“Top-quality bourbon needs top-quality water,” he said. “To quote one of our partners, ‘We’re a water-treatment company that also sells bourbon.’”
Meanwhile, Searen representatives noted the nation faces increasing demand for a limited resource, clean water. And current wastewater-treatment processes “are outdated, complex, expensive, and energy-intensive,” according to their presentation.
Searen’s water-cleaning process, a vacuum-air-lift, “is a multi-function device that cleans water using low energy,” the company announced. A vacuum pump draws water up a small tower, and bubbles rise in the tower, they cause extraction of wastes, gases and solids into a tank that discharges them from the system, leaving the clean water.
Using the forces of atmospheric pressure and gravity, the energy-efficient process.
Searen’s first market aim is farm-raised fish.
Antony Seppi of the Hamilton Mill and Pipeline H2O programs, said one of the water-tech program’s slogans is “Pilot locally, deploy globally.”
Aside for a chance at the two $25,000 prizes, the program helped the five businesses and one non-profit organization to hone their presentation skills, work with mentors and work with companies and utilities that could help improve their products.
The Pipeline program put companies in touch with food and beverage companies, such as Pepsi, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and with utilities in the region, including those at the city of Hamilton, in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The firms also met with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation for assistance.
In addition to helping the businesses grow, their products can help create “smarter cities, more efficient cities,” Seppi said.
The winners of the $25,000 prizes were chosen in a unique way: Over the course of about 15 weeks, the participating six businesses ranked their competition in six categories, which were weighted. The two winners were the ones with highest scores.
Several of the six groups not only have the potential to make money, but they also have the ability to improve people’s lives.
- AguaClara, based in Ithaca, N.Y., a non-profit, builds municipal-sized water treatment facilities in poor countries such as Honduras and India.
- ANDalyze, of Champaign, Ill., has created devices that can test for heavy metals and other dangerous contaminants in water. Rather than taking weeks and hundreds of dollars per sample, its hand-held devices can test water for the contaminants in less than a minute for about $6.
- kWRiver Hydroelectric, based in Hamilton, has developed hydroelectric facilities that can be used at low-level dams, like the one on the Great Miami River south of downtown Hamilton, to produce environmentally friendly electricity.
- And WaterStep, based in Louisville, Ky., has developed a compact "Water on Wheels" unit that provides rapid-response water-cleaning that's needed in disasters and emergencies, where water is at a premium.