Finnish startup raises €2.2mn to recycle nutrients from wastewater

NPHarvest, a spin-off from Finland’s Aalto University, has raised €2.2 million to take its proprietary nutrient catcher machine to the market.

Juho Uzkurt Kaljunen, CEO and founder of NPHarvest.
Juho Uzkurt Kaljunen, CEO and founder of NPHarvest.

Led by Nordic Foodtech VC, with participation from Stephen Industries and Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry, the round consists of a €1.3 million equity investment and a €900,000 grant from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment and its RAKI program.

NPHarvest has developed a novel and soon patented hardware solution for the collection and recycling of nutrients from wastewater. The wastewater treatment equipment is able to separate and collect all excess nutrients from concentrated wastewaters, which can then be recycled and sold back to the fertilizer industry, making businesses more profitable, mitigating eutrophication, and enhancing local food security.

With the new funding, NPHarvest will build the first commercially available nutrient catcher, ready to be installed in its clients’ facilities.

“Our process is much more energy and cost-efficient and easier to operate than the current solutions,” says Juho Uzkurt Kaljunen, CEO and founder of NPHarvest. “Our end product is ammonia salt, which is commonly used in the fertilizer industry. We are very excited about bringing this technology to the market after years of research and development, bringing sustainable and affordable recycled nutrients and fertilizers to the market.”

Excessive amounts of fertilizers, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, can end up in the environment via wastewater or through nutrient leaching from agricultural areas. Both cause pollution of the ground and eutrophication in seas and lakes, which in turn causes overgrowth of algae and weeds, especially toxic blue-green algae, depleting oxygen and killing animal life.

The NPHarvest hardware can catch up to 90% of the excess but valuable nutrients from wastewater. Once the technology has separated the nutrients, they can be taken back to the fertilizer companies. NPHarvest’s process also uses very little energy, as it doesn’t require heating or pressure increase, reducing the costs of the process even further.

NPHarvest has two patents pending and is gearing up towards building its first products, ready to be installed at wastewater management facilities. The main customers are wastewater management plants, biogas plants, and livestock farms that are trying to cut their costs, reduce their carbon footprint, or earn extra income from recycled fertilizer sales.