Our Approach to Innovation


Innovation is the solution to many challenges we face to become more sustainable. But many people have rather archaic or obsolete views of innovation. One of the more recent concepts is something called "open innovation". There is a plethora of publications, consultants, and practitioners (me included) in this field. You might reduce this concept, at the peril of being castigated by academics, to the so-called Joy's Law (Bill Joy) "all the smart people don't work for you". Our initial product line for nitrate removal had it's genesis in this basic idea. 


A related innovation concept was taught to me by a wonderful and talented executive at Motorola back in the 1990’s.  This was the Russian theory called TRIZ.  I was captivated by this concept when I first heard it.  But since that time,  I have been able to successfully employ this strategy to guide our search for solutions to water quality problems.  You can find many consulting groups that will teach you and your team how to employ this methodology.  One engaging book is here.


A third concept has its origins in reading the work of the Rocky Mountain Institute (Amory Lovins) called “tunneling through cost barrier”.  Check out chapter six in the book Natural Capitalism.  Amory Lovins demonstrated the design principles in achieving a net-zero energy home when building his home in Colorado. At the time,  the US building industry was somewhat dismissive.  But now (2021),  we routinely build net-zero homes and renovate older homes.



Agriculture's water problems include nutrients, salt, and water re-use

Innovation is about problem-solving: often you have to look outside your primary area of knowledge

Our Focus-  Agricultural water and wastewater


Our focus at Tailwater Systems is on agriculture and its water problem(s). Currently we are hard at work innovating on three basic challenges: 1) nutrient contamination of water resources, 2) increasing salinization, 3) lack of water re-use and recycling. 


Some things we already know:

1. high pressure membrane filtration will not solve our problems and creates a concentrated brine that has its own disposal problems.

2. tech intensive solutions like forward osmosis and others are expensive and challenging to implement (at this time) and non-selective.

3. lack of interest in using natural systems or even hybrid natural/tech system to solve some of these challenges.

Our Product Strategy


Our application of the three innovation concepts mentioned earlier has led us to some very unusual product development pathways.   Lets see if you can figure out how the following areas we uncovered are related to our product strategy:


  1. Bauxite mining

  2. Pine Cones

  3. Boiler cleaning

  4. PVC Pipe manufacturing

  5. Volcanic rocks

  6. Kids modeling clay

  7. 16th Century Venetian glass industry

  8.  Ancient crops from the Andes Mountains

  9.  Certain types of fruit

  10.  Biodiesel manufacturing processing

  11.  Food waste

  12.  River mud

  13.  Rust (e.g. iron oxide)


Contact us to learn more about new products and how they employ a wide variety of natural resources and upcycled waste materials.

At the surface,  none of these concepts seem related to our product strategy in any meaningful way. But they are:  can you figure it out?