Food sector’s first-ever trial of revolutionary water-purification technology goes live at pioneering Kent vertical farm

Pioneering vertical farm GrowUp Farms has this week embarked on the food sector’s first trial of a new, disruptive technology at its farm in Kent, which is designed to dramatically reduce the environmental footprint of water treatment.

Salinity Solutions’ ground-breaking batch reverse osmosis technology – the first in the world to be manufactured commercially – could have a major impact on reducing wastewater, not only in the food sector but in many other sectors around the world, helping to solve the emerging global water crisis.

GrowUp Farms’ trial with Salinity Solutions, which will last for 10 days, aims to demonstrate how efficiently wastewater can be captured, purified to the highest food standards and reused at the farm in Kent, so GrowUp Farms can use even less water and reduce its impact on the planet even further.

GrowUp Farms, which was the first vertical farm to launch a range of salads into UK supermarkets with the launch of Fresh Leaf Co. in Iceland stores in February of 2023 and the Unbeleafable range in Tesco in July 2023, is already a keen advocate of sustainability. Its Kent-based farm is a highly controlled indoor environment, which provides the perfect growing conditions to grow food that is better for the environment. Leafy greens are grown using renewable energy and less water and the salad also stays fresher for longer, resulting in less waste.

The trial of the batch reverse osmosis technology is one of many ways that GrowUp Farms demonstrates its commitment to using technology and practices that put sustainability at the heart of its operations at the farm, and to support the industry in finding more sustainable ways to produce food in general.

GrowUp Farms Impact Director Gillon Dobie said “Producing more food with less resources is central to our philosophy, no more so than when it comes to our water use. We’re already making great strides to conserve this precious resource at our vertical farm in Kent and we’re striving to get even better. We’re delighted to be working with Salinity Solutions on this trial, which we hope will make a big difference to improving our positive impact.”

Globally, demand for water is set to double over the next five years. Water treatment consumes 4% of the world’s total electricity production and conventional reverse osmosis* systems are traditionally energy intensive. Crucially, Salinity Solutions’ technology uses half the energy of existing systems while recovering up to 98% of clean water, while it is also compact and easily transportable.

Salinity Solutions’ co-founder Liam Burlace added: “We’re grateful to GrowUp Farms for allowing us to demonstrate our technology in the food sector and hope this trial marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration. Our shared goal is to reduce the consumption of energy and water so the results of this trial could have a significant impact on how the food industry manages its resources.”
Funding for the trial at GrowUp Farms’ site in Kent (one of the driest UK counties) has been secured through a £29,000 sustainability grant from Growing Kent and Medway’s ‘Business Sustainability Challenge’ grant, which addresses key sustainability issues and opportunities. GrowUp Farms was one of 13 beneficiaries of a grant pot worth more than £1.6 million to fund projects in the region that will sustainably transform the horticultural and plant-based food and drink supply chain.
Dr Nikki Harrison, Programme Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said:

“We are investing in real-world business innovation and research projects that demonstrate how science-led, sustainable innovation can be deployed throughout the supply chain. This not only benefits the environment by helping Kent businesses become more sustainable but also stimulates economic growth. Fresh thinking can help create new revenue streams and new markets from waste by-products and processes.


“While these projects demonstrate the exciting innovation happening in Kent and Medway, we expect the knowledge that is gained to help transform our food systems throughout the sector.”

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