In a sure sign of the clean-tech sector's shifting priorities, a water purification technology company called Puralytics has won the 2010 National Cleantech Open competition.
The Puralytics technology is designed to work by using LEDs or natural sunlight to remove contaminants such as petrochemicals or trace pharmaceuticals from water without creating wastewater or other chemicals that have their own environmental baggage. The Puralytics nanotechnology creates five different photochemical reactions to achieve this. The Cleantech Open prize money of $250,000 will go toward helping establish a following among industrial and commercial facilities. But ultimately, the company has set its sights on small and remote rural communities. Said Puralytics founder Mark Owen, upon winning:
"Water quality is a growing problem in our world today and removing organic contaminants is the greatest unmet need."
It isn't just emerging nations that face a growing water quality and availability challenge. Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an expanded testing program to support the Safe Drinking Water Act. Corporate citizens with a particular interest in creating sustainable water usage policies, include beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have tightened up their water consumption strategies over the past year and the issue promises to become even bigger in 2011.
A report back in July by the Natural Resources Defense Council predicted that one in three U.S. counties -- and 14 states in particular -- will face water shortages by 2050. That date may seem far off, but given the pace of change for most fundamental projects, it isn't surprising that technologies like the one being fielded by Puralytics are of interest to the venture capital community.