Group Names Winners of 2012 Water Innovation Prize

March 1, 2012
Two companies that turn wastewater into useable products were among those honored during a recent competition ...

Two companies that turn wastewater into useable products were among those honored during a recent competition focused on promoting innovation in the water treatment market. As an example, the winning firm successfully produced food grade sodium hydroxide from a pulp & paper company’s wastewater.

Imagine H2O, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs to turn water challenges into business opportunities, announced the winners of its third annual Water Innovation Prize on World Water Day, March 22.

Bilexys, a company based in Brisbane, Australia, won the Prize’s Pre-Revenue track while Nexus eWater of Canberra, Australia, and Tusaar Inc. of Lafayette, Colorado, were named runners up. New Sky Energy of Boulder, Colorado, won the Prize’s Early Revenue track.

The winners were chosen from a competitive selection of finalists by Imagine H2O’s judging panel, a group of leading experts and investors in the water sector. Highlighting that business plan innovation is critical to the long-term success of water startups, the winners were selected based on their commercial viability and promise. This year’s prize attracted 50 startups led by serial entrepreneurs, experienced executives and campus engineering programs.

“This year’s Imagine H2O prize finalists represent an impressive and encouraging pool of interesting ideas from around the world. These early-stage companies view wastewater not as waste but as a resource to be economically mined for value such as upgraded water, energy, or products,” said Steven Kloos, Partner at True North Venture Partners and Imagine H2O judge. “Imagine H2O is an enabling innovation platform and I look forward to monitoring the progress of these companies.”

This year’s prize topic was wastewater, with the competition focused on wastewater management, water reuse, treatment, resource recovery, and energy production.

Bilexys ( is developing an alternative manufacturing platform for the production of chemicals and plastics. The company’s process technologies involve bioelectrochemistry and the use of wastewater as the source of its raw materials.

The company’s system biologically converts the organics within wastewater into high-value chemical products, including sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Bilexys is a spin off from the Advanced Water Management Centre at The University of Queensland, and was formed and incubated by UniQuest - one of Australia’s leading technology commercialization companies.

Bilexys has significant operational experience on industrial sites, culminating in the recent operation of a pilot plant at a pulp and paper company, producing food grade sodium hydroxide from their wastewater.

Tusaar, Inc. ( is commercializing a media based technology to remove contaminating heavy-metals from multi-chemical process and wastewater. Using base technology licensed from the University of Colorado-Boulder, the team at Tusaar has developed a media that sequesters over 40 different metals from industrial waters and provides a solution to coal combustion fly ash pond management and related groundwater contamination, a serious problem for coal-fired power plants.

Tusaar media also enables customers to separate toxic waste metals from other hazardous chemicals thereby simplifying disposal and management. Waste volume and related cost reduction of over 95% has been achieved at customer sites leading to payback in less than one year.

Nexus eWater ( harnesses the power of a home’s wastewater stream by converting gray water into near-potable water, while recycling the water’s energy for hot water heating. This decentralized solution allows homeowners to reduce water use and reduce their carbon footprint by internalizing water heating costs. The executive team includes the former CEO co-founder of ADS Water and the former VP of Perpetual Water.

New Sky Energy ( employs a chemical process that combines CO2 and industrial wastewater to make usable CO2-negative solids. This process allows customers to profitably reduce CO2 emissions while manufacturing onsite the chemicals they use every day. New Sky’s CEO, Deane Little, is a PhD molecular biophysicist.

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