Eco Innovator March 2012
Wastewater Innovators In International
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
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
The Fund supports Canberra
region projects in healthcare, clean tech recycling, biotechnology, electronics
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,"
"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.