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Grant assists firm using solar process to kill pathogens in water

Focal Technologies, a Portland, OR-based startup, is using solar technology to reduce E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria in agricultural runoff. Now the firm has received a $210,000 state grant to further develop its passive treatment system known as “Ray.”

Company officials say Ray can break down organic waste, as well as industrial chemicals such as cyanide and glycol. They also claim that testing shows Ray will kill 99 percent of E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria to comply with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards and reduce total coliform to meet discharge permit limits.

Ray system Focal Technologies

The Ray system, developed by Focal Technologies of Portland, OR, uses solar technology to help kill pathogens in agricultural runoff. (Photo courtesy of Focal Technologies)

“Our system can break down a wide range of contaminants, but we are initially focused on remediating E. coli and other harmful bacteria in human or animal waste streams,” said Eric Steinmeyer, Focal Technologies CEO and president.

The system uses an eight-ft. diameter solar concentrating lens combined with a reaction chamber, where effluent is exposed to as much as 10,000 BTU per hour and 4,000 WM² of ultra-violet energy.

Ken Vaughn, Oregon BEST’s director of commercialization programs, called Ray a “promising clean technology” that might be able to hit the elusive target of using solar to decontaminate runoff on a large scale and at a reasonable cost.

“So it looks like Focal Technologies has a new product that they’ve been developing over a number of years that’s really a fundamentally new technology that harnesses the power of the sun to provide a cost-effective way to treat wastewater,” Vaughn said.

The $210,000 grant will help Focal Technologies collaborate with Oregon State University researchers Tyler Radneicki and Nick AuYeung, along with OSU graduate students, to convert an existing test unit into a batch unit, build a new prototype, and do testing to establish baselines. They plan to do the testing on animal waste at an organic dairy.

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