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March 2014

From Waste to Win

Waste to energy conversion

How 3 startups are redefining wastewater management.

Burgeoning disruptors flush with new capital, these three startups stand to turn waste into windfalls for customers (and the planet). See how they're flipping traditional wastewater management on its head - and doing it for less.

Axine Water Technologies: A promising Canadian upstart, Axine provides a one-step process to efficiently treat industrial wastewater – often high in toxic inorganics and ammonia - allowing it to be safely recycled. Unlike conventional water treatment methods, Axine's hyper-efficient processing doesn't require supporting electrolytes and won't experience fouling. Impressed? You're not alone. Axine continues to bolster investment and just completed a capital raise of $5.6 million CAD ($5.1 million USD) from The Roda Group, Chrsaliz Energy Ventures, and BDC Venture Capital.

Gradek Energy: Fellow Canadian startup, Gradek Energy feeds another niche with a unique approach to processing wastewater from oil sands production. Gradek’s core technology, Re-usable Hydrocarbon Sorbent (RHS)](, uses penny-sized beads that attract hydrocarbons like a magnet, while simultaneously repelling water. In turn, allowing the RHS to recover oil from polluted steams and rivers, leaving clean fresh water behind. A promising new technology, Gradek Energy announced plans to open its first commercial demo plant as early as June 2015.

Cambrian Innovation: Last but not least is Cambrian Innovation. Initially fueled by a NASA grant, the startup was officially founded in 2006 by an MIT brain trust looking to cut energy usage during wastewater treatment. Cambrian Innovation’s flagship product, EcoVolt, uses ‘electromethanogenesis’ to create a significant amount of energy to offset the initial energy spent. Offering a scalable, cost-effective solution the company claims will provide customers with full return on their investments in five short years.

By Remi Dalton

Smart Grid Savings Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Smart Grid Savings Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Highlights from SGCC’s Dead Simple Consumer Education Program.

What’s a major obstacle to wider smart grid adoption? Consumer education. Yes, there’s ample information available online, but few programs break smart grid technology down into plain English.

Enter the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) and their no-nonsense educational site: WhatIsSmartGrid.Org. The site not only serves up Smart Grid 101 and local energy resources, but showcases real-world success stories and benefits illustrated through a series of interactive graphics.

Throughout its arsenal of educational tools, the SGCC always goes back to the basics. Case in point this oft-cited definition of the modern smart grid, saying:

“The smart grid is the evolution of our current electrical grid, using new technology to optimize the conservation and delivery of power.”

The definition (like the site) is purposefully simplified, hoping to reach the over 50% of U.S. consumers who claim they've never heard of the smart grid.

Their mission clear, SGCC is setting out to educate the public, using the new site to make energy efficiency interesting and easy to adopt through options like their e-learning center or drop-down menus for state-wide smart grid programs.

To make the data more real and strike a chord with consumers, SGCC also channels more complicated energy projections into these memorable sound bites:

  • By 2030, the smart grid promises to improve the current system by 9%, saving roughly 400 billion kilowatt-hours each year in the U.S.
  • The potential efficiency improvements could save enough energy to air-condition 378,000,000 homes.
  • This energy savings generated could also power the entire city of Vegas, 207 times over.

The site’s central focus is providing consumers with a single resource to find and share information, as well as staying current on efficiency programs in their regions.

This approach is a good reminder to marketers, startups and smart grid advocates of the power of simplicity in messaging. SGCC’s goal: make the smart grid approachable. Their impact: promoting every-day adoption and spurring consumer demand for more smart grid initiatives in their area.

Find out more on the SGCC’s new site and scroll down their page to find smart grid management programs in your state.

By Gretchen Fitzgibbons