In a spin on the popular Shark Tank TV show, water entrepreneurs presented their innovations.
Editor's note: TPO Editor Ted Rusleh is attending WEFTEC 2016 in New Orleans. Here are a few of the newsworthy topics from the show floor.
If you’ve watched the popular TV show Shark Tank, then you understand the BREW Tank presentation held at WEFTEC on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
In a program sponsored by BREW Corporate Accelerator, sponsored by The Water Council based in Milwaukee, five entrepreneurs pitched their technology ideas to a panel of industry experts. BREW Corporate aims to accelerate the development of high-caliber startups by combining funding with access to executive-level mentors, corporate research and development and intensive business training.
Startups will compete in a challenge revolving around areas of interest identified by each corporation. Those who show the highest likelihood of solving the challenge are chosen for the program. Here are summaries of the five presentations.
- WISRAN uses machine-mounted sensor, wireless communication and machine learning algorithms to measure the effectiveness of farmers’ field operations, according to founder Arsalan Lodhi. By providing a live view of resource use along with recommendations for improvement, the technology can help farmers achieve up to 30 percent cost reduction, Lodhi said. Farming and wastewater treatment are now intimately connected as clean-water agencies look to reduce phosphorus inputs to waterways by working to reduce nonpoint source pollution in watersheds.
- Meta Materia offers a technology that enhances nutrient removal in wastewater systems, according to Richard Schorr, founder. The company offers BioLair open-porosity ceramics that “supercharge” bioremediation, achieving three to five times faster nutrient removal versus conventional treatment, Schorr said. The company also offers the PO4 sponge, providing huge surface areas for phosphorus capture. The sponges can be cleaned and reused.
- Nutrient Recovery & Upcycling offers a technology that extracts nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater in the form of high-purity fertilizers, according to spokesperson Nimi Ehr. A precipitation process collects phosphorus in the form of calcium phosphate, while a membrane treatment removes nitrogen as an ammonium solution. The nitrogen is most often extracted from filtrate from solids dewatering. The end product can be sold as a liquid fertilizer or as an ingredient in formulated fertilizer products.
- HelioPure, a French startup, promises low-cost water reuse with a process that uses a bio-solar purification process with photosynthetic microorganisms including algae. The only inputs are sunlight and carbon dioxide (for pH adjustment), according to spokesperson Tim Pasqualini. The closed-loop system has minimal water loss and low power consumption. It recovers nutrients as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. Its primary target markets are food processors with high-strength waste streams and large cattle and hog farming operations.
- SofTap offers an innovative approach to residential water softening and for softening of industrial cooling tower makeup water. The system uses a foam-based filtration process that precipitates calcium and magnesium salts from hard water. The open-cell foam material is impregnated with nanoparticles and nanofibers. On the household side, the first cost of a treatment unit is about $100, versus a minimum of $500 for conventional ion-exchange softening; replacement filters cost about $80 per year. On the cooling tower side the technology reduces water discharge by up to 95 percent, according to Pat Hayes, managing director.