IDE Technologies was founded in the early 1960s in pursuit of Ben Gurion’s pioneering vision: the use of technology to transform the world’s vast oceans into a source of plentiful, affordable water for drinking, agriculture and industry. Through over four decades of research & development and hundreds of successful deployments, IDE has turned this dream into a reality, emerging as a world leading provider of advanced desalination solutions.
The Company began operating as a government-owned R&D company formed to create advanced desalination technologies based upon a unique direct-contact freeze desalination process developed by the Company’s founder, Mr. Alexander Zarchin. After years of development, in the mid 1960's, IDE began commercial sales of groundbreaking thermal desalination solutions.
Pioneering Leader of the Desalination Industry
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, IDE perfected its thermal distillation technologies (MED – Multi-Effect Distillation and MVC – Mechanical Vapor Compression) and deployed scores of thermal desalination units for industrial and municipal customers worldwide. In parallel, IDE strengthened and diversified all its technological capabilities, developing a full range of advanced processes for the separation, concentration and purification of aqueous solutions.
In the early 1990's IDE began experimenting with cutting-edge membrane desalination technologies, and by the mid 90's began deploying these in a new generation of desalination plants. In 1999, IDE constructed the 18 million m3/year Larnaca SWRO (Sea Water Reverse Osmosis) plant (later expanded to 21.5 million m3/year), the world’s largest desalination plant at the time, which achieved a then-record water price of $0.79 per cubic meter. As one of the desalination industry’s first BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) projects, this project also highlighted IDE’s growing financial and project management capabilities.
With the new millennium, IDE achieved recognition as one of the industry’s most successful and experienced large-scale SWRO player. With each project the company continued to refine its best-in-class technologies and processes, achieving a continuous increase in desalination capacities while dramatically reducing desalinated water costs on long-term BOT contracts. In 2005, IDE completed the 100 million m3/year Ashkelon SWRO plant (later expanded to 118 million m3/year), a game-changing milestone that reduced the price of desalinated water to $0.53 per cubic meter. At this low price, desalinated water became cost-competitive with other sources of pure water, making desalination a cost-effective alternative for water-challenged regions. In recognition of this achievement and the plant’s many technological breakthroughs, the Ashkelon facility was named the industry’s “2006 Desalination Plant of the Year”.
IDE’s record with the Ashkelon facility ushered in an era in which IDE continues to supply mega-sized thermal and membrane facilities throughout the world, focusing on major markets such as China, India, Australia and the US. In 2008, IDE completed the Reliance plant in India, the world’s largest MED installation, whose 9 MED units desalinate 160,000 m3 of sea water per day. In 2009, IDE won a contract for the construction of the Tianjin plant in China, a state-of-the-art facility that will use waste heat from a mega-sized electricity generation plant to power the thermal desalination of 100,000 m3/day. Then, in 2010, IDE signed a second contract for the deployment of four additional MED units, doubling the plant’s total daily desalination capacity to 200,000 m3, making it China’s largest desalination plant.
IDE continues to move forward in the capacity and efficiency of its membrane-based desalination plants. In 2009, IDE completed its largest project ever: the 127 million m3/year Hadera SWRO plant, with a contract price of $0.57 per cubic meter of desalinated water. Then, in 2010, IDE won a contract for an even more ambitious project: the 150 million m3/year Soreq plant planned for completion in 2013. The Soreq plant will sell desalinated water at a price of just $0.50 per cubic meter.
Beyond Desalination: “Green” Applications for Water Treatment
IDE is currently moving beyond desalination to offer a broad range of environmental applications that foster energy savings as well as the effective treatment and re-use of water. IDE’s current offerings in these areas include highly effective effluent treatment solutions, chemical-free man-made snow technologies, energy-efficient mine cooling solutions, thermal energy storage/electricity load shifting solutions, and advanced heat pumps for district heating/cooling. The Company expects to continuously expand its product offerings in these, and other, eco-focused industrial segments.
In the mid 80's, IDE became part of the ICL Group. In 2000, ICL sold a 50% ownership to the Delek Group. The ICL Group is one of the world’s leading fertilizer and specialty chemicals companies, and Delek - the leading energy & infrastructure group based out of Israel. Both ICL and Delek are publicly-traded companies whose shares are listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.