Membrion® is at the forefront of some of the world’s most challenging problems: fresh water, clean energy and human health. The emerging technologies designed to revolutionize these fields all depend on filtering charged molecules, called ions. The need for low cost/high performance ion filters has never been stronger or more urgent.
One only has to look at California to see the potential impact of ion filters on drinking and agricultural water supplies. With annual snowpack deletion and persistent drought fueled by climate change, California (and many other parts of the world) faces fresh water crisis. One of the most viable solutions to this challenge is to purify brackish water through electrodialysis. While the state has 38 times more brackish water than fresh water supplies, and while electrodialysis is less costly than older technologies like reverse osmosis, existing expensive and low performance ion filters have prevented electrodialysis from being widely adopted. Membrion’s low cost/high performance membranes will enable dramatically lower cost solutions to produce potable water for agriculture and urban usage, all while using less energy and creating less waste than existing solutions today.
It’s hard to believe that such small molecules have such a big impact on the world’s future, but they do. Our efforts to bring a unique ion filter to market can materially accelerate a variety of new technologies to improve the lives of humans today and protect the future health of our planet.
Membrion® is a 2016 spin-out from the laboratories of the University of Washington (UW). Commercialization funding from the UW, the Murdock Charitable Trust, Amazon, the National Science Foundation (Award #1831090), the Department of Energy (Award # DE-SC0019554), JCDREAM, and a consortium of California utilities (Rocket Fund) has helped to bridge the translation gap to a commercial product. In total, 14 different funding organizations have evaluated and financially supported Membrion's product development and commercialization plan.
Most recently, that support has translated to private investment by angel and venture capital groups in Series Seed & Series A funding ($7.4M total).
Membrion's technology was developed at the University of Washington by Prof. Lilo Pozzo & Dr. Greg Newbloom. Lilo and Greg have invented numerous technologies together and were committed to thinking differently about membranes from the start. Dr. Newbloom recalls, "Everyone is working on new plastic membranes and it would have taken us a long time to catch up. Instead, we just started brainstorming what a membrane really needed to accomplish. It gave us the opportunity to think really differently." After more than a year of modestly successful prototypes, they started exploring membranes based on silica gel, commonly used as a desiccant in food packaging. As it turns out, it's not just good for keeping your jerky dry! The team now has 15 pending/awarded patents and products in development for water and battery applications. Since 2016, the team has expanded from 2 to 9 and is now fully independent from the UW!
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