Over the past year, there has been heightened attention across corporate America to water conservation and water management initiatives. The irony is that some of the advanced technologies for addressing our global water problems exacerbate another problem: our need to get wiser about how we use energy. Enter the 3 winners of the latest Imagine H20 contest, companies that all combine water management sensibilities with energy-savings or energy-generation concepts. More than 50 teams submitted ideas for the 2010 Water-Energy Nexus Prize. Here are the 3 entrepreneurial companies that got special kudos, along with a chunk from the $100,000 pot to help fund their prizes.
Hydrovolts (First Place)
The focus of this Seattle-based startup is using a floating turbine to create energy from water currents, anywhere from 1 kilowatt to 25 kilowatt per turbine. The technology can be added to existing waterways, including irrigation districts, water treatment facilities, thermal cooling discharge streams and so on. You need a small boat to set up the turbine, which can be delivered to sites via a shipping container. You can watch some of its "flip-wing" turbines in action on the Hydrovolts YouTube channel.
The embedded video is a bit of a demo:
Said Hydrovolts CEO Burt Hammer: "Canals are an untapped energy resource, and they are essentially the same around the world so we expect to expand our impact rapidly."
Blackgold Biofuels (Runner-up)
The premise of this company, based in Philadelphia, is to take the stuff that would normally clog a sewer -- especially greases, oils and fats -- and turn it into ASTM biodiesel. Its system is called FOG-to-Fuel, and the company pitches utility cost-savings, carbon footprint reductions and increased energy security as among its business benefits.
This company from Oakland, Cali., is also focused on the FOG (fats, oil, grease) challenge: keeping this junk out of wastewater. It counts some pretty massive companies, including Cadbury and United Biscuits, among its customers.
Here's a video primer: