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WSJ honors university-created LLC with Innovation Award

HUNTSVILLE, TX -- A company founded by Sam Houston State University to manufacture, distribute and license its patented wastewater-treatment technology has been recognized for scientific innovation by the Wall Street Journal.

Active Water Sciences, a limited liability corporation in Palestine, Texas, was named in the Journal's Technology Innovation Awards competition, which sought out the most innovative problem-solving technology world-wide in 17 categories.

Sam Houston State University discovered the science and owns the patents and intellectual property associated with the water treatment system and is a majority owner of Active Water Sciences, along with the inventors, who are current and former university employees.

The award recognizes the commercialization of laboratory research and subsequent development that led to the creation of a portable, scalable self-contained wastewater-treatment system the Water Phoenix that can convert wastewater into effluent that meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards in less than 24 hours, producing little to no sludge.

Traditional bacterial-based systems, such as the common septic system, generally take several weeks or months to "clean" waste water to EPA standards and generally leave a 40 to 60 percent by-product of toxic sludge.

Scientists at Sam Houston State said its systems could be adapted to produce potable drinkable water with minor adaptations.

Sabin Holland, the director of the research and commercialization of the technology project at Sam Houston State, said laboratory research of the concept began about eight years ago.

The first units were purchased by the United States Army, built to the size of a standard shipping container and deployed to Afghanistan just a few months ago to support forward operating bases.

"The Army specified the size of a standard shipping container so they could easily transport the systems by truck, train, ship, airplanes or helicopters," Sabin said. "Those units can process up to 35,000 gallons of waste water per day."

"The technology is scalable the units can be built larger or smaller and it has a huge potential for applications in military, civilian, commercial, industrial situations, including disaster relief," said Sabin. "The systems are simple to start up and operate and can be monitored remotely."

"Generally, the process of idea to experimentation and finally to commercialization takes 14 years or more, and many ideas fail to make it through research to the development stage ," Sabin said.

Active Water Sciences was recognized in the "environment" category along with the winner, NanoH20 Inc. based in California, and Ceracasa SA and FMC Foret SA of Spain and ClimateWell AB of Sweden.

NanoH20's product, a reverse-osmosis membrane utilizing nano-particles, to desalinize water, is based on research conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The Journal received 597 applications from companies, organizations and individuals in 30 countries. Editors at the Journal reviewed the entries and sent approximately 275 to a panel of judges from research institutions, venture-capital firms and other companies. The judges then selected 49 entries for awards in 17 categories.

"This was a international competition from the big players in the different categories, for example Microsoft for IT, etcetera, so we were up against venture-capital folks and other well-financed and highly capable organizations," said Sabin Holland.


Contact: Bruce Erickson
Sam Houston State University

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