Water specialist AqWise raises $3.6 million

As the Israeli company, whose microbe technology consumes the contaminants in water, grabs another round of funding, its founder looks into fuel cells.

AqWise, which builds condominiums for bacteria, has raised an additional $3.6 million in funding. The founder, though, is toiling in a new venture.

water tech

The company, with which we spoke during a swing through Israel in 2006 (just in time for the outbreak of border hostilities), has created an intricate polymer cylinder that, when placed in wastewater treatment ponds, clusters microbes that consume contaminants. The water can then be safely discarded or used to irrigate fields.

The trick is that the honeycombed cylinder sports a huge amount of surface area for microbes to grow. The greater amount of surface area in the cylinders means that the corresponding size of the treatment pond can be reduced. You can either reduce real estate or increase the amount of water a pond can process. The microbes process contaminants.

It doesn't get as much attention as solar power or transportation fuel, but water-processing technology is a rapidly growing business. Several start-ups have emerged in recent years, and large conglomerates such as General Electric are moving deeper into water and buying some of these companies.

Elad Frenkel is the current CEO. Old CEO and founder Eytan Levy is now with Israel Cleantech Ventures, a venture capital firm. He is also behind Efemcy, a microbial fuel cell company.

In a microbial fuel cell, filthy water or other substances are placed in contact with particular species of microorganisms, which then metabolize the materials. Electrons or fuel can be the byproducts. Synthetic Genomics and a whole bunch of other companies are looking at the same idea.