Eco Innovator March 2012


Wastewater Innovators In International Prize

Two Australian water innovation companies are finalists in the international US$200,000 Imagine H20 2011 Prize for Water Start-ups.

Canberra based Nexus eWater converts grey water into near-potable water, and recycles its
energy for hot water heating; University of Queensland based Bilexys Pty Ltd biologically converts the organics in wastewater into high-value chemical products.

The Nexus reCycler uses patent pending technology to recycle and recover up to 1,500 litres of domestic grey water per day. It is fully automated, robust and affordable. The heat recovered from the grey water can be used to power hot water systems. Th system can cut water and sewer bills by half.

The Nexus reCycler.

In August last year ANU Connect Ventures awarded Nexus eWater a grant through its new Discovery Translation Fund (DTF). The DTF funding allows Nexus to build a pre-production prototype and demonstrator model to support its target market of new green building projects.

The Fund supports Canberra region projects in healthcare, clean tech recycling, biotechnology, electronics and instrumentation.

Bilexys was formed by UniQuest to commercialize an innovative technology developed at the University of Queensland's Advanced Water Management Centre (AWMC).

Bilexys biologically converts the organics in wastewater into high-value chemical products, including sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. The chemicals produced are potentially less expensive and have a lower CO2i footprint relative to traditional chemical manufacturing techniques. This provides a significant economic and environmental driver for the commercialization and industrial adoption of the technology, says the company.

2011 was the third year the San Francisco-based non-profit organization Imagine H2O has offered the Imagine H20 Prize to encourage entrepreneurs to develop business opportunities from water challenges. The Prize includes cash and in-kind services, including participation in Imagine H2O's Accelerator Program, which aims to commercialize innovative ideas by connecting partners, customers and investors.

The finalists receive technical and financial mentorship from Imagine H2O prior to making a final presentation to the judging panel.

Nexus eWater and Bilexys were the only two Australian and non-US-based finalists in the Pre-revenue Track, where total equity and convertible equity investment to date is under US$1.5 million. The winners from a short-list of nine finalists will be announced on March 20.

Bilexys Business Development Manager, Paul Barrett, said Bilexys' achievement has helped to focus the company on potential overseas industry partners.

"We entered the Imagine H2O Prize because of the exposure it offered as much as for the prospect of winning prize money to further develop the technology for the market," he said.

"The 21 judges assessing Bilexys include cleantech experts and venture capitalists, so to have this panel looking closely at our business plan is a very encouraging step towards building our profile in the US, which makes up the largest share of the global water utilities and wastewater treatment market."

The Bilexys technology is under licence from University of Queensland, with several subsequent patent applications strengthening the intellectual property value for prospective investors and industry partners.

The technology has been taken successfully from the one litre laboratory scale to a fully operational 1,000 litre pilot plant. Bilexys operates a pilot plant at a major Australian pulp and paper company and produces sodium hydroxide from their wastewater.

This latest achievement for Bilexys reflects University of Queensland's strengths in sustainability research leading to economic and environmental returns for a major industrial concern worldwide, said UniQuest managing director, David Henderson.

"The Bilexys commercialization story is a good example of how Australian university research can collaborate with industry and deliver returns on public funding to develop viable applications for scientific discoveries," he said.





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