News | August 8, 2013

Woongjin Places Bet On Forward Osmosis For Advanced Water Treatment

Investment & JDA with Porifera, Inc. to manufacture and market advanced Forward Osmosis membranes—First major investment by top tier membrane manufacturer.

Hayward, CA /PRNewswire/ - Porifera, Inc. a Silicon Valley startup focused on developing advanced membranes for water treatment, announced today that it has closed Series A financing and a development, manufacturing and commercialization agreement with Woongjin Chemical Company, of South Korea. The investment gives Porifera the ability to market, manufacture and sell its forward osmosis products at high volume, while also gaining access to Woongjin's global sales and marketing channels.

Woongjin CEO Chankoo Park says, "We are very impressed with Porifera's FO membrane performance. It is clearly one of the highest performing FO membranes available today. The Woongjin-Porifera partnership will jointly allow us to become the leading suppliers of FO membranes to customers worldwide."

Porifera's FO membrane has 2-3 times higher flux and lower salt passage than today's commercially available cellulose acetate FO membranes. They are particularly effective in treating challenging waters that foul most membranes.

Woongjin and Porifera anticipate these membranes will open up large markets, particularly in Asia, for cost effective treatment of highly fouling industrial waste waters. There is also a significant North American market opportunity for treatment of high fouling waters resulting from hydraulic fracturing.

Porifera successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of its Forward Osmosis membranes through continuous long-term testing under the U.S. Department of Defense's DARPA program.  Porifera's membranes were able to treat "challenge" water created by DARPA—containing silt, dust, organic matter and other particulates designed for the express purpose of fouling the membranes. Despite DARPA's efforts to compromise the membranes, Porifera's system ran continuously with virtually no flux decline over the duration of the tests.

"The Woongjin investment is a huge vote of confidence for bringing this disruptive technology into the commercial mainstream," said Olgica Bakajin, CEO of Porifera." It is the first major commercial investment into FO by one of the top tier membrane manufacturers. We are very excited about our partnership with Woongjin and anticipate significant growth over the coming years. "

About Porifera
Porifera is a Silicon Valley startup, based in Hayward California. Porifera has pioneered development of carbon nanotube membranes and forward osmosis membranes for water treatment. Porifera has successfully executed projects for ARPA-E, DARPA, NSF, and NASA to demonstrate, design and develop high performing membranes and water treatment systems that are low-fouling and energy efficient. Porifera is currently commercializing its advanced FO membrane and elements and is engaging customers for pilot testing of its FO/RO system for advanced water treatment. More information can be found at www.porifera.com.

About Woongjin Chemical
Woongjin Chemical Co. Ltd, ($1.1 billion USD) is South Korea's largest manufacturer of polyester fibers, filaments, and processed textiles.  The company has 1,100 employees worldwide and also produces reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, and microfiltration membrane products. Woongjin's effective sales and marketing team and its high quality manufacturing and R&D teams have allowed it to rapidly gain market share and become a top global manufacturer of membranes and modules. The company is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea and operates its global filter division under the CSM brand. CSM has invested heavily in R&D for improving existing membrane technologies for RO, NF, UF, and MF products. The company has also been awarded national grants to create next-generation FO and PRO membranes that will serve as an engine for future growth. More information can be found at www.wjchemical.com (company website) and www.csmfilter.com (Filter Division website for membranes).

SOURCE: Porifera, Inc.

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