A new Israeli company's film-like polymer sheet with tiny holes in it may soon have the water industry shouting “Eureka!” from all corners of the globe as water treatment is about to undergo a complete overhaul.
Israeli startup Advanced Mem-Tech
makes advanced membranes that keep away bacteria, microbes and parasites in desalination pre-treatment, wastewater treatment or water treatment in general.
Mem-Tech's "high permeability" product makes a smaller footprint because its membranes take up less area and it consumes less energy because less pressure is needed.
"Because of the polymer of our membrane, you can process more water with less pressure," says Maura Rosenfeld, VP for business development. "Less energy is needed to pump the water through, fewer membranes are required and there are less capital and operating expenses. Any time the system is smaller, everything can be downscaled."
Game changing technology
What could be a game-changer in water technology started as an idea by two professors at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. They came up with a hydrophilic polymer, a version of polysulfone, and licensed it to Advanced Mem-Tech.
A hydrophilic membrane is different from other membranes on the market because it allows water to pass through much more easily. This membrane is a totally new, innovative product.
"The Technion team was focusing on developing a new membrane that could be a game-changer for the water industry," says Moshe Kelner, CEO of Advanced Mem-Tech. "They were smart enough to realize there was a huge gap between development in the Technion and bringing it to the market."
The company conducted an initial in-house trial, and with results in hand, Kelner – who has 25 years of business and entrepreneurial experience – turned to main players in the industry to gauge interest in the product the Technion professors thought up.
"We said we'll get feedback before we develop it. Working together with industry from day one, getting the right feedback from the industry, from a potential client, and with the knowhow from the Technion, is a major advantage," says Kelner.
Advanced Mem-Tech was founded in September 2010 at the Mofet B’Yehuda Innovation
Accelerator, a technology incubator supported by the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It has its labs in the central Israeli city of Ness Ziona.
A multinational chemicals and polymers company partnered up with the company shortly after its launch.
Advanced Mem-Tech's membrane is just one component within water treatment systems. The firm’s management hopes to partner with providers that can integrate its product into complete filtration solutions.
"We will go to North America, Europe and Asia," says Kelner. "We're already in a process for talking with mega strategic partners who have projects all over the world."
Global demand for ultrafiltration membranes is projected to increase nine percent annually to $19.3 billion in 2015, $1.2 billion of that amount in the United States alone, according to a report by the Freedonia Group
Advanced Mem-Tech hopes to benefit from Israel's leading position in water technology expertise
. "Israel has a very good reputation for water technology. If you're in the US, for example, and you're speaking about water tech, they all agree that Israel has the novelty and knowhow and a very good reputation," says Kelner.
With an eye on becoming the next leader in innovation in the water industry – and with the technology capability to do it – Advanced Mem-Tech is now looking for investors to fund the completion of product selection and scale-up to production.