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SwissINSO Holding Inc. is a renewable energy company bringing to market two advanced technology products, one to solve the drinking water problem in developing countries and remote areas, and the other using exclusive, state-of-the-art nano-composite solar coating technology to cool and heat buildings via solar-collector glass facade panels
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Green Tech - 100% Solar Solutions
Water Purification and Desalination
About: SwissINSO Holding Inc. (OTCBB.SWHN)
590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10022
NY: +1 (212)
+41 (21) 693-8640
SwissINSO utilizes its leading-edge 100% solar technologies to provide environmentally-friendly solutions to meet growing global needs. The company's goal is to become a world leader in turn-key solutions using renewable energy for the purification and desalination of water, and for cooling and heating of buildings.
SwissINSO currently has two core businesses:
KRYSTALL™ is the world’s first high-volume, 100% solar-powered turnkey water purification system housed within two standard 40-ft. containers. Easily transportable, Krystall uses patented reverse-osmosis technology to purify daily 25,000 gallons (100 cubic meters) of brackish/contaminated water, or to desalinate 12,500 gallons (50 cubic meters) of seawater into high-quality drinking water. Operating and maintenance costs are a fraction of conventional units.
Krystall is perfectly suited for servicing remote towns and villages, hotels, humanitarian and relief situations, and turnkey camps.
uses state-of-the-art nano-composite solar
coating technology, developed exclusively with the Swiss Institute of
Technology (EPFL), to heat and cool buildings via solar-collector glass
façade panels. These colored, glazed thermal “curtain walls” are opaque to
the eye but transparent to sunlight, allowing as much transmission of the
sun’s energy as clear glass. Available in a wide variety of colors and
treatments, these solar panels now offer architects and engineers design
possibilities previously unthinkable.
CE0, Secretary & Director
SwissINSO Holding Inc., New York, NY
+1 (212) 521-4017
SwissINSO S.A., Lausanne, Switzerland
+41 (21) 693 86 40
Yves Ducommun joined SwissINSO in January 2009. From 2003 until 2008, he was President & CEO of Hach Ultra Analytics, a manufacturer of precision sensors and analyzers for monitoring of process quality worldwide in pharma, chemistry, electronics, power and water applications.
From 1998 until 2002, he was VP, R&D & Operations and then CEO of Orbisphere, a manufacturer of precision sensors and analyzers to measure dissolved gases in industrial processes, with 500 employees, annual turnover of $120 million, 25% EBITDA margins, and 34% annual growth over the last five years. Before that, he was Sales & Marketing Director for Felix Constructions, a Swiss-based manufacturer of glazed glass curtain walls for high-rise buildings from 1991 to 1996. On the operations side, Dr. Ducommun set up manufacturing plants in Switzerland and China. He was also an academic/lecturer for 9 years at the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Lausanne.
Dr. Ducommun is a graduate of the Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL), with a degree in Chemical Engineering and a specialization in Solar Energy. He holds a PhD in Applied Sciences in the field of Water Purification Exchange Mechanisms, and an MBA from IFIA Lausanne, Switzerland.
Interview Conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFOinterviews.com, Published: December 17, 2010
Dr. Ducommun: What attracted me to SwissINSO is its focus on using renewable energy for some of the really critical problems of this world, such as the shortage of water. And there’s a drinking-water shortage wherever there’s a large population.
There’s also the problem of how to work comfortably in very hot offices and schools, which means a need for air-cooling. These two areas requiring “green” solutions led me to be very enthusiastic about joining SwissINSO and its founder Michel Gruering, to create answers to these problems which we’re now proud to bring to the world.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your two product areas?
Dr. Ducommun: There are two components to our business, the Krystall water purification units and the Klymaa cooling and heating system, both functioning exclusively via solar energy. Let me first present Krystall, I’ll return to Klymaa later.
Krystall was launched last summer and we just signed our first Algerian sales contract. We’re traveling worldwide to sell these units to governments, distributors and NGOs. Krystall is particularly well-adapted for remote areas that have no direct access to electrical grid power, or for those with intermittent electric power.
A Krystall water purification unit consists of two 40-ft containers housing a turn-key water purification system that using reverse osmosis to produce perfectly pure drinking water in large quantities: 12,500 to 25,000 gallons (50 to 100 cubic meters) per day. This is accomplished without any extra energy source other than the power of the sun.
CEOCFO: What are people using today in these areas, and how is your offering better?
Dr. Ducommun: In many of these areas, people don’t have access to clean drinking water, so the water is supplied either by barges, containers on trucks, or with plastic bottles or jugs at a very high cost for water of generally bad quality. In addition, this is in very limited quantities, whereas one of our units can supply daily pure water for about 10,000 people. So that makes a big difference to their everyday life.
CEOCFO: What is it that allows the purification process to take place?
Dr. Ducommun: We use a patented system of reverse osmosis, which not only extracts the suspended solids, but everything else which is dissolved in the water -- like pesticides, bacteria, insecticides, heavy metals, pollutants of any kind -- and makes this water totally pure and safe to drink. The fact that we use a very different purification system from anyone else allows us to do it using much less energy. Since we use the sun’s energy, we don’t need fossil fuels. And because our system is very efficient compared to other water-cleaning processes, we use fewer of the costly photovoltaic panels for sun collection.
CEOCFO: To whom are you marketing?
Dr. Ducommun: Our customers range from governments or governmental bodies, local authorities, autonomous communities, to NGOs. These are the main social or humanitarian customers, but we also target NGO’s and armies specifically engaged in catastrophe relief. We can quickly bring in the water purification units to remote areas after a disaster like the Asian tsunami, the Haitian earthquake or the Pakistan floods. The Krystall units can be operational in a few days because they don’t require any infrastructure. It’s just two containers and you assemble the structure over them in about two days. Then you turn the key and the system produces up to 25,000 gallons per day of clean, safe water for the local populations.
We can also add a third container for a bottling line, where plastic bottles are blow-molded, filled with the water that has just been purified, capped and labeled. It can produce about 30,000 bottles of water a day, which then can be sold by local entrepreneurs to create a business that can actually provide water at a much lower cost than if they import or distribute third-party bottled water.
There’s also an important opportunity for SwissINSO with hotels or resorts, both inland or on the seashore, especially where there is no adequate clean water. The water source can be seawater or brackish from a well. And the purified water provided by the Krystall unit, combined with the bottling line, represents a savings to the hotel for the water it puts at your bedside, or sells, and the “green” label will no doubt attract more environmentally-conscious clients.
CEOCFO: Are any of the potential entities that you deal with aware of you today?
Dr. Ducommun: We’re beginning to get significant awareness through our growing participation and sponsoring of targeted trade shows and conferences. We were honored to be invited as an “official observer” at the recent UN Convention on Climate Change in Cancun. We were also a sponsor of the World Climate Summit, a parallel event in Cancun, as well as an exhibitor at the Green Solutions trade show, which immediately followed. We also participated at recent trade shows in Singapore and Lyon, France. Importantly, we are well on our way to getting product accreditation by organizations such as the UN, World Bank and NGOs.
CEOCFO: Which is your first target?
Dr. Ducommun: We are working on several fronts simultaneously -- direct sales to private or governmental clients in targeted countries, or reaching them through a distribution network. These distributors are a key part of our business strategy. Because they are in the country, they know the needs and expectations of the people there. They are also an important element of after-sale service, so that we can service our customers locally in a high quality and quick manner.
CEOCFO: What else are you working on?
Dr. Ducommun: The second part of our business, the Klymaa solar-powered cooling and heating system, comes from exclusive technology developed in conjunction with the Laboratory for Solar Energy (LESO) at the Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, representing the work of two PhD’s over the past 8 years.
State-of-the-art nano-composite solar coating technology is used to imperceptibly coat several layers onto glass -- almost embedded into the glass. These solar-collector panels are opaque to the eye but allow as much transmission of the sun’s energy as clear glass. This opaque glass, in a wide variety of colors and textures, can now be used as the front face of a solar thermal collector, using the circulation of water heated by solar energy to provide cooling or heating of the building.
This is a significant breakthrough because, until now, standard thermal collectors had to have unattractive black glass panels to hide the guts of the solar captor, yet still be able to capture the sun’s energy, so they could only be used hidden on a building roof but not next to a high-rise. And the amount of energy that you can produce via these black panels using existing captors on is very limited.
In contrast, the Klymaa colored façade thermal solar captors can be used as the outside envelope of a building with the same efficiency of the solar collector as if it was transparent. Architects can now use the Klymaa colored, glazed thermal “curtain wall” facades creatively to cover the parts of the building that are not windows, the “spandrel panels”, and, therefore, have a large proportion of the building envelope collect the sun’s energy.
The energy for air-conditioning or heating a building is produced through the glass “curtain wall” without recourse to fossil energy. SwissINSO does not just provide the coated glass -- we offer a turnkey solution that integrates the whole system by working with the building owner and architect to insert this technology at an early stage of the project to optimize the energy consumption of the building.
To manufacture Klymaa, we buy the clear glass; we then use a very sophisticated nano-technology process to coat it in successive layers. We then mount the opaque, colored glass onto solar collectors on the site where the building is being constructed. We also control the quality of the installation made by the curtain-wall installer and the air conditioning or the heating contractor.
CEOCFO: How does the cost come into play?
Dr. Ducommun: The only thing I can compare it with is designing a high-rise building clad with traditional enameled glass panels and windows. After these are budgeted for, how much more do I have to spend to get air-conditioning or heating powered through the curtain wall?
My investment in Klymaa panels will only be for those parts of the building receiving sunlight. For the other areas, like the north or shaded sides, I can keep the normal “spandrel” glass panes. The additional cost will be about 15%. It will probably increase the price of the building by, let’s say, a few percentage points. So, how do you balance that extra cost? Well, 60% of the energy of the building is consumed, on average, by air conditioning. That’s high, but a necessary reality. However, if you can supply 60% of the power through solar energy, the payback period is only 4 to 6 years and, after that, you continue to save energy dollars over the lifetime of the building. Moreover, you can claim carbon credits that can be traded on the carbon credit market.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the new plant you recently opened?
Dr. Ducommun: We will be sharing a large facility with another company in the curtain wall industry which has excess space. It’s a fully-equipped plant with infrastructure and logistics needed for lifting containers, and sufficient capacity for building enough units to follow the order rate that we’re expecting.
We’ve also recently moved our headquarters to the R&D Science Park at the Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL), the Swiss “Silicon Valley”, which will allow us to work within this scientific community of 300 laboratories, 4000 researchers and 7000 students. Another important move was a major expansion in production capacity for the Krystall water purification units. The new plant in Denges, close to our new headquarters, allows for simplified logistics, direct control of the production cycle, and reductions in delivery time. Furthermore, we can easily expand this significantly larger production site once we reach capacity.
CEOCFO: Do you do much investor outreach?
Dr. Ducommun: We’re a public company listed on the NASDAQ secondary market and thus we always try to keep our investors aware of SwissINSO progress. We’ve just recently updated our website to create a platform that more easily communicates the technical aspects and customer benefits of our products. We also have a solid PR program in place to make sure that word of our products and successes reaches our various target audiences.
CEOCFO: Why should potential investors look at SwissINSO?
Dr. Ducommun: SwissINSO represents enormous potential because our company’s focus is to deliver products based on advanced and exclusive technology using 100% solar energy. Krystall’s proprietary water purification system easily brings safe drinking water, at a very attractive price with low operating cost, to a population that is struggling to get it. And Klymaa produces energy from the curtain wall of a building, with a technical lead-time of several years. Most of our investors are interested in supporting long-term renewable energy and sustainable development and look at investments for the longer term to help preserve the ecological balance of our world. These are subjects of enormous interest to both the government and private sectors and so we feel that an investor in the SwissINSO will be rewarded for supporting these kinds of business activities.
CEOCFO: You made several references to “EPFL”. Would you explain what that is and what it means for SwissINSO?
Dr. Ducommun: The “Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne“, or EPFL, is one of the most prestigious high-tech institutes in Europe if not the world. The Laboratory for Solar Energy (LESO) at EPFL is the only laboratory in the world working on nano-technologies associated with solar energy and therefore has a huge advance in that field. SwissINSO has very close ties to EPFL and LESO and is proud to have financed a post-doctoral scientist and a doctorate student as part of its commitment to practical applications of advanced solar energy technology.
This has enabled us to have exclusive rights to all the industrial applications of opaque Solar Thermal Collectors, a continuous flow of new product developments, and access to very skilled research and development people for our company.
CEOCFO: So to sum it up; it seems that you are ready to hit the ground running?
Dr. Ducommun: I think it’s fair to say we’ve already hit the ground. We’re very busy negotiating the first contracts and signing up the distributors, getting ourselves registered in the NGOs supply chain, and those kinds of fundamentals. So we really are up and running.
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What attracted me to SwissINSO is its focus on using renewable energy for some of the really critical problems of this world, such as the shortage of water. And there’s a drinking-water shortage wherever there’s a large population.
There’s also the problem of how to work comfortably in very hot offices and schools, which means a need for air-cooling. These two areas requiring “green” solutions led me to be very enthusiastic about joining SwissINSO and its founder Michel Gruering, to create answers to these problems which we’re now proud to bring to the world. - Dr. Yves Ducommun
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