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Published on February 22nd, 2009 | by Timothy B. Hurst


Engineered Osmosis: Revolutionizing Saltwater Desalination

February 22nd, 2009 by  

pacific ocean from sayulita, nayarit, mexico

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based desalination start up has closed on a $10 million round of funding to develop its proprietary technology to produce clean, potable water from salt water using one tenth the amount of energy used in traditional desalination plants.

As we reported last month, Yale researchers Rob McGinnis and Dr. Menachem Elimelech have developed a proprietary desalination system called Engineered Osmosis that they say could produce clean drinking water from seawater or other wastewater at half the current cost. Now that their new company— Oasys Water—has secured Series A funding, it can proceed with the development of its potentially revolutionary commercial desalination platform.

Company officials claim the Engineered Osmosis (EO) process can produce drinking water at less than half the cost of current desalination methods by eliminating the need the for high-pressures used in modern Reverse Osmosis systems, thereby cutting electricity and fuel demands by more than 90%.

The result is a reduction in the economics of seawater desalination that will ultimately bring the cost of producing water from the ocean below the cost of conventional surface water, such as that used in California’s aquaduct system.

“Water shortages are no longer a ‘far-away’ problem,” said Aaron Mandell, President and CEO of Oasys, in a statement. Mendell noted that the ongoing drought in California, coupled with the fact water production is already the single largest use of California’s electrical grid, makes such developments so timely.

Company officials also see the tremendous potential EO can have in parts of the developing world, where severe water shortages are on the rise, resulting in large-scale political and social conflict. According to the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion of the world’s 6.8 billion people now live in highly water-stressed areas.

“Oasys has developed a truly disruptive technology to address the growing global water crisis,” said Jim Matheson of Flagship Ventures, one of the projects financiers.

As with so many of the promising clean technologies, one only hopes that the excessive demand in global markets does not prevent Engineered Osmosis and other low-energy intensive desalination technologies from getting where they could have the greatest impact.

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.

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