By Emma H. Peterson

Argonide Corporation is a family-owned business that was founded in 1994 by CEO Fred Tepper. Tepper’s daughter, Cindi, served as Vice President of Marketing in its early years but has since retired. His son-in-law, Raymond Knispel, is now company President. Argonide was originally founded as a research and development company to invest in Nano Powders, eventually leading to the invention of NanoCeram. This reformed the company to focus on water filter manufacturing based upon patented electropositive NanoCeram filtration media. Today, Argonide sells filtration cartridges and systems all over the world, commercially and residentially, across many applications and markets.

Argonide’s best-selling products are the NanoCeram-based technologies, featuring its patented electropositive filter media. NanoCeram has taken the market by storm: “Where most filters separate particles by the mechanisms of sieving, inertial impac­tion, interception, and diffusion, our electro-adhesion capability creates a virtual final barrier against extremely small particulates down to 0.1 micron in size,” Knispel said. “Since most sediments are electronegative, NanoCeram functions like a particle magnet, which results in dirt holding capacity many times greater than standard filtration cartridges.”

In addition, the company’s recent launches include the propri­etary Diatomaceous Earth (DE) media coated with Aluminum Oxide Hydroxide (DEAL) carbon blocks and COOLBLUE technology. Some of Argonide’s DEAL carbon block filters are contaminant specific while some have broad spectrum capability.

“The DEAL blocks are not only capable of attracting and capturing sub-micron particles, but it also retains them with extreme effi­ciency,” Knispel said. “This product is typically used as the final polishing filter in drinking water systems like our COOLBLUE Microbiological Water Purifier System.”

A new line of COOLBLUE has entered the market, tackling the eradication of microplastics that are making rise in drinking water. “Argonide’s products are the final barrier for microplastics,” said Gary Battenburg, Argonide’s development manager and most long-term water professional. He also expressed his excitement to continue developing this technology further and is happy to see people making a bigger priority of ingesting safe water that is good for them.

Solving Difficult Cases with Experience
Argonide encounters a broad range of difficult issues and often receive requests for remediation from contaminants such as lead, nitrate/nitrite, PFASs, MTBE, chloramine, tannin, colloidal sediments, virus, bacteria, cysts, microplastics, etc. When the water contains contaminants that the company’s filtration cannot address, Battenburg is called to draw on his 40 years of experience in the industry to help customers find a solution. Often this means specifying other types of treatment, such as automatic backwash filtration for heavy sediment reduction, oil or petrochemical adsorption, grey water treatment, bottling, food service, sterile water, etc.

“While we don’t offer these other types of treatment, we are happy to help the customer with sourcing these products from qualified providers along with our filtration technology integrated into their system whether it be in primary, secondary, or tertiary stages of the total treatment process,” Knispel said.

“I’m not going to say I’ve done it all, but I bet I’ve come close,” Battenburg said, reflecting on his career path up to this point at Argonide. In his early years, Battenburg went from being a crane operator on the Texas oil fields to being a timber logger based in Oregon. Both being “wishy-washy” jobs with inconsistent hours, Battenburg went on the lookout for something different. There was a woman he conversed with while making a casual purchase at a furniture store in Oregon who would recommend a life-changing career path for him.

“She asked if I had thought about water treatment, and I said, ‘What? Water filters? Give me a break,’ and she says, ‘No, it’s much more than that,’” Battenburg said. After the woman explained more and showed him their projects and products, Battenburg reached out to owner of the company recommended to him, and he was hooked. It was 1982 and he was at a crossroad in his life, so he decided to grab a coin. “Heads: Oregon, tails: water treatment,” Battenburg said, “It came up tails.”

Before joining Argonide, Battenburg was living in Michigan work­ing as an assistant design specialist for a company that focused on sterile water for dialysis. His job was to take problematic or leaky systems and reengineer them back to perfection. “I found out I had a really good aptitude for problem solving. One thing led to another, and I went to work for a major company. Beyond that, work has taken me all over the world. It’s been a fun ride,” Battenburg said. “All I knew about the water business when I began was that it was hot, cold, and ran down a hill. Now with all this technology, anything is possible.”

He was certified as a Water Treatment Specialist by the late Lucious (Lou) Cole of the WQA in 1986. Battenburg started at Argonide on August 4, 2020, but he was already familiar with how the company’s products worked and its offerings because he had been using and specializing its products since 2004. With a background in “making the unusable usable,” his current position as development manager fit him perfectly.

Argonide Staff Leads Its Success
One explanation for Argonide’s ongoing success and well-roundedness lies in the diversity of its staff. Each key member comes from a unique background, providing a “good blend” for the company. “We have a nuclear physicist, a corporate vice president from the world of sensors and high-tech chemistry, a mergers and acquisitions specialist, an aerospace operations manager, a quality manager that came from yogurt production in South America, and a marketing person who hails from Godiva,” Knispel said. Knispel himself is a legionella reduction specialist in addition to his previous experience from working at NASA in the aerospace industry for 20 years.

On one hand, Battenburg plans to retire in the near future, but on the other hand, he’s having “too much fun.” “When I got into water, I knew I had found my career. It’s been phenomenal and I continue to learn every day,” he said. Either way, his expertise and influence will guide the company for years to come. With 12 great minds under one roof, there is no limit to what Argonide can accomplish.

The Next Level for Argonide
Argonide’s next move is to infiltrate the economy of scale that the “large players” inhabit. The company plans to combine NanoCeram and DEAL technologies with collaborators to create even more enhanced filtration systems, ultimately resulting in new products and broader market entries. Among these collaborations include Toller Manufacturers helping to produce an improved DEAL carbon block, which will have a profound expansion of Argonide technology presence in the marketplace, the company pairing with NEXT filtration to provide for all the benefits of NanoCeram with the bonus advantage of treating for scale, and its collaboration with Omnipure, which has resulted in encapsulated products that should penetrate into the food and beverage industry and health markets.

“We’re not one of the big guys, but when you consider the prob­lems associated with water globally, we sell all over the world,” Battenburg said. “The problems are not going to go away; they are only going to get worse. So, we take a very special approach, testing everything to make sure it meets our requirements, which will automatically meet the requirements of the consumer because they’re going to be tested and certified.” It is generally believed by those in Argonide that consolidation and chasing newer contaminants such as PFOS/PFAS is a certainty for the future of the water industry.

“With emerging contaminants of concern, our industry will be relied upon to develop, test, and certify water purification tech­nologies that meet the demands for high quality, purified life support water for the consumer and available in point-of-use, portable/travel bottles, and point-of entry, and other configura­tions to meet various needs both on a national and global level,” Knispel said. As for Argonide, expansion is expected as they continue to be driven by the rise of these new contaminants and the determination to eliminate them from the consumer’s homes for a healthier, safer future.

About the author
Emma H. Peterson, author of WC&P International’s corporate and dealer profile series, is a student at the University of Arizona, majoring in journalism, with a minor in natural resources. Throughout her college experience, she has developed a following for her photography and photojournalism endeavors. After graduation, Peterson intends to broadly expand her creative/ feature writing and photography prospects, as well as pursue her personal interests in skiing and rock climbing.

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