Dr Greg Newbloom, Membrion founder and CTO, holding one of the company's membranes.
Dr Greg Newbloom, Membrion founder and CTO, holding one of the company's membranes.

Membrion, a Seattle-based manufacturer of low cost, high performance ion exchange membranes, has raised US$1.8 million in funding from local investors and the National Science Foundation.

The US company, a spin out of the University of Washington, has received US$1 million in the initial close of its Series Seed round, including funding from E8 and the E8 Fund, Bellingham Angel Investors and individual angels. The company also secured US$748 000 in a grant from America’s Seed Fund, powered by the National Science Foundation.

Membrion will use the funding to expand its team of researchers, continue to scale its technology and develop commercially viable membranes for the ion exchange markets in water separation technologies and energy storage applications.

Membrion uses silica gel – an inexpensive, non-toxic material that is often packaged with new shoes – to produce a novel class of commercial ceramic membranes. The patent-pending Membrion technology converts the highly absorbent, small-pore silica gel into flexible ceramic membranes that can be engineered to meet the needs of a wide range of applications.

“Membrion’s unique technology produces a flexible ion exchange membrane with the high performance of an ultra-durable ceramic at a price significantly lower than a polymer, offering a truly disruptive opportunity to companies seeking to solve the world’s most pressing problems,” explained John Plaza, CEO of Membrion. “This seed round of funding enables us to grow the team, acquire equipment and conduct further testing of our membranes as we move to commercial production.”

The company is targeting applications in the water purification, energy storage and biotherapeutics industries.

Membrion was founded in 2016 by Dr Greg Newbloom, based on the technology he developed alongside Professor Lilo Pozzo at the University of Washington’s College of Engineering. The company has received support from UW’s CoMotion, Buerk Center & Clean Energy Institute, the National Science Foundation, Amazon’s Catalyst program, the Murdock Charitable Trust, and the CalTech Rocket Fund.

“The Membrion team is turning a brilliantly simple idea born in a University of Washington chemical engineering lab into a cleantech product with myriad applications,” said UW Clean Energy Institute Director Dan Schwartz. “The UW Clean Energy Institute is proud to have been an early supporter and to continue working with the company as they use our Washington Clean Energy Testbeds facility to further their technology.”