult and it’s also very expensive to make it purely out of graphene.

Antoine Walter: But, does that mean that in the future you might be looking at coatings, which are not of graphene? You could apply your coating to basically any type of membrane. I’ve been told by, people looking at you and saying it’s really like a great technology and very promising, but it sounds very challenging to coat in graphine so

Chris Wyres: no, that’s confusion in the marketplace. My background in is it last 15 years in the digital printing business. A lot of coatings, inks involved. A lot of our team are from those sorts of sectors as well. So we’ve developed coatings which are very easy to apply.

We apply them typically to finish modules. We can also integrate the coating process into existing membrane manufacturing, but actually the easiest ways to have a retrofittable product, simply just pump it through under controlled conditions prior to the membrane going into service.

So it’s very quick, easy, and cost effective. We apply a very thin coating. So yeah, it’s not overly affecting the physical structure of the membrane itself, but that thin coating has a significant effect on the properties of the membrane and its performance.

Antoine Walter: you mentioned your various application fields. One of them, if not the first of them you’ll, you’ll tell being lithium,

Chris Wyres: Yes.

Antoine Walter: took you to this application?

Chris Wyres: Yeah that’s a very good question. we’re looking at markets where existing membranes really struggle and cannot provide a cost effective solution with a minimal impact on the environment.

Lithium seem to be one of them. And we determined that selectivity was the key issue. It’s very difficult to selectively filter lithium from other salts. So whether that’s calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, we thought there was, fantastic alignment With our coatings technology in the first instance.  So the team set about taking existing membranes and adapting them to enable lithium to be selectively recovered.

Antoine Walter: terms of the thought process and the history of, that move, G two O Water Technologies was created in 2015, if I’m right.

Chris Wyres: Correct.

Antoine Walter: At which point of time did you realize that you had that competitive advantage with your coating technology within that lithium sector?

Chris Wyres: It’s probably as recently as 2021. yeah, we run a tech business. The guys to be honest, get a, a fair bit of freedom , in what they do. So it probably, it emanated from a Skunk Works project as all good things do. So yeah, visibility for us was really in about 2021. Just as I think, the lithium market was starting to report a big potential future supply gap.

Antoine Walter: And so what’s the first project? How does it start?

Chris Wyres: The first project starts with us supplying a pilot scale system for testing on site. And that’ll be happening most likely in the uk. That’ll be our first deployment. then we build out from there. To be clear, Antoine what we’ve designed here is not just a membrane.

We’ve designed an entire end-to-end solution for very efficient and cost effective production of lithium carbonate,

Antoine Walter: that’s exactly what I’d like to understand, which is you are on one end, a membrane company, but when it goes to d l e, so directly from extraction, straight off the bat, you decide to go from end to end. so what’s , the reasoning there?

Chris Wyres: Quite simply that, we’ve been able to design and build a process which is fully optimized and is far more efficient than existing systems. We have membranes on the front end. Then we have downstream refining processes. If we went and bought an off the shelf, if there is such a thing a piece of equipment for refining the geothermal waters or brine then it wouldn’t be optimized for the feed water which we’re producing.

After our membrane filtration stage it would be much bigger and it would cost more to manufacture the end product in all honesty. And it’d be far more complex. So we’ve taken the view that we’ll optimize each of those subsequent processes so that we have best in class technology end-to-end.

Antoine Walter: But best in class technology, which might come from third party.

Chris Wyres: Yeah. As a business at the heart of our strategy is localized manufacturing. It’s one of the key benefits of of 3D printing, additive manufacturing. that really enables it the thought of building equipment and shipping it halfway around the world horr me. I think that the carbon footprint, which would be associated with that It’s horrendous. Absolutely horrendous. our strategy in the lithium sector is to take our designs and We have local partners who can manufacture in the region and supply the equipment.

Antoine Walter: I’ve used one

acronym yet, which is DLE, so this is direct lithium extraction. I’ve heard on dot microphone for instance, when I was discussing with Ben Sparrow from Saltworks, we discussed about CRC concentrate, refine and convert. You are using.

One different acronym from, what I read, which is IPR for isolation, polishing and Refining.

So how does that describe your process?

Chris Wyres: So three steps The first we isolate the lithium. We get rid of all of the problematic elements. Typically calcium, magnesium, et cetera, in that first stage. the downstream. Polishing and refinement process is far more compact, far more cost effective, far more efficient.

Antoine Walter: to catch you. So isolation is what you do with your graphing


Chris Wyres: it is. And we use our 3D printed spacer technology in those membranes to minimize energy requirements and prevent failing and scaling.

Antoine Walter: Very clear.

Chris Wyres: Okay. So isolation. Very clean feed. Containing monovalent, s particularly lithium. It then goes into a polishing stage just to take out any p p b levels, any tail of calcium, magnesium, that’s crept through.

Antoine Walter: You don’t want to be a pain, but you’re polishing step very clearly. It does, but how do you do


Chris Wyres: we use a proprietary iron exchange technology.

Antoine Walter: Okay, so you’re not only intend to change the the face of membranes, you also intend to change the face of iron


Chris Wyres: Yeah. But it, we can make it work with other iron exchange, but we have a preferred system, which is just more efficient and effective.

Antoine Walter: you crack me the secret a


Chris Wyres: No,

Antoine Walter: No, I tried.

Chris Wyres: No. so again, we isolate it. We then take out any final impurities and then we move into a refinement step, which is, again, it’s a proprietary iron exchange technology. Where we effectively isolate the lithium and concentrate it. And this is a very important step. Typically people we use ro membranes to concentrate, which are energy hungry and comparatively inefficient.

And we’ll occupy a large footprint on most plants. So we don’t need that. So it’s simple membrane filtration. In the first stage, we clean it up a little bit more, polish it. In second stage, and then we’ll refine it into a very high quality lithium chloride feed, which can then be processed into the battery grade materials.

Antoine Walter: So the output of your extraction is lithium chloride, and then you use, I guess, market standard roots to go from chloride to carbonate or chloride to hydroxide, depending on what’s needed.

Chris Wyres: correct. The purity and the concentration of our feed makes the subsequent steps much easier as well. So we’ve taken this whole, end-to-end solution approach. So we can minimize the footprint, minimize the cost and most importantly, minimize the impact on the environment of this refinement process.

Antoine Walter: You, mentioned how your first 2021 project was in the uk, which is. Not known to have the high content of lithium, which you can found in Argentina. So I think that kind of gives us already a part of the answer, but what is the lithium concentration you’re looking for in these geothermal brine or whatever source you’re looking at?

Chris Wyres: It doesn’t really matter. another U S P for our solution is that we can work with either very low lithium concentrations as low as 10 or 20 ppm, right up to, several hundred ppm lithium concentration. More importantly though, is the what makes up the rest of the feed the composition.

And we can tackle easy brine at, which are look like seawater, 45, 50 thousand TDS levels, or we can do the really difficult stuff which is 300,000 plus tds. Loaded with calcium, loaded with magnesium really challenging feeds that other people really struggle with.

But our, our system it’s such a broad capability. We can deal with all of it.

Antoine Walter: Magnesium is, usually seen as the one which is the most problematic by conventional approaches. I hear you. How that is less if a problem at all for your technology. Do you have like another scavenger, like one which would be then your specific nemesis?

Chris Wyres: No I would, I’d pro I’d probably say the sodium and potassium levels are probably the next biggest concern. But there’s not a lot that we’ve found, we’ve encountered in the market that we’ve not been able to deal with.

Antoine Walter: So that’s for the technological side of things from a. Business perspective. When you say end to end, I could see you bolted at any of the ends actually with, your customers. So do you work with the developer to look at a way to develop its resource? Do you work with the battery manufacturer to kind of be selling the lithium element?

How, is it coming into music , from a business perspective?

Chris Wyres: we typically work with the companies who are extracting the, the brine.

Antoine Walter: So that makes me a very smooth bridge to my own personal project. because I might be then , your customer, if I get it right.

Chris Wyres: Okay.

Antoine Walter: I mean, I mentioned it’s not a project, it’s a thought exercise. But directly in my backyard there is a lithium resource, which.

For many reasons , is a very complex project. It used to be a set of potash mines. Those potash mines exhausted , their potash contents at the beginning of this century. So beginning of the 21st century when they got converted into landfills, that didn’t last long because they took fire.

and since 20 years now there’s this open environmental topic in my region of what shall we do with that, waste, which half burns and which is 300 meters down in the pot mines. And there were concerns around the water, which is surrounding that landfill. And when they looked up the analyzers of that water, they found out that there is quite a high content of lithium.

So we are speaking here of, I have two samples. One is at 310 ppm, the other is at 430 ppm. And as a thought exercise, I’m looking into, Potentially developing that resource. And I’m discussing with market players and technology companies like you to get their very qualified and informed view on that stuff, which to me is just a sheet of paper and I’m trying understand what to do with it.

So what would you advise as a way forward starting with that resource? If I wanted to see what’s feasible and what I can do with it.

Chris Wyres: first comment is, and that’s a very high quality lithium feed. The concentrations are very good of the lithium. It then comes down to the rest of the composition, but our process is very straightforward. Yeah. We’ll get a copy of the composition. We’ll prepare synthetic brine exactly the same as that, do some quick lab tests, but we’ll also build a digital twin and start to look at how we need to optimize the process for those specific feeds.

Antoine Walter: A digital twin of the process or a digital twin of the hydro geological

Chris Wyres: No digital twin of the process that we’re going to utilize for your specific brain. So we very quickly get to a full techno economic analysis. And feasibility on, what we’re gonna need to do to process this brine to extract the lithium, and then we come back to the customer and say, how does this look?

are we in the right price bracket? Is the footprint available to put this plant down, to process it at your target scale?

Antoine Walter: You mentioned a keyword which sounds very important, which is very quickly,

Chris Wyres: Yes.

Antoine Walter: everybody I’ve talked with so far said to me it’s a race. It’s an interesting race. but it’s a race, so you have to be fast. So when, when you say very quickly, how much time are we discussing here?

Chris Wyres: one to two weeks?

Antoine Walter: So that’s beyond very quickly. That’s light fast.

Chris Wyres: Yeah. every inquiry which comes into our business Whether it’s simple or complex we answer within 30 days and keep the communication going with the customer all the way through. We have a dedicated, very experienced very professional customer success team who manage that process end to end.

Antoine Walter: again, from what I heard from other companies, a active in that space. I mean, I didn’t speak with many technology companies. I spoke with developers, with consultants, there are not so many technology plays either, which are. Deemed to be legend by all the people I, spoke with, and you’re one of these legend companies, which is also why I’m so excited to speak with you.

that disclaimer made what many told me is that they get a lot of inquiries. Like sees that there is this lithium spot price at 70,000 or 80,000 per perton right now, which makes a lot of projects potentially profitable at that hate. So how flooded are you with the demands?

Chris Wyres: we’ve got a tremendous pipeline of opportunities which will, help this business achieve its objective very quickly to become, a unicorn in the water space.

Antoine Walter: I, heard that one right, but I wanted to be absolutely clear. So you’re aiming to be a unicorn.

Chris Wyres: Absolutely. Yeah. And we’re very confident. Sharing a bit more insight one of our key objectives this year is, to have a pipeline of opportunities can generate over a billion a year in recurring revenue.

I’m not saying we’re gonna grow the business to that scale, but it’s to be involved in projects which can get us there in the next three years.

Antoine Walter: So within three years, your a r r should be of 1 billion.

Chris Wyres: That would be a nice thought. We’re not so stupid to think we’ll get there, Anton, to be honest. But it’s to have enough business in the pipeline, which could build a business of that size. Nobody will move fast enough for us. We’re not gonna be the slow link.

It’s gonna be the customer base.

Antoine Walter: I guess it’s not a matter of being stupid or not being stupid. I think it’s, it’s a matter of ambition and I’ve

really rapid-fire so many of my guests on that microphone and asked them if they were in for hypergrowth. And I think I, I have a rate of like 99% of no. And the last one person might be a, probably no, but we’ll see.

You’re, I guess, the first to so openly say that you aim to this hypergrowth route and with a sound confidence from what I hear from

your voice.

Chris Wyres: Yeah, absolutely. growth is limited by three things, really. Capital, obviously you’ve gotta be funded well enough. We have a fantastic investor base. We have a business which I think is highly attractive. getting good traction across multiple markets with some really, blue chip companies.

And. second aspect you’ve gotta consider outside of capital and the attractiveness of the business to its, its end customers is really how quickly you can scale your manufacturing. Because if you can’t supply product, then you can’t make sales. 3D printing and the other technologies, which we’re utilizing in our business are rapidly scalable.

 And also we don’t need a lot of real estate to create large volume production facilities.

Antoine Walter: just wanted to close the arc on the lithium part just to be exhaustive. And then, because I have more questions for you. coming back to my exercise, projects, do I have a tier one, tier two, tier three project here?

Chris Wyres: Look three to 400 ppm lithium. That’s a very good starting point. Depends on the size of the deposits to where we prioritize it. So that’s the missing piece of information. How much have you got?

Antoine Walter: I guess that’s the next question I need to have an answer for. I don’t have it yet, but it makes a lot

of sense.

Chris Wyres:

Do you have a puddle or do you have a, a, an intern, a sea

Antoine Walter: it’s part of a very big aquifer, but then how much of that very big aquifer has that concentration is, undetermined, I’ll do my homework. lithium is one of your vectors for growth and you just shared how your growth. Shall be in in hate where maybe one vector isn’t sufficient.

So the next one is green hydrogen. So what do you intend to do there?

Chris Wyres: Green hydrogen is essential to the energy transition more important than lithium in fact in the longer term perspective. The key issue with green hydrogen is that for green hydrogen to be realistic, you’ve gotta have the quality of water feeding into the electrolyzers that Don’t degrade them quickly.

Currently the lifetime of the ELECTROLYZERS is quite limited by the quality of the water coming in. You effectively need ultrapure water to make these electrolyzers work at their most effective. So ultrapure water likely use in the semiconductor industry, which we all know is a process, which is the conversion rates are terrible.

To get one liter of ultrapure water, 15 to 20 liters of potable water as your input feed.

Antoine Walter: a very interesting insight you’re uncovering here, because so far when I discussed green hydrogen with some of my guests, it was a matter of designating water. Like I did a full deep dive, like I’m doing like currently a deep dive on lithium. I did a full deep dive on hydrogen last year and one of the output were, yeah, if anyways you’re gonna desalinate a bit of water, you can desalinate a bit more and that bit more can feed your, green hydrogen production. But if now you’re adding these new pieces to the puzzle, which is to say, yeah, just throw desalinated water might not be sufficient. You have to go to ultra your water standards. That’s different game. why do you need to go to that quality of


Chris Wyres: it. Essentially any of the impurities, even at P p B level will accumulate in the, the electrolyzers make them more inefficient. They’ll impact the efficiency and in many cases, lead to degradation. If you get scaling on the surfaces, for instance. your only answer other than continuous cleaning, which just destroys them anyway, is to keep ramping up.

The voltage, if you like, keep it very simple. So you’re driving them harder and harder, which brings a lifetime down.

Antoine Walter: And so what’s your answer



Chris Wyres: So our answer is that using our membrane technology, we have a very efficient way of making preneur water. So conversions, efficiencies are higher. The energy requirement is much, much lower. there’s no point in making hydrogen where the carbon footprint of making the water outweighs that the gains of using hydrogen as a fuel.

Antoine Walter: Does that mean that you can fundamentally solve this imbalance of green hydrogen being three times more expensive than black hydrogen?

Chris Wyres: we can play a big role in that. Yes, very much and we see our Separonics technology in particular being able to do that. My personal opinion on the matter is this is gonna require subsea desalination in the first instance, your membranes have gotta be highly effective.

Cuz you can’t just swim to the bottom of the ocean and maintain your membrane plant. it’s gonna be down there 20, 30 years plus. It’s gotta be low maintenance, it’s gotta be ultra efficient. that’s what we think seonis can deliver.

That’s the starting point. And then obviously, Once you have the desalinated water, it’s then converting that into ultrapure in a very cost effective and efficient manner. And again, seonis plays a big role in that.

Antoine Walter: You’re opening a fascinating new door here and sorry because can push , for long new doors. So at some point you have also to stop me, but Subsid desalination, is it something you’ve already worked on?

Chris Wyres: We have some pro active projects in the space.

Antoine Walter: Would it be Maybe Norway.

Chris Wyres: No,


Antoine Walter: Okay. I’m


Chris Wyres: yeah.

Antoine Walter: it have something to do with your partnership with uh, s wcc?

Chris Wyres: No, not that’s um, very focused on, desalination and brine harvesting. But yeah, desalination is the main focus there driving down the energy consumption in desalination in particular.

Antoine Walter: Okay, so I’ll keep my radars very active because I’m really interested in when you are ready to, talk a bit more openly about this. Subsid alienation sounds like a fascinating topic. I have one last very important chapter on my agenda, which is this partnership you have with S wcc, which is the largest assassinator in the words.

If I am right, it has something to do with magnesium.

Chris Wyres: It’s one aspect of it. Yeah, I mean , we obviously have a level of confidentiality that I have to be mindful of. But I would say the goals of our with s w CCC are aligned to their very publicly in announced goals. Yeah, brine harvesting and driving down the cost and energy requirements in desalination.

Antoine Walter: In that order, like number one, brain harvesting and.

Chris Wyres: no. That I think if you look at what they publicly state number one is driving down the energy requirements for desalination, making that process far more effective. And, have big growth ambitions a big national and regional requirement to increase their desalination capacity significantly over the next 10 years in line with their intended population growth.

So I think they have to find the best in class technologies to achieve those goals. You they’re targeting below two kilowatt hours per cubic meter. Which compared to most desalination plants today is a long way away.

Antoine Walter: If I zoom out from the various applications and technologies we’ve discussed today, I’ll try to put it in my words and you’ll tell me how much of a shortcut I’m taking and how long am I might be. have your today’s business, which is around Enhance and your d l E technology.

You have your Tomorrow business, which is around crons and everything it’ll enable in terms of applications, for instance, green, hydrogen and desalination. Sounds like something you’re covering today with Enhance, but which is a bit smaller than the lithium portion. I’m just trying to wrap my head around it.

So if you had to put like very rough numbers around it, how much do you do in, in Lithium? How much do you do , in the other applications? And how will that mix evolve in the future?

Chris Wyres: if you looked at a mix over the next five years 70% will be in the lithium space. And the rest will be spread across food and beverage desalination, green hydrogen, which is a very early stage industry. In the next five years it needs to grow quickly, of course.

But yeah, it’s still a very early stage industry. If you look 20 years out, the mix is gonna change, and green hydrogen will become an equally big part as lithium as that sector emerges.

Antoine Walter: And usually I’m asking. To close the step dive, kind of a crystal ball question and saying, look, in the future, like in 10 years, what did you achieve for you or had already intended to go only five years in the future because you sound to have like a rapid path. What I heard from you previously today is that three years might be the right horizon, but I’ll let you pick if you want to see you are in three or in five years, but what will tell you that you’ve had an impact?

Chris Wyres: I think first and foremost is a large install base across our target sectors. that is the first indicator of success. I think the second indicator of success would be a global partnership network that’s able to supply. Service and support our business across multiple sectors in multiple regions.

Antoine Walter: Which kind of partners are you looking for?

Chris Wyres: It depends on the sector where possible we try to work directly with the end users minimize the supply chain, but in certain sectors we have to work with like semiconductors. So it’s a, it’s a well established supply chain in industry, so we have to work with the usual service providers , in that sector.

Desalination similar, you have to work through the EPCs, so.

Antoine Walter: Very clear. And

do you stand your point that you, you will be that first water unicorn ever.

Chris Wyres: I hope so. We’re very confident. We have a game changing business, transformational products and very strong traction , in the market in multiple sectors, whether it’s lithium, it’s green, hydrogen, semiconductors, and beverage, desalination or localized recycling of industrial wastewaters.

Antoine Walter: Well, Chris, thanks a lot for that in-depth tour of Evolve and I’d be looking forward to make updates your path , to that unicorn target. I mean, you made it clear. it might be the result, but you have very in between.

Chris Wyres: Yes,

Antoine Walter: So I’m really looking forward that SQL conversation to round off today is one, I have a set of rapid for questions.

If you’re fine with that, I will transition to that last


Chris Wyres: of course. Yeah.

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Rapid Fire Questions

Antoine Walter: So in that last section, I’m asking short questions, which aim for short answers. Usually I’m the one side tracking, so don’t worry. My first question is, what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?

Chris Wyres: The most exciting project we’ve been working on. We have so many. To be honest, that’s a really difficult question. For sure it’s in the lithium space. We have some fantastic opportunities. One in particular with a very forward thinking operator in Canada. It has an incredibly challenging feed and the team have been very successful in solving the challenge.

So really tough challenge. We’ve solved it and the partner is really excited about the potential and they have enormous deposits.

Antoine Walter: I, I warned you that I’m the one sidetracking. So here’s my sidetrack. I have actually two sidetracks. First I, I was in Canada some weeks ago to interview some, players within that deep dive for lithium. And they told me everything’s big in Canada. So you have like low concentrations maybe, but like huge deposits.

So, I guess that mirrors pretty well what you just explained. my question here is in that d l e word you sound to me like an outlier. Because you’re a European, I’ll not treat you anymore. Let’s say a UK British company. Most of the players are North American and Australian. Do you feel like left alone.

Chris Wyres: No, I don’t think we do we’re engaged with organizations across North America, Latin America, Europe. So I think you’re right. look a bit like an outlier. And, I think the alignment with that phrase is that we have something very different to everybody else in terms of

techno, in terms of technology.

In terms of the growth prospects and the ability to deliver on what we say we can deliver on we’re certainly not an outlier

Antoine Walter: Well, sorry for the sidetrack, but I was curious. I had to ask, so back to my rapid fur questions. Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way?

Chris Wyres: one thing, I’ve learned the hard way since being involved in the water sector the pace is incredibly slow.

Antoine Walter: guess that’s what’s all my, guests, from outside the industry are the most surprised when they start with, but still, you intend to change


Chris Wyres: Yeah. absolutely. And I think that there’s two parts to, to that. The pace of adoption of technology is slow. And the second part is that funding of the water sector woefully low. It’s changing, thankfully was much more focus on the water sector really the specialist funds are emerging but it needs to accelerate.

Antoine Walter: Yet, and I’m not opening a sidetrack, so it’s just my remark here yet you’ve been funded by funds which are not water specialists. So it sounds like when you really have a compelling business case, you can find investors which are outside that, that specific sphere.

Chris Wyres: Absolutely.

Antoine Walter: there something you’re doing today in your job that you will not be doing in 10 years?

Chris Wyres: Good question. I won’t be doing in 10 years traveling as much.

Antoine Walter: It’s incredible how often that answer comes. So I, I take your point. what is the trend to watch out for in the water sector?

Chris Wyres: Evove.

Antoine Walter: That’s a good one. I, I take it, last question, would you have someone to recommend me that I should definitely speak with as soon as possible on that microphone?

Chris Wyres: My colleague Andrew Walker, who I know, you know, well,

Antoine Walter: I’d agree. I think we’d have an insightful and, and fun time on that microphone. So, so thanks for the suggestion.

Chris Wyres: could I just go back 1 more? I would actually say one of the managing partners at at One Ventures who have a very different approach to venture funding and addressing climate change.

Antoine Walter: Well taken. I guess once I’m done with my lithium deep dive, I’ll take a breath and then my next tip dive is probably gonna be into the venture word. some of the things you mentioned today, like the low level of, investment into the water sphere, but also how specific players like the one which you’ve teamed up with are going into that sphere.

I guess suggestion might be very, very well used there as well.

Chris Wyres: Yes,

Antoine Walter: Chris, it’s been a pleasure to explore the path of evolved so far with you today, and I, I stand my case. I’d be really delighted to have a sequel and an update at some point in the future. If people want to follow up with you, where shall you contact you the best?

Chris Wyres: The best place to contact me is via email, either direct, into my email or via our info box.

Antoine Walter: if you’re fine with that,

outputs your, your, email in the show notes thanks a lot for the thoughtful conversation and I hope to speak to you


Chris Wyres: Likewise. Thanks for your time. Really appreciate it.

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