ZwitterCo raises US$33mn to scale its membrane technology

US membrane technology company ZwitterCo Inc has secured US$33 million in a Series A funding round to expand the development and production of its zwitterionic membrane technology.

ZwitterCo's membranes regularly clean in under one hour and fully recover and restore performance even after severe fouling events.
ZwitterCo's membranes regularly clean in under one hour and fully recover and restore performance even after severe fouling events. - Photo: Business Wire.

The financing, led by venture capital firm DCVC, will allow ZwitterCo to add applications development, increase its pilot fleet, and build inventory to meet demand for its products. The funding will also be used to commission the company’s state-of-the-art innovation centre just north of Boston, accelerating the development of new membrane products based on ZwitterCo chemistry.

“ZwitterCo has unlocked the true potential of zwitterions for water treatment, resulting in a leap in membrane performance,” said Chris Drover, co-founder and chief technology officer of ZwitterCo. “The mechanisms behind fouling and degradation that plague traditional membranes do not apply to our products.”

A zwitterion is a special class of molecule that is “hydrophilic” or highly attractive to water molecules. ZwitterCo’s patented zwitterionic copolymers self-assemble into hydrophilic channels, acting like flumes at a water park, ushering through H2O molecules, and repelling everything unable to flow through its narrow pores, including organic compounds such as oils, fats, greases, or proteins. The company’s rugged polymeric membrane is immune to irreversible fouling. While traditional membrane performance degrades with every cleaning cycle until the membranes no longer work and must be replaced, ZwitterCo membranes perform as new after every cleaning cycle.

ZwitterCo’s first product, a superfiltration (SF) membrane, targets challenging industrial wastewaters for treatment and reuse.

“Today, over 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity at various times during the year,” said Alex Rappaport, co-founder and CEO of ZwitterCo. “As the world works to adapt to population growth and climate change, reusing wastewater safely and economically is imperative.”

Since introducing the SF in 2021, ZwitterCo has booked over a dozen commercial projects and completed dozens more successful pilots. As a result, ZwitterCo is already tackling some of the hardest wastewater treatment challenges, including digestates, leachates, oil & gas-produced water, poultry & dairy, bioprocessing, and food & beverage wastewaters. ZwitterCo membranes are also used in novel process applications where fouling recovery, ruggedness and exacting tolerances are essential, such as protein extraction from bio-fermentation.

DCVC led ZwitterCo’s Series A financing, with participation from new investors Heritage Group Ventures, Genoa Ventures and Mott Corp. Existing investors Mann+Hummel Corporate Ventures, Burnt Island Ventures, and R-Cubed Capital Partners also participated in this round.

“At DCVC, we invest in Deep Tech companies that address urgent, global problems while providing outsized returns for our investors,” said Jason Pontin, a partner at DCVC and chairman of ZwitterCo’s board of directors. “ZwitterCo’s novel membrane chemistry will help solve water scarcity around the globe by making it easy and affordable for a wide variety of industries to adopt water reuse.”