A glistening stream of water discharges continually into the Thames River from a London pollution control plant that sits on a bank of the river. The water has passed through many stages of the waste water treatment plant, becoming cleaner with each step, until it finally reaches the ultraviolet (UV) disinfection system built by Trojan Technologies (Trojan), a UV water treatment design and manufacturing leader headquartered in London, Ontario.
“People must have confidence in their water and water treatment processes. That is what we are all about,” explains chief technology officer Linda Gowman. “We bring expertise to treating all sorts of water. We have been shining ultraviolet light into water for almost four decades. Using this experience, Trojan has become an expert in disinfecting microbes in all sorts of water—from very dirty to very clean. In addition, we have engineered very large international installations to destroy micropollutants in water, directly with UV and with the addition of an oxidant like hydrogen peroxide. This lets us destroy chemicals like pesticides in water sources, which is very important with contaminated surface water sources.”
“Try to imagine a water treatment system that, put together, spans four or five football fields,” says Trojan president Marv DeVries. This is the reality that Trojan has created to serve the drinking water treatment needs of New York City. Trojan treats drinking and waste water on different scales, from residential systems, to villages, to cities like New York, to industries (such as beer brewing).
DeVries is a water engineer. He studied wastewater treatment at Western University and water resources engineering at the University of Guelph. He has been at Trojan for over 25 years, starting his career as a salesperson before becoming involved with other operations in the company.
Gowman is a mechanical engineer (BASc and PhD) with a master’s in biophysics. For the past 16 years, she has held various engineering and research management roles at Trojan. Furthermore, as a resident of Dorchester, Ontario, she drinks Trojan-treated water herself every day.
For a company positioned on the leading edge of an already high-tech and research-driven industry, there is no doubt that Canadian manufacturing offers a competitive advantage. Direct labour represents only a very small percentage of manufacturing costs, and locating manufacturing close to the innovation team is critically important. In fact, Trojan manufactures products in Canada before shipping them to China and to the more than 100 other countries that it serves.
GOWMAN AND DEVRIES ATTRIBUTE TROJAN’S SUCCESS TO THE COMPANY’S DEDICATED TEAM OF HIGHLY SKILLED INDIVIDUALS.
Its global employees number 750, with approximately half in London, and roughly 100 in Guelph. Gowman reveals that a key to Trojan’s success is creating opportunities for people from different fields to problem-solve together.
Trojan began 38 years ago in London, Ontario, with the vision that the use of ultraviolet light could eliminate the need for chlorine as a disinfectant in waste water treatment. The driving idea was to eliminate the discharge of chlorinated waste water into the environment. It was an environmentally sensitive idea decades ahead of its time, but it caught on.
Although the initial concept of treating drinking water with UV light originated in France in 1911, the lack of necessary technology at that time made it impractical. Some of the earliest research confirming the effectiveness of treating waste water with UV light was done by Environment Canada scientists in Burlington, Ontario, more than 40 years ago. Soon thereafter, Trojan’s first full-scale municipal UV facility for the treatment of waste water was installed in Tillsonburg, Ontario, under the watchful eye of the provincial Ministry of the Environment. Since then, Trojan has installed UV technology at over 9,000 municipal sites globally.
Most of Trojan’s engineering and research is undertaken at its London headquarters. The London manufacturing facility focuses on the municipal (TrojanUV) and marine ballast water treatment (Marinex) divisions. Viqua, the firm’s Guelph branch, focuses on household and consumer products, while Aquafine, in California, serves industrial clients. More recently, Trojan has been adding other technologies to its repertoire, and offers a unique filtration product through Salsnes Filter, from its Norway office, and full-service chemical programs for wastewater odour and corrosion control from USP Technologies.
Being a global leader comes with a fair number of challenges, but Trojan makes a point of viewing them as opportunities instead of problems. When a city council is faced with the challenge of decreased funding, for example, Trojan has the opportunity to aggressively innovate and design a more efficient system. “Added to global financial challenges is [the issue of] increasing global water scarcity. We believe that these challenges provide us with opportunities to develop and implement new technologies,” explains Gowman. “Big challenges are nothing but opportunities, when framed correctly,” says DeVries. “If you get it right, you’re creating an opportunity that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Increasingly, the global community is investing in tackling the worldwide problem of aquatic invasive species. These are organisms carried from one ecozone to another in the ballast water tanks of transport vessels. New regulations requiring treatment of the ballast water are causing headaches for ship owners, who are now tasked with implementing a treatment solution that will consume more of the ship’s energy, space, and expenditures.
Yet for Trojan, the ship owners’ frustrations became the design criteria for the innovation team. The company has recently invented a water treatment system that can be installed on vessels of any size, from small ferries to super tankers. The system is small, energy efficient, and cost effective, not to mention robust and user-friendly.
Trojan’s work is both fascinating and impressive, and suggests promising future developments. “Whatever your role at Trojan, you know that you are part of an organization that’s making a positive difference,” says Gowman. “The idea of making the world’s water supply better and safer—this idea is our reality. It certainly makes you want to get up in the morning!”
Trojan Technologies is engaged in the design, manufacturing and sale of ultraviolet disinfection systems for municipal wastewater, drinking water systems for residential, municipal and commercial use, and industrial systems for food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor applications. They are also engaged in the designs and installation of treatment technology for the environmental contaminant and micro pollutant destruction market.
Headquarters: 3020 Gore Rd, London, ON N5V 4T7
Other facilities: U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S.
- Marvin DeVries, President
- Linda Gowman, Chief Technology Officer
Year established: 1976
Number of employees: 750 total, with approximately 375 in London and 100 in Guelph
Revenues: $250+/- million CAD
Line of business
Ultraviolet light disinfection systems; Wastewater treatment services
NAICS: 335990 – All Other Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing
UV oxidation, UV photolysis, UV disinfection, chlorine/chloramines destruction, cell lysis, filtration, ozone destruction, hydrogen peroxide regenerated iron technology, etc.
Customers/applications: municipal (wastewater, drinking water and environmental contaminant treatment), industrial & commercial – aquaculture, food & beverage, life sciences, microelectronics, oil & gas, recreational water; marine – ballast, wastewater and drinking water treatment; residential
- Africa: Central, East, North, Southern, West; Anglophone West; Francophone.
- America: Central, North, South
- ASEAN Countries: Brunei; Indonesia; Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand.
- Asia/Pacific: Pacific Rim, South, South East (excluding ASEAN Countries), Caribbean
- Europe: Central, Eastern, West; EU West;
- Non-EU Former USSR;
- Middle East.
Exports total approximately 80-90%.
R&D, Skills and Educational needs
Employees: engineers including microbiology, civil, electrical, chemistry, optics, as well as professionals in finance, programming, control systems and international business
Education: experience hiring from Fanshawe College, Ivey Business School, PhDs from universities including Waterloo, Toronto, Guelph and Western
In 1976, entrepreneur Hank Vander Laan bought Trojan Metal Products Ltd (metal toolboxes), intrigued by their patent of a UV treatment unit. Trojan then started developing a commercially-viable UV Disinfection system for municipal wastewater treatment, in partnership with Environment Canada. In 1983, the company reorganized to form Trojan Technologies Inc., and developed a line of UV systems for municipal wastewater and drinking water treatment, industrial applications and residential applications. Trojan went public on TSX, then acquired Arizona based company specializing in UV oxidation, as well as a US H2O2 supplier. In 2004, they joined Danaher Corporation, a science and tech leader, in their environmental and water quality group.
100+ competitors worldwide, but none on a global scale – competitors are mostly focusing on local markets.
- Since 2010, Trojan has been investing a significant portion of its research budget to hire interns from the Mitacs program and has worked with researchers at Western University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Guelph, McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Windsor.
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
- Principal strength is leadership in UV disinfection technology, established global reputation
- 77% market share in global wastewater UV disinfection market
- With over 9,000 municipal facilities in more than 50 countries using its technology, Trojan has the largest installed base of UV systems in the world.
- Strong emphasis on marketing and sales – network of local professionals.
- Global water scarcity
- Aquatic invasive species in ballast water
- Global financial challenge makes it difficult for municipalities to finance new investments
- Regulatory agencies move slowly
- 2005, acquired Aquafine, leader in industrial UV treatment sector.
- 2008, acquired R-Can Environmental, leader in residential water treatment manufacturing.
- 2010, restructured to also create Trojan Marinex, focus on marine industry
- 2011, acquired OpenCEL, pulse cell lysis technology.
- 2012, acquired Salsnes Filter.
- 2014 inaugural Mitacs Award for Leadership (in science)
- 2014 Quality Gold Award Recipient for Excellence