PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon BEST has awarded a second round of commercialization funding to help advance a floating, solar-activated stormwater treatment device that can be deployed in retaining ponds and ditches to keep contaminants from reaching streams.
Beaverton, Ore. startup Puralytics has been working with Oregon State University researchers for the past year on small-scale testing of the “LilyPad” technology in campus lab spaces affiliated with OSU’s Institute for Water and Watersheds. The test results have been so encouraging that Oregon BEST is funding phase II testing, as well as construction of a new outdoor green stormwater research lab located in Corvallis, Ore.
The new funding will support larger-scale field tests in the OSU-Benton County Green Stormwater Infrastructure Research Facility, which is jointly funded by Oregon BEST, OSU and Benton County. The newly-completed facility is Oregon BEST’s latest shared-user research lab and has three large, outdoor tanks where stormwater can be closely monitored and treatment technologies tested.
“There is tremendous industry interest in the LilyPad, but we currently lack the large-scale field test data to commercialize it appropriately,” said Mark Owen, CEO of Puralytics. “The Oregon BEST program is unique, financing that difficult gap between lab results and scaled validation field trials required to successfully commercialize a technology. The additional funding – combined with the new Oregon BEST stormwater research lab and the expertise of the OSU team – will move the LilyPad from a useful concept with lab testing, to a field tested product ready to deploy.”
Puralytics is working with Tyler Radniecki, OSU assistant professor of environmental engineering, on the phase II testing, which will continue through the 2014-2015 rainy season. Tests will span a range of common environmental contaminants over a range of environmental conditions and define performance guidelines such as maximum water depth and required treatment rates per LilyPad. These tests must be conducted while monitoring parts-per-billion levels of toxic contaminants, and the new Oregon BEST green stormwater lab in conjunction with OSU’s equipment, staff and expertise will enable completion of this testing in collaboration with Puralytics.
“The new green stormwater research facility is very unique, and we’re pleased to be part of this highly collaborative project aimed at addressing the growing issue of clean water supplies,” said Radniecki. “This project benefits everyone involved – our faculty and students learn through real-world research, and Puralytics gets key test data that helps with their product development.”
The LilyPad technology, which resembles a large lily pad and floats just below the surface of standing water, can also be used to pre-treat stormwater, helping reduce overflow situations at municipal treatment facilities during severe weather events.
The technology is based on the company’s SolarBag portable drinking water purification system, which uses a nanotechnology-coated mesh activated by sunlight to purify 3-liter quantities of water in approximately three hours. Puralytics is incorporating the same technology into the LilyPad to treat much larger volumes of water.
The $94,000 award for the additional testing is part of Oregon BEST’s Commercialization Funding Program aimed at speeding commercialization of the state’s most promising clean technologies under development by university researchers and private businesses.
“It’s wonderful to see such positive results from industry-university collaboration,” said Ken Vaughn, Director of Commercialization at Oregon BEST. “As the world’s water needs increase, we’re proud to be helping this Oregon company bring a new clean water technology to market and to be part of establishing a cutting-edge research facility that other companies and agencies can use.”
Puralytics has also received gap funding from the Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) for earlier nanotechnology development work.