Water Innovation

Introduction

Despite being home to a $5 billion water industry and over 300 water innovation companies, Massachusetts bears one of the oldest water infrastructures in the United States. This has led to leaks, contamination, and water main breaks. Innovations in water technology will play an essential role in minimizing the costs and maximizing the efficiency of the necessary renovations.  

The New England area, being home to one of the most diversified and innovative water technology industries in the world, is well-equipped to address these challenges. With our universities, technology & engineering companies, investors, foundations, industrial water users, and leading municipal water utilities, the Commonwealth possesses strong potential to bring world-class water technology innovations and brainpower to U.S. and global markets.

MassCEC encourages the development of the water technology industry by supporting the formation of a water technology industry cluster organization, helping the local industry access global partners and markets, and by providing early funding support for promising water technologies. By utilizing existing grant programs, MassCEC aims to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies in the water market.


                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                 
Figure 1: Water-Energy Nexus - MassCEC supports water innovation because of the interconnectivity of water and energy.

Innovations in water technologies and clean energy are often linked, as energy generation is one of the largest consumers of water. Water and energy work together in almost every form of energy production to provide our cities and towns with the resources we need. The water-energy nexus is the relationship between how much water is used to generate and transmit energy, and how much energy is needed to pump, collect, convey, treat and store water. This relationship is of growing importance to communities, municipalities and governments across the world.

Water-Specific Funding Opportunities

In May 2015, the Commonwealth launched the Water Innovation Trust, with $800,000 of initial funding available for innovative water projects throughout Massachusetts.

In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), MassCEC supports the development of a robust water technology test-bed network and assist municipal wastewater treatment plants in their efforts to adopt energy efficient and innovative water treatment technologies.

Grants were awarded for the Wastewater Treatment Pilot Program and the feasibility studies outlined below.

Wastewater Treatment Pilot Program

This program is designed to encourage the development of innovative wastewater treatment technologies that reduce electricity consumption, cut energy costs for communities and/or improve the treatment process.

While the selected projects under this program are ongoing, the program is not currently accepting new applications. For program information, please visit the program webpage. To be notified about future funding opportunities under this program, sign up for email alerts here.

Feasibility Studies at Water Technology Demonstration Centers

Woodard and Curran, an engineering firm, will complete three different feasibility studies at three potential test bed sites across the Commonwealth to assess the physical condition of each site (electrical, mechanical, structural, etc.) and develop gross estimates of the capital costs needed for facility rehabilitation to support industry research efforts. Additionally, these studies will provide potential revenue models and potential for sustainable business from the water technology community.

The three sites tested are:

  • The Massachusetts Alternative Septic Testing Center (MASSTC) in Barnstable County on Cape Cod is currently operational. The purpose of this feasibility study is to assess the facility’s potential for an increase in septic system technology testing and larger wastewater flows. This study is primarily investigating the sustainability and personnel of the testing center;
  • The UMass Amherst Wastewater Pilot Plant in Amherst, MA is capable of testing many kinds of wastewater treatment technologies and is interested in promoting collaboration between student and faculty research and innovation in the industry. This feasibility study will also provide insight for a new wastewater testing building as well as retrofitting for the existing infrastructure; and
  • The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Deer Island Pilot Plant, which has been offline since approximately 2001, is being assessed as part of this feasibility study. The study hopes to gain insight on potential facility improvements regarding operations and efficacy and the capital necessary for such improvements.

Other Water Innovation Funding Opportunities 

MassCEC offers a variety of funding opportunities that can support the development, demonstration and commercialization of innovative water technologies depending on the technological readiness of the project. These include:

  • Catalyst: This program provides grants to researchers and early-stage companies looking to demonstrate the feasibility of their clean water technologies and obtain increased industry and investor interest. This program is currently open.
  • InnovateMass: This program addresses the widely recognized funding gap between early- and late-stage clean energy and water technology companies by demonstrating the commercial readiness of innovative technologies at paired demonstration sites. This program is currently closed.
  • DeployMass: This program supports water innovation technology companies looking for their first or early Municipal client and facilitates the adoption of new innovative technologies at public agencies, schools and communities across the Commonwealth. This program is currently open.
  • AmplifyMass: This program funds projects pursuing cost share or adders for a federal/non-federal prime award (such as awards from ARPA-E, NSF, DOE, and USABC) and other projects that further MassCEC’s mission. This program is currently open and accepts applications on a rolling basis.
  • Investments: MassCEC makes direct equity and venture debt investments in Massachusetts-based clean energy companies. Equity investments average approximately $500,000 in a Seed, Series A, or Series B financing round, with venture debt investments of $100,000 to $1 million to help Massachusetts-based cleantech companies grow, reach key milestones, and create jobs. Water innovation recipients of Investments funds include Anfiro, a startup developing high permeability reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes for desalination and water treatment. This program is currently open.
  • Clean Energy Internship: This program helps prepare the next generation of clean energy workers by funding internships for students and recent graduates at Massachusetts clean energy and water innovation companies. This program is currently open.
  • AccelerateMass: This program supports companies as they advance and commercialize clean energy technologies and business models. It is a two-stage investment program that provides up to $150,000 in convertible notes to clean energy graduates of approved accelerator programs. The program is currently closed.

Program Success Stories

Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District (UBWPAD)

UBWPAD is a water treatment plant in Milbury, MA. This project was undertaken to evaluate the impact of using the flue gas generated through the sludge incineration process at Upper Blackstone to support algae production for downstream markets; the project also successfully aimed to treat wastewater by leveraging algae’s ability to metabolize and capture nutrients. For more information, please see the final project report.

                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                       

Figure 2: Bank 1: Photobio-control-reactor using CO2; Bank2: Photobio-pilot-reactor using flue gas.

Town of Amherst Water Filtration System

This project was conducted to evaluate the benefits of using an advanced ultrafiltration technology for the Town of Amherst’s wastewater treatment facility and its water reuse program. Clean Membranes, a Massachusetts-based water treatment equipment company, received a $149,987.93 grant from MassCEC’s Wastewater Treatment Pilot Program. The grant funded a partnership with the Town of Amherst to pilot an innovative approach to reclaiming and cleaning wastewater on the UMass Amherst campus. For more information, please visit the project’s success story page and final project report.

                                                                                                                                          

  Figure 3: Polymer strand ultrafiltration units

Resources

  • 2015 Water Technology Industry Roadmap: MassCEC, in collaboration with Battelle Memorial Institute and Redwood Innovation Partners, published this roadmap to describe the rapidly developing Water Technology Industry in Massachusetts, and identify strategies to increase the impact of this industry on the Massachusetts economy. 
  • World Health Organization Water Page: This webpage contains general information, fact sheets, statistics, and publications on the impact of water on global health.
  • United Nations Water Page: The United Nations inter-agency mechanism on all freshwater related issues, including sanitation.
  • World Water Day: Celebrated annually on March 22nd, this day is about taking action to tackle the water crisis.There are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water (WHO World Water Day.) The Boston 2018 celebration included MIT Water Night, a family-friendly evening featuring art pieces, scientific research, interactive demonstrations, and more.
  • Bluefield Research: This independent advisory firm helps companies and organizations address the regulatory, technology, business, and competitive trends impacting water (from their website.) The website contains reports on industry trends and issues.

 

News

  • Circle of Blue: A nonprofit organization that covers global water news, including supply shortages and contaminations, flooding crises, policymaking, and global trends
  • Brown and Caldwell Water News: Free national water industry news from the nation's newspapers, magazines, and research publications 
  • Water Online: Free technical information and thought leadership for the drinking water and wastewater treatment community
  • Water World: An online news and technology source serving engineers, managers, and consultants in the water/wastewater industry worldwide

Contact Information

Nash, Leslie

Project Manager, Innovation and Industry Support

lnash@masscec.com

617-315-9325

 

Michael Murphy

Director of Water Innovation

mmurphy@masscec.com

617-315-9360