This year, Christmas came early for two small business owners who will receive nearly $30,000 to accelerate their company headquartered in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Their technology has the power to preserve precious freshwater resources and help companies save millions by recycling wastewater.
In 2015, brother-in-laws Mike Schuette and Josh Lauderman, co-founders of GCI Water Solutions, LLC, began exploring a solution to clean the billions of barrels of water used in the oil and gas industry. The mid-Michigan natives grew up around some of the best freshwater resources in the world, so they had a clear understanding of the world’s growing crisis.
“The largest output of the oil and gas industry isn’t oil; it’s water,” Schuette said.
With the backing of two Chicago-based investors, Schuette and Lauderman formed a company to test technologies capable of transforming production water back into fresh water that can be reused instead of being dumped— a feat not possible using traditional treatment methods.
“GCI Water Solutions has already proven their core technology,” said Erin Strang, president + CEO of Central Michigan University Research Corporation. “The funds we were able to facilitate will allow them to scale to the next level.”
GCI Water Solution’s technology, now verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, removes harsh contaminants without the use of additional chemicals. It is more cost effective and uses less energy than other potential technologies on the market.
Schuette and Lauderman will create engineering, management and operational jobs in Michigan and additional jobs at field sites. Stringent water treatment requirements in some states led to the company’s initial locations in Pennsylvania. However, the duo hopes to eventually apply the technology to other industries and locations, including places in their home state of Michigan.
“We knew there was an interest in preserving these finite resources, saving money and creating jobs,” Schuette said. “There will always be water to treat, and now we have a way to do that more efficiently and effectively to make sure that water can be recycled or discharged.”