The Future is Here: Aqualyst's Member Companies Ready to Deploy Their Innovative Water Tech Solutions
Between the idea and the reality; between the motion and the act, falls the shadow. –T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
PureBlue is a nonprofit organization committed to bringing critically needed innovations in water technology into the marketplace. It recognizes that the gap between the idea and the reality, between imagining an innovative product and taking it to market, can be daunting for any inventor or entrepreneur. According to a Gompers and Lerner study, 90 percent of new ventures that don’t attract investors fail within the first three years. Professional investors want a proven business model -- ready to scale -- before they invest.
For early to mid-stage “blue tech” companies (shorthand for the entrepreneurs and inventors who are leading in finding solutions for the world’s need for clean water), PureBlue can help bridge that gap.
PureBlue’s sister organization Aqualyst LLC is a business and technology catalyst that translates PureBlue’s mission into individual solutions by working directly with entrepreneurs, startups and small companies to help move them through what are traditional valleys of death for blue tech startups.
Aqualyst first identifies companies that are:
- Working on a problem that is critical for sustainable systems;
- Have a solution with a high value proposition for that problem;
- Have the initial resources and business model to be successful if assisted at this inflection point.
Aqualyst then collaborates with the companies to provide mentors, experts and improved access to resources, stakeholders and customers.
Aqualyst recently welcomed its second cohort of innovative blue tech businesses.
Aqualyst received 44 applicants for its second cohort of startups. Over three rounds, water experts, Aqualyst’s core team, and investors rigorously reviewed the companies. When the dust settled, these six worthy companies emerged as Aqualyst Cohort 2.
Real-Time Water Quality Sensors
Problem: Water is essential to our lives, our environment, and the economic health of our communities. It is our most precious resource. Despite this, our ability to monitor the quality of our water assets is expensive, complex, and time intensive. The status quo is mailing water samples to a lab and waiting days or weeks for the results. Critical real time decisions that affect quality, quantity, conservation, and reuse need real time information. A new generation of companies are working to bring rapid sensors to the marketplace. Meet two companies with powerful chemical-specific sensors:
Solution: FREDsense utilizes customizable bacteria that can provide ultra-sensitive measurements of trace chemicals in a water sample (down to 1 ug/Lppb). Their portable field kits are fast (with results in less than an hour), sensitive and require minimal training to use. FREDsense currently offers sensors for arsenic, iron and manganese. This platform technology can be developed to detect virtually any chemical that interacts with a living organism. They also have a field acidity (acid capacity) kit for mining and related applications.
Solution: ANDalyze has developed a group of new chemical sensors based on DNA technology designed to rapidly detect chemicals in water. The sensors are validated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental technology verification (ETV) process. The sensors can detect trace metals in water as well as other targets including bacteria, viruses and chemicals such as pesticides. One platform is hand-held and can report results in the field within three minutes, ferreting out lead in drinking water, copper in stormwater and uranium in groundwater, among other uses. ANDalyze has also developed an on-line platform that allows for automated measurements that is intended to improve process control at water-treatment facilities and industrial sites. The on-line unit will be released for sale shortly.
Industrial & Municipal Optimization
Problem: Facility operators at water utilities and municipalities make dozens of complex operational decisions based on human judgement and experience every day. Due to the impacts of extreme weather events, increasingly complex process dynamics, failures of aging equipment, and institutional knowledge drain as experienced operators retire, the systems are becoming even more difficult to operate both reliably and efficiently
Solution: EMAGIN uses data and machine learning inside an operational intelligence platform to help water and wastewater treatment plants as well as networks work more reliably and efficiently. EMAGIN's data-driven solution provides operators with real-time, actionable insight to get ahead of dynamic conditions and peak events. In doing so, EMAGIN helps facilities enhance reliability, prepare for emergencies and drive down operational costs upwards of 15 percent.
Problem: 45% of industrial facilities continue to use steam to transfer heat throughout the facility and to perform critical operations. Pulp & paper mills, oil & gas plants, and chemical plants account for 85% of all steam used in the world, and many of these systems were built when water was abundant. Optimization and retro-fitting these systems allows for increased efficiencies that result in lower energy and water footprint for each product. While specialized vendors and consultants exist to help with major facilities upgrades, the “tune-up” specialist is often missing from the picture and needed.
Solution: The team at eSteamG provides end-to-end steam system optimization working directly with plant staff. Focused on cost-effective modifications of the existing systems performed during scheduled periods of plant-wide maintenance, their recommended tune-up components are designed to lower power and water usage and improve steam delivery to critical operations to improve production efficiencies. Many of the older systems that will remain in use for years to come can benefit from critical system upgrades to become more efficient throughout their remaining life cycle.The firm’s systems optimize the steam distribution and condensate return systems and associated processes across pulp and paper, oil and gas, chemical industries and wood products.
Problem: Wastewater treatment prior to discharge or reuse is essential for all municipalities and most industries. The aeration step (supplying oxygen for biological degradation of wastes) is a critical step in most systems, and on average accounts for 57 percent of the energy usage for wastewater treatment. The effectiveness of oxygen transfer is, in turn, a controlling factor of the size of the facilities and their throughput. Cracking the aeration limitation is a critical step in improving wastewater treatment systems.
Solution: MICROrganic has developed the first scaled manufacturing platform for microbial fuel cells (MFCs). The platform uses naturally electrogenic microbes to treat wastewater, reduce sludge and remediate nitrogen and phosphorus, while generating excess direct-current electricity. VIVA completely eliminates aeration, its cost, and associated greenhouse gases from wastewater treatment. This platform technology is also suitable for wastewater desalination, waste-to-energy, nutrient and ionized metals removal, septic treatment and basic sanitation. The technology can be installed in new facilities or retrofitted to existing infrastructure.
Problem: Increased rainfall and urbanization are intensifying stormwater runoff, which aggravates not only flooding but also water pollution and environmental degradation from excess nutrients and metals. Stricter regulation, including EPA-Municipal Stormwater Permits and increased fines like Combined Sewer Overflow are driving cities to explore novel stormwater solutions.
Solution: PaverGuide™ is a structural base for paving systems that is installed faster and cheaper than the stone it replaces, and at 90 percent void, provides a massive rainwater reservoir and expansive infiltration surface. The company is also piloting a complimentary structural filtration media. Early testing of the media is promising and shows it can remove 89% of phosphorous, 74% of zinc, and 55% of copper. The PaverGuide permeable pavement system and filtration media offer municipalities, developers, and landscape architects a low-cost tool for improving stormwater quantity and quality.
eSteamG team strategizes with their mentor Jeff Cox, left.
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