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The Two Sides of Effective Waste Management

Micellotech

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Micellotech has developed a novel filtration technology to separate oil and water emulsions by installing it in facilities to manage industrial wastewater effectively. The technology leverages using special asymmetric filters that have two different types of components coated on either side.

“The technology, based on a portfolio of filters under this umbrella, is called the Janus filter technology, named after the Roman god of two faces.”

- Morgan Lehtinen (Founder & CEO)


This innovation will, during wastewater management, minimize the wastage of valuable resources and preserve water and oils for reuse.

Author

Akshay Bharadwaj

Akshay Bharadwaj

School

York University- Schulich School of Business

York University- Schulich School of Business

Professor

Charles Cho

Charles Cho

Innovation

As a fourth-year undergraduate student studying chemical engineering, Morgan found the opportunity to work on a project under the guidance and mentorship of Prof. Guojun Liu. During this period, the foundations of Micellotech’s filtration technology started to develop, and after five years of research, Morgan decided to create the company Micellotech in 2021. Along with support from her mentors, Morgan has also received assistance from Sebastian Alamillo, works on strategy development, and acts as a liaison between Micellotech and KPM Accelerate – a third-party firm that provides trained engineers and scientists to assist with scale-up and commercialization. To serve as an inspiration and motivate new students, Morgan provides them with the opportunity to assist in the research at Micellotech.

The specialty of Micellotech technology is the proprietary polymer designed to be coated onto almost any surface such as fabric, metal, glass, or as per the customer’s requirements. Developments are occurring to make the product commercially available across all industries, enabling the filtration of up to thousands of liters of waste.

Driven by her desire to conserve natural resources and water scarcity, Morgan states "that the company's core mission is to work towards making industrial wastewater contamination in our water system a problem of the past." In the long-term, Morgan would like to build the company to be the leading provider of resource recycling technology -that its technological achievements act as the gold standard around such recycling activity, especially around the separation of oil and water.

The Two Sides of Effective Waste Management

Inspiration

One of the main learnings that inspired Morgan to continue developing her technology was on the Earth Overshoot Day for the year 2021. The Earth Overshoot Day is the day when humans will utilize all the resources allocated for that year. Shockingly, for the year 2021, this day came on the 29th of July, which means 12 months of resources consumed in just seven months!

“Growing up in a generation of environmental issues and oil spills, I was really drawn and passionate about the problem.”

- Morgan Lehtinen (Founder & CEO)

Dedicated and driven to find a way, Morgan believes her efforts and success can further inspire the newer generations of engineering students to reduce the wastage of resources by making them reusable. Also, to pursue their dreams and continue their work instead of abandoning it.

Overall impact

Micellotech stands out as a promising innovator because of its proprietary technology, which allows special polymers to be coated on any surface, as mentioned earlier. This technology, as Morgan states, “…is the secret recipe of the company.”

This “secret recipe” has caught the attention of many potential customers looking for wastewater treatment solutions within the protocols set by the government. Some customers were looking to preserve valuable materials from wastage during the waste treatment. Micellotech’s novel filtration mechanism can separate oil and water emulsion with an effectiveness of up to 95% as per laboratory tests. The oil recovered is over 99% pure, making it recyclable. This filtration happens without the use of external energy sources or hazardous components.

“Currently, companies either burn their waste or dispose of it in environmentally unsustainable ways or they will separate the oil and water through a high energy utilizing centrifuge system.”

- Morgan Lehtinen (Founder & CEO)

The new technology shows promising results in lowering energy usage, reducing disposal volumes of oily waste, and being cheaper for the client to implement through the ability to recycle valuable components from wastewater. Although, Micellotech has not yet been able to measure the exact impact on customers. The engineers at KPM Accelerate conducted a techno-economic analysis using customer data, which helps showcase the potential energy savings by implementing Micellotech’s technology. Micellotech claims it can save customers up to 70% of their annual operating costs.

Business benefit

With stricter government regulations on waste-water management and health and safety, it’s no surprise that more and more companies are looking for viable and sustainable solutions. The government is incentivizing tax credits for companies engaged in effective waste-water management. But it isn’t just the government pressure pushing companies to be more environmentally conscious. Companies realize that focusing on environmental sustainability attracts consumers sensitive to sustainable practices.

Morgan is aware of the market potential of her innovation, and she has already started the process to raise money to enable Micellotech to develop its product on a commercial scale, with a potential seed round over the summer of 2022.

Social and environmental benefit

Many industries, such as the metal manufacturing industry, are archaic in their use of technology and lack innovative waste management processes. Such industries use large volumes of coolant and waste up to 1000’s liters on machines. On cleaning, these coolants get contaminated with different impurities and hazardous substances. This contamination can eventually end up in our water systems.

“In the future, we have the plan of tracking the carbon footprint reduction, greenhouse gas reduction by using our technology.”

- Morgan Lehtinen (Founder & CEO)

Micellotech’s innovation can help improve the reusability of coolants, saving time, energy, natural resources, and costs while helping preserve the flora, fauna, and people affected by industrial wastes.

Interview

Morgan Lehtinen, Founder & CEO

Photo of interviewee

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Micellotech

Micellotech

Kingston, Ontario, CA

Business Website: https://www.micellotech.com/

Year Founded: 2021

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Micellotech was founded in 2021 by Morgan Lehtinen with the primary mission of making industrial wastewater contamination a problem of the past. To this end, it has developed a novel filtration mechanism that allows the separation of oil and water emulsions while being sustainable and cost-effective. Their innovation has already attracted many potential investors and customers and shows promising signs of being a successful venture toward making waste management more sustainable.