AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Feb. 23, 2023 (PRNewswire) — Aquafortus, a water technology company that purifies high-salinity brines and derives valuable metals and minerals from them in the process, has announced the closing of a $17 million oversubscribed Series A1 financing led by DCVC and Novo Holdings, and joined by Universal Materials Incubator, Intrepid Financial Partners, Envisioning Partners, Burnt Island Ventures, K1W1 and NZGCP.
Until now, brine desalination has been prohibitively expensive: thermal-based evaporation, the most common technology today, is highly energy-intensive. Aquafortus uses a non-thermal, zero-liquid-discharge recovery and crystallization approach that uses 90% less energy, costs 60% less, and turns 98% of high salinity brine into fresh water, while extracting lithium, copper, magnesium salts and other metals and minerals.
"The world must shift toward greater reuse of existing natural resources," said DCVC partner Jason Pontin. "The imperative is most pressing with water: every continent experienced drought last year, and many of the Earth's largest aquifers have tipped toward depletion. DCVC enthusiastically backs Aquafortus because it is the first company to meet the dire environmental need to desalinate the toughest brines effectively and affordably."
Aquafortus targets industries that produce significant volumes of hypersaline water: mining, oil and gas production, chemical manufacturing, and power generation. The Series A1 financing will allow the construction and deployment of a relocatable demonstration unit and commercial pilot across major U.S. oil and gas basins and operators, as well as investment in core research and development.
The world generates a significant volume of industrial wastewater (380 billion m3/year). About 25% of this is hypersaline wastewater — or three times the volume of Lake Mead at its peak.
"We are committed to producing fresh water and precious metals and minerals from brines that are notoriously hard to treat," said Daryl Briggs, CEO, Aquafortus. "We designed our technology to be both highly effective and much less demanding of energy than anything on the market: this combination can significantly improve water availability and critical mineral abundance in many regions across the world."
Aquafortus offers value not just in what its technology delivers, but also in what it prevents. Today, heavy brines are usually disposed of as waste. When they are released into the ocean, they can interfere with the coastal ecology, and their injection into the earth is recognized as a key factor in seismic activity. Brines produced from mining operations are especially expensive to treat, but also contain massive amounts of metals and minerals that can be recovered, not wasted.
Stephen Van Helden, principal, Novo Holdings Equity, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Novo Holdings, said: "The investment in Aquafortus and its innovative technology is in perfect alignment with our purpose at Novo Holdings, which is to improve people's health and the sustainability of society and the planet and to generate attractive long-term returns on the assets of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Aquafortus is reducing water insecurity while improving the environment. I am very excited about our future collaboration and our shared ambition to contribute to a more sustainable planet."
"Aquafortus provides a revolutionary solution for a critical problem facing many industries, particularly energy," said Skip McGee, co-founder and CEO of Intrepid Financial Partners, the leading energy merchant bank. "When we speak to energy executives across the U.S., managing produced water is a top priority. Existing solutions such as saltwater disposal wells and traditional recycling technologies will not be able to meet the challenge. New solutions are essential, and Aquafortus's cost-effective and energy efficient technology for treating water with zero liquid discharge and monetizable mineral extraction is potentially game-changing for the energy industry."
Aquafortus is a New Zealand headquartered technology company that develops and commercialises novel and proprietary minimal energy resource recovery technologies for high total dissolved solids (TDS) waste and process streams. The team at Aquafortus are high-calibre, global experts working to bring the most advanced zero liquid discharge resource recovery technologies to the world.