4Earth is the dynamic Atlanta-based tech start-up redefining water treatment. CEO, engineerand entrepreneur Jahanzeb Khan, discusses innovating an industry
Writer: Phoebe Harper
From MMA fighter to a qualified engineer and entrepreneur, Jahanzeb Khan has turned his hand to many things.
Now, as the founder and CEO of water technology start-up 4Earth, Khan and his team are reinventing worldwide water treatment through designing, manufacturing, and operating smart and modular solutions centered on water sustainability and membrane technology.
Despite the juxtaposition of these two career choices, an overarching concern and awareness of the global water crisis applied to both for Khan.
“I took the path of an MMA fighter to indirectly help solve the water crisis. My goal was to make it to the UFC, become the champion at 145 lbs, and utilize my resources and platform to help people around the world with water,” he recalls.
After having to withdraw from a championship, Khan pursued a more direct approach, embarking on studies at Georgia Tech. Here, he encountered ongoing research in water treatment and began working with experienced people in the water industry, using cutting edge technology with tech manufacturers and utilities.
“This is where I began my journey researching innovative ways to tackle the global water crisis.”
Soon, the seeds were planted in Khan’s head, and the start-up that would become 4Earth began to take shape.
“I realized that water industry problems can be broken into two parts: firstly - developed nations that need more sustainable, user-friendly and low risk treatment technologies, and secondly - developing nations that do not have any water infrastructure and cannot build large centralized water treatment plants.
“After years of working as an engineer on research pilot projects and helping build start-ups, I decided to create my own. I put together a great team of engineers, manufacturers and business operation personnel that could design, build and operate what we believe is the next generation of decentralized water treatment technologies.”
With solutions for both developed and developing nations, today, 4Earth is moving into international markets including Mexico, the MENA region, Africa and Europe, delivering projects that cover drinking water treatment, industrial wastewater reuse and smart city water systems.
“Soon we will also be announcing our first two non-fungible tokens (NFT) projects, which will allow us to leverage NFTs to fund projects in communities that lack access to safe water.
“Our second collection will be exhibited in India at the Utopian Dystopia exhibition in February 2022,” he tells us.
On home shores, for the past eight months, 4Earth has been engaged in the successful operation of its pilot project in the City of Atlanta, which produces clean drinking water. Khan also cites an exciting upcoming project to be hosted at The Water Tower in GwinnettCounty, GA, which will feature the company’s next-gen product.
With such an influx of successful and upcoming projects, it is the 4Earth technology that is the defining factor behind the young company’s dynamic growth.
“Water treatment technology should be easily implemented, simple to use, cost-effective and not have an adverse impact on climate change. We are addressing these matters by designing and manufacturing smart and modular water treatment tech that is pre-built in modified shipping containers for plug-and-play capability,” Khan explains.
4Earth utilizes a treatment process designed using first-principles to select the simplest physical-based treatment solutions, avoiding unnecessary chemical use. Membrane technology is at the core of this method, acting as a semipermeable barrier to remove contaminants from water.
The company’s technological prowess is evidenced by the development of software designed to optimize processes by incorporating energy use, water quality, and membrane parameters. The accessible user-friendly technology of the systems is also an industry-first.
“Plant operators should find it very easy to use and maintain our systems. We have a saying: ‘it should take minutes to train an operator how to use our tech…not weeks!’”
Indeed, 4Earth champions highly accessible, easy-to-use systems, contributing to a holistic vision of the treatment of water.
“Our tech should be appreciated by more than just water professionals. An artist, a scientist, an engineer, a teacher, a firefighter and many more should be able to appreciate our systems. The value of water needs to be communicated more,” Khan comments.
The system operations of 4Earth’s designs rely on the easy integration of renewable energy for reduced environmental impact and to ensure they can function in areas that lack access to electricity. For the aforementioned water tower project in Gwinnett County, 4Earth will be using Tesla Solar technology to this end.
Just as water itself is the elixir to conserve all life, the vitality and energy that runs at the core of 4Earth shows no sign of ebbing.
“The key priorities in the coming year are to do a great job with the projects on our plate, raise a seed investment round to scale-up 4Earth, hire more great people that will take our technology, culture and business to the next level, and enjoy every second of the process.
“Solving the global water crisis is a tall order and extremely challenging. You must have an insane amount of optimism and work ethic, but our mentality is: let’s go!”www.4earth.tech