SolMem, Quarterfinalist Winner of the American-Made Challenges: Solar Desalination Prize by US Department of Energy

    Houston, Texas, September 28, 2021 – SolMem was one of the 12 quarterfinalist winners selected to advance to the second competition phase. 

    The American-Made Challenges: Solar Desalination Prize is a four-stage  competition designed to accelerate the development of low-cost desalination systems that use solar-thermal power to produce clean water from salt water. Competitors receive cash prizes as they advance through each stage, culminating in a $1 million grand prize for the successful testing and demonstration of a promising solar-thermal desalination system prototype.

     The second round of the prize was launched on April 12, 2020.  Participants from private companies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, students, and National Laboratories submitted their ideas for a solar-thermal desalination component or system prototype, along with a pathway to commercialization.

     On September 28, 2021, 12 quarterfinalists from 7 states were  selected to advance to the second competition phase. These competitors received $50,000 in cash and will form a team and refine plans for a fully operating solar-thermal desalination system.

     

Quarterfinalists

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                   SolMem: Solar NZLD  
                                                                                                   Location: Houston, TX 

 

     This concept combines a solar-thermal-driven multi-effect membrane distillation (MD) process with electricity-powered reverse osmosis (RO) to desalinate various wastewater streams and produce drinking-quality water. The MD technology uses a nanophotonics-enabled photothermal membrane that converts light to heat to simultaneously collect solar energy and desalinate water. This improves thermal efficiency and water recovery compared with conventional MD. The conceptual hybrid system combines the low energy consumption of RO with the high salt tolerance of MD while mitigating the disadvantages with near-zero liquid discharge (NZLD) so salt is just about the only waste product. 


 

About SolMem LLC

 

SolMem LLC is a Houston-based technology startup company. Founded in 2017, SolMem is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all by providing sustainable water treatment solutions to residential, municipal and industrial water challenges. Our team consists of energetic and entrepreneurial members with strong technical qualifications, diverse cultural and professional backgrounds in academia, engineering, business development, and management. Combining cutting edge research and novel engineering designs, SolMem aims to develop and commercialize disruptive technologies for water and wastewater applications.

SolMem LLC Awarded Competitive Grant from

the National Science Foundation

 

   Houston, Texas, March 19, 2021 – SolMem LLC has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $256,000 to conduct research and development (R&D) work on developing a low-cost high-efficiency solar desalination solution.

   Providing sufficient water and energy to ensure the prosperity of our society is a challenge of paramount importance. Population growth, increased water pollution by recalcitrant and hazardous contaminants, and climate change that threatens to exacerbate water scarcity in many regions. 

   Successful commercialization of the ME-NESMD technology provides an affordable solution to providing clean water to the large population that lacks access to safe water and reliable power supply. It will also provide a low-cost solution to the large quantity of saline industrial wastewater that is currently disposed of using methods not environmentally sustainable. 

   “NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.” 

   “The NSF SBIR grant will substantially expand our research capabilities and accelerate the development of a low-cost high-efficiency solar desalination solution. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity,” said Dr. Charles Liu, co-founder and R&D director at SolMem LLC. 

 

    Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II funding are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales. 

    Startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page Project Pitch will know within one month if they meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, undergo a rigorous merit-based review process. To learn more about America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, visit: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/

 

About SolMem LLC

 

SolMem LLC is a Houston-based technology startup company. Founded in 2017, SolMem is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all by providing sustainable water treatment solutions to residential, municipal and industrial water challenges. Our team consists of energetic and entrepreneurial members with strong technical qualifications, diverse cultural and professional backgrounds in academia, engineering, business development, and management. Combining cutting edge research and novel engineering designs, SolMem aims to develop and commercialize disruptive technologies for water and wastewater applications.

 

About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs

 

America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success.

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SolMem Won 2020 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I Award

     Houston, Texas (July 29, 2020) -- SolMem has received the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) Phase I award.  

     The USDA SBIR program focuses on transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. With the award from USDA SBIR Phase I, SolMem's research team will work on verifying and demonstrating the performance of our technology for the application of treating agricultural drainage water.  The focus of the phase I project will be bench-scale testing for the technology to verify the techno-economic feasibility.  

 

About SolMem LLC 

SolMem LLC is a Houston-based technology startup company. Founded in 2017, SolMem is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all by providing sustainable water treatment solutions to residential, municipal and industrial water challenges. Our team consists of energetic and entrepreneurial members with strong technical qualifications, diverse cultural and professional backgrounds in academia, engineering, business development, and management. Combining cutting edge research and novel engineering designs, SolMem aims to develop and commercialize disruptive technologies for water and wastewater applications.