GE, NRG, ConocoPhillips invest in Israeli wastewater startup

Summary:Energy Technology Ventures will invest in Emefcy, an Israeli company that specializes in generating electricity from wastewater treatment.

Energy Technology Ventures, a joint venture by GE, NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips, announced on Tuesday that it will make an unspecified investment in Emefcy, a three-year-old Israeli company that specializes in generating electricity from wastewater treatment.

The investment is the venture's first outside the United States, and will be used by the company to scale its tech for municipal and industrial applications. ETV was joined by Pond Venture Partners, Plan B Ventures and Israel Cleantech Ventures.

Emefcy's technology uses an electrogenic bioreactor (filled with naturally occurring bacteria) to treat wastewater. The organic material in the leftover waste can be used to produce power and thus treat water.

Interest in the firm stems from the fact that conventional wastewater treatment using aerobic or anaerobic digestion is a very expensive, energy-intensive and carbon-intensive process. Emefcy's tech turns this on its head, and leaves room for the operator to put power back on the grid.

Conventional wastewater treatment uses 2 percent of global power capacity and costs $40 billion per year, according to the companies.

Initial applications for the technology is to treat wastewater in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The companies estimate the annual market potential for these applications to be $10 billion; wastewater treatment is a $100 billion industry.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

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Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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