AquaMost, Inc. of Madison, WI is bridging the gap between environmentalists and oil drilling advocates with their water cleaning technology, photoelectrocatalytic oxidation (PECO), which purifies water contaminants and promotes a cleaner environment. In collaboration with the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), AquaMost has received SBIR Phase I and II grants to support the development and commercialization of PECO to treat industrial pollution, purify aquarium and aquaculture water, and clean up groundwater contaminated by gasoline leaking from underground storage tanks. AquaMost recently submitted an SBIR Phase I application to the US Department of Energy (DoE).
“Our technology can have a very positive impact, and helps balance the world’s conflicting needs of extracting fossil fuels, and remediating the pollution associated with this activity,” said Terence Barry, Chief Scientific Officer of AquaMost.“Cleaning up water contaminated by oil and gas extraction is a major problem, and our technology is helping with that.”
AquaMost’s technology can also sterilize water used for hydraulic fracturing. Bacteria that enter the well can digest oil and produce chemicals that reduce the value of fossil fuels or damage equipment. AquaMost’s device can reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and increases water conservation, a particularly important benefit in places like Texas with scarce water resources.
AquaMost received an Early Planning micro-grant from WEN (the CTC's prior iteration) in 2007 and has since been awarded close to $1.5 million in federal funding to develop and commercialize their product. “There’s a lot you have to digest quickly when you start a company, so it’s good to have a resource like [the CTC],” said Barry. “SBIR grants are unique in that you need to describe in detail both the technical and commercial aspects of your ideas. Consultants Pat Dillon and David Linz helped us immensely with all of our successful grant applications.”
Currently, there are 15 people working fulltime at AquaMost, and the company is looking to expand after recently proving the capabilities of their commercial-scale devices in the field. “Our technology is part of the solution. You have environmentalists on one side who don’t drill and watch for global warming, and the other side is drill, drill, drill, baby!” said Barry. “You need to take an environmentally sound approach to getting your resources, and we’re part of that movement.”