Aqua-Chem’s position of world leadership in water technologies began in 1929 when entrepreneur-engineer John Cleaver joined forces with businessman Raymond Brooks to provide the industry’s first “packaged” boiler system. Gone were the days buying separate components and assembling a system one piece at a time.
In 1943, the US Government commissioned Aqua-Chem to design and build a mobile distillation unit for military troops in the Pacific. The still converted seawater and brackish well water into 1,000 gallons of purified drinking water per day. While this was an impressive rate for the time, the still’s mobility is what made it unique.
In 1951, Aqua-Chem designed and produced a seawater desalinating system for the Army. This project formalized the "package" concept of water purification systems in which all the necessary components were engineered and assembled into one system, including pumps, valves, steam compressors and plate evaporators, as well as filter components. The system could be fully operable merely by making electrical and piping connections.
In the 1960s, Aqua-Chem developed a factory assembled, packaged Spray-Film® vapor compression technology. This technology is capable of producing the purity levels needed by the most demanding applications. Today, Spray-Film® vapor compression is a cornerstone of the Company's products sold to the offshore, pharmaceutical/biotech and bottled water markets.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Company received many patents for desalination and its numerous applications. In part, this was the result of intensive federal government investment in development of water treatment technologies. Over the next decades, government research lessened and industry practices developed in less visible, more proprietary ways, through expertise and practicality in design and fabrication techniques.
Since 2001, Aqua-Chem has launched more than two dozen new products, including increasingly large vapor compression systems, reverse-osmosis water purifiers, pretreatment and sanitary process distribution systems, waste heat plate type evaporators, vacuum vapor compression units and titanium and copper-nickel heat exchangers.