A Dutch start-up with Greek origin: SEALEAU B.V. treats brine (wastewater from desalination containing highly concentrated amounts of salt) until only fresh water and valuable minerals are left. They dream of a world where no water goes to waste after the desalination process. The team from Athens ended up on High Tech Campus Eindhoven in September and founded a Dutch company bringing their system to the next step of the commercalisation. After 5 months they are on the move again. This time they will settle in Delft.
After the successful completion of European projects and several awards for their Circular Concept of treating salty waste water, they want to add a commercial layer to the desalination process by creating an opportunity for companies to turn a profit out of a free resource: Seawater. “We call it Sea Mining”, SEALEAU COO Maria Mortou says. “The salt-residues and minerals can be exploited depending on the needs of each municipality or industry. For the moment, we are focusing mostly on the benefits an industry can gain through this circular way of treating salty waste-water.”
I do feel the pressure sometimes, but I take a step back, a deep breath, and think of how far we came already. That is the fuel that keeps us going.”
Companies and municipalities around the world already use desalination to extract fresh water from the sea but are left with a saline residue. “The United Nations have recognized that this wastewater is one of the major threats to the sea environment .” With legislation becoming more strict on the subject of residual waste being disposed into sea or rivers, industries are pushed to reach out for a solution. “They have no idea what to do with this”, Mortou says. “We offer them a chance to further develop their business, by extracting the last bit of waste and turn it into something valuable. We are ‘Closing the Loop’ of waste water. ”
Ms Mortou and Dr. Dimitris Xevgenos, CEO of SEALEAU B.V. left Athens in September 2015. The two of them represent a larger team of colleague’s that are in Greece, Austria and the Netherlands. This can be difficult from time to time. “I do feel the pressure sometimes, but I take a step back, a deep breath, and think of how far we came already. That is the fuel that keeps us going.”
One of the difficulties Maria and Dimitris face, lies in the nature of their clients. “We are dealing with big industries and sometimes Governmental projects” Maria says. “I mean, it’s not like we are selling a cellphone or a product to a large consumers’ market. We have to take into account that implementing a system involves complex legislation, adjustments to the unique needs of each purpose and -of course- big investments.”
According to Maria, SEALEAU’s solution to the wastewater problem should not only be interesting to countries facing water stress. But also to the industries all over the world that need huge amounts of high quality fresh water for their daily opperations. They chose to base their company in the Netherlands.
“The Dutch always had an interesting relationship with the water”, Maria says. The team decided to come to Eindhoven because they felt it was the right environment to grow. In their six months spent on High Tech Campus so far, they have built a Supervisory Board of six mentors. “We could not have gathered people with such a great experience on such a short period in Athens.”
Yet, there is a set date on the duration of SEALEAU’s stay in Eindhoven. A short line between the Greek team and a possible collaboration with TU Delft pulls the company to move to that city. Just as it did when they moved from Athens to Eindhoven. There seems to be another big advantage as well. The move to Delft does bring SEALEAU closer to the source: The increasing needs of purified water by the indutries near the Dutch coast.