The technology, developed by Albuquerque-based startup SlipStream LLC, completely eliminates the contaminants in factory-processed water, allowing small operators to recycle 95 percent of their liquids for re-use instead of carting it off to landfills, said company CEO Paul Short. That could save factories thousands of dollars per month in disposal fees when complying with environmental regulations.
Companies can either buy the water-cleansing units, which will be manufactured in Albuquerque, or take advantage of SlipStream’s new traveling cleaning service that offers pay-as-you-go recycling whenever needed.
“We’ll deploy mobile units for operators to roll out and use for a day before it moves onto the next customer,” Short said. “It’s designed to handle nasty stuff, including liquid discharge from oil and gas operations.”
The mobile units, which will be mounted on a tractor trailer, will be making their first rounds in December in Los Angeles, where the company is targeting some 400 metal-plating shops that struggle to manage their waste water disposal requirements.
“We want to start by getting a good handle on the L.A. market before moving onto more places,” Short said. “Then we’ll head to cities in southern and Northern California, and later move onto industrial centers in the mid-West and further east.”
The company is moving from its current, 1,700-square-foot machine shop near the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park to a larger facility in the next few months, where it will build new units for sale or for mobile service as markets grow.
The patent-pending technology is based on “mechanical vapor recompression,” in which heat evaporates the waste water, separating contaminants from liquid. The vapor then re-condenses into clean reusable water, and the contaminants are captured in a separate container for disposal.
The technology’s secret sauce is a closed-loop system that completely contains all discharge. That traps heat, or energy, used in the evaporation process, creating efficiencies that reduce operational costs while avoiding the need for air or other environmental permits because nothing escapes from the system.
Short and company co-founder Victor Hargrove created the new design together, starting out in Short’s garage in 2013.
“We created some original intellectual property to make the parts meld together just right,” Hargrove said. “That’s the secret sauce that took some blood, sweat and tears. Now, with all the hard work done, we’re ready to deploy it.”
The system has been tested extensively at two California plating shops.
Daniel Schachtel, president of Precision Hermetic Technology in Redlands, Ca., said the system has saved him about $15,000 is waste water disposal costs during the months it was deployed at his facility. It converted about 1,000 gallons of waste water per month into reusable water with a small container of metal salts left behind for recycling.
“I went from $3,500 in disposal fees per month to just $100,” Schachtel said.
“Their machine is cutting-edge technology that makes the whole process more efficient and saves money. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The company has invested about $950,000 to date to build its system, including $750,000 from the Verge Fund in Albuquerque. It’s now raising more money to finance its mobile-marketing strategy.
SlipStream is one of eight local companies chosen to present its technology in a $100,000 startup pitch competition offered by Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” bus tour. Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based investment firm Revolution Growth LLC, will roll into Albuquerque on Oct. 6 to visit with local startups, meet with local officials and business leaders, and chose a winner in the pitch event.