Hydroxsys partners with the University of Auckland to further develop its membrane technology

The New Zealand cleantech startup Hydroxsys is partnering with the University of Auckland and the technology research and development network New Zealand Product Accelerator to further develop and commercialise its patented membrane filtration technology.

One of the first areas of collaboration under the partnership will be the reduction of nitrogen discharged from dairy farms.
One of the first areas of collaboration under the partnership will be the reduction of nitrogen discharged from dairy farms. - Image © New Zealand - Adobe Stock.

This follows a recent seed funding round that raised more than NZD3 million from investors.

Hydroxsys has developed a method for recovering clean water from waste by creating hydrophilic qualities for its novel membrane system. The hydrophilic properties allow water molecules to pass through the membrane, while rejecting suspended solids, including fats, oils and grease. The membrane has also shown capability to separate dissolved solids, salts and minerals such as nitrogen-containing compounds at high levels, compared to similar types of technology. The system employs the same core polyethylene material used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries and can withstand the highly variable and at times harsh conditions found in wastewater.

The company and the University of Auckland have been engaged in research for more than a decade. Establishing a formal collaboration with the University and NZ Product Accelerator will give Hydroxsys access to advanced science research capabilities and introduce the company to new IP extension opportunities.

One of the first areas of collaboration is the reduction of nitrogen discharged from dairy farms. Lab trials have produced a membrane able to screen out 99.5% of solids and over 90% of the total nitrogen contained in wastewaters, offering a pathway to reducing the impact on rivers and surrounding pasture, while offsetting the cost of synthetic fertilizers and even capturing concentrated nitrogen as a resource.

“Partnering with the University of Auckland and the New Zealand Product Accelerator will advance our strategy of helping industry reduce the volume of wastewater at source before it reaches municipal treatment systems or waterways," said Chris Macbeth, CEO of Hydroxsys. "Our purpose is to secure the future of water, and we aim to help customers globally recover and reuse one billion m3 of water in the next 20 years. In addition to the financial and reputational benefits for individual customers, this will have a positive knock-on effect in the social chain encompassing environmental and human health, infrastructure maintenance costs and carbon emissions.”

Additional collaboration with New Zealand Product Accelerator is planned to help reduce the cost and carbon impact of existing systems such as reverse osmosis, and help to deliver humanitarian water solutions to communities where access to safe drinking water is limited.

Mark Taylor, co-director of the New Zealand Product Accelerator, and a Professor at the University of Auckland, says: “Hydroxsys’ membrane technology is highly innovative and scalable, and meets the growing demand internationally for a ‘whole of environment’ approach to sustainability. Partnering with the Product Accelerator gives Hydroxsys access to eight research institutions comprising the Product Accelerator network. This is a step change in capability and will complement Hydroxsys’ own team capabilities with engineers, scientists, farming experts, and PhD students. These research resources and specialised skills will speed up the deployment of Hydroxsys wastewater solution on farms, vineyards, dairy processing and other industrial settings throughout New Zealand and the world.”