ST. GEORGE — Eden Technologies, a water desalination startup in St. George, recently received a $250,000 investment from venture capital firm Utah Innovation Fund.

Eden Technologies developed Reverse Osmosis Centrifuge (ROC) technology, which is designed to enhance the efficiency of desalinating brackish (salty) ocean water. This method not only produces clean drinking water, it does so without creating a larger energy footprint than other contemporary methods.

The potential of ROC could address Utah’s escalating demand for fresh, clean water.

“Growing up in water-scarce Las Vegas, I witnessed the urgency of addressing our planet’s water crisis,” said Eden Tech CEO Hunter Manz, 24, who shared his personal motivation behind the ROC’s development. “I realized the untapped potential in brackish and undrinkable underground water and refined my ideas at Utah Tech University, which led to the development of the ROC. The investment from the Utah Innovation Fund is crucial and gets us closer to a future where accessible, clean water is a reality for all.”

Manz pointed to the example of ice skaters using their arms to control their spinning velocity and said he applied a similar concept here: An axle spins to create pressure, which can result in a 30-40% increase in drinking water production while reducing waste.

Manz said he’s been sort of a self-engineer most of his life.

Photo shows Eden Technologies’ current generation ROC prototype, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Hunter Manz, St. George News

“Since I was 14 I started tinkering and teaching myself different engineering concepts along the way,” he said. “My mentor, Wayne Provost, brought me to Utah Tech. When I enrolled in mechanical engineering, I learned more concepts and have been improving ever since,”

This innovative machine can be integrated into existing desalination plants or new constructions. Plans are underway to conduct ROC testing in the Navajo Nation and Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Jeremy Pearson of the San Rafael Energy research center sees the need for more efficient water desalination both abroad and at home.

“As one of the driest states in the U.S., it is exciting to see innovative companies in Utah taking a leadership role in tackling water scarcity head-on and producing solutions that will augment water supplies in the West and globally,” Pearson said. “Ultimately, it’s technologies like this that can supply all the water needed for Utah’s agriculture and population growth and has great potential to help replenish the Great Salt Lake.”

The Utah Innovation Fund invested in Eden Technologies, which operates a warehouse in Washington County, because the company is addressing a need in drier climates that are seeing population growth.

“What we really fell in love with was their drive and mission to help with this major world problem of water scarcity,” said Gabi Tellez of Eden Technologies. “We were really inspired by their mission.

“They’re aligned with our mission of investing in our future and solving problems in innovative ways that benefit us all. We’re excited about the data the company has gathered so far and are very comfortable with long-time horizon investments.”

Manz says the next system could be even better than their current model, which is their first commercial system.

“It will take about a year for that to go out to people,” Manz. “We’re working with some of the biggest desalination plants in the world.”

He hopes to get into brine mining, or the process of extracting useful materials out of the water, after the desalination process yields a high enough efficiency.

“If you’re able to get it up to, let’s say 88 percent you’re able to use the 12 percent of waste to distill the last bit of water,” Manz said. “You’re then left behind with all of the solids which you can now sell.”

The investment marks a significant milestone for both parties, as it represents the inaugural investment made by the year-old firm.

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