Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies is a clean water firm that extracts phosphorous, nitrogen, and other nutrients from wastewater and then recycles it into fertilizer.
The firm just completed a $14.5 million VC round led by VantagePoint Capital Partners, along with Frog Capital and a team of new investors including Waste Resources Fund L.P. VantagePoint venture partner Robert Kennedy, Jr. is on Ostara's board of directors.
Ostara's equipment can extract more than 90 percent of the phosphorus and 40 percent of the ammonia load from a sewage sludge stream of 500,000 liters per day, according to the firm. The resulting mixture is used to make roughly 500 kilograms of what the company calls
Soylent Crystal Green, a slow-release fertilizer.
Ostara estimates that approximately 200 wastewater plants in North America and several hundred plants in Europe and the rest of the world are candidates for the technology. The firm looks to expand beyond waste water treatment plants to other industries.
The system is installed at Clean Water Services, a water utility with more than 500,000 customers in urban Washington County, west of Portland. Ostara's process provides revenue from the sale of the fertilizer, as well as reducing the O&M usually spent in de-scaling the equipment from the built-up nutrients. Phosphorous accumulates on equipment in what is called struvite scale and reduces plant performance and lifetime.
Wastewater is a new frontier for a handful of companies. Israel's Aqwise has new solutions for processing wastewater more efficiently. In Singapore, NEWater -- which makes up a small portion of the country's drinking water -- is recovered from the sewage system. Israel's Emefcy uses uses wastewater to power a fuel cell as it treats the water.