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SBIR-STTR-Success: GreenTechnologies, LLC
Through innovation, approaches have been developed to reduce waste and increase growth. Approaches that benefit both the environment and the economy simultaneously are incredibly valuable. GreenTechnologies, LLC, has developed such an approach, establishing a means to treat wastewater and reuse the extracted nutrients productively in its line of fertilizers.
GreenTechnologies, LLC, a small business based in Gainesville, Florida, was awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish its innovative nutrient recycling process and phosphorus adsorption technology, which improves water treatment processes without adding hazardous chemicals to the water source. Once recovered from the treated wastewater, such nutrients as phosphorous, carbon, and nitrogen can be converted into slow-release, organic fertilizers. In this way, wastewater can be used to produce safe and efficient fertilizers, branded under the name GreenEdge, that are available in multiple formulations and are commercially successful both in the United States and abroad.
GreenEdge partially owes its success to its unique and advantageous qualities. Because GreenEdge fertilizers release nutrients efficiently, less fertilizer is needed than when using competitors’ formulations. The nutrient release, while efficient, is also slow, thereby preventing over-fertilization and “burning” of grass. In addition, these fertilizers are effective at retaining moisture, which reduces the amount of water needed to maintain landscaping. Finally, GreenEdge adds organic matter to the soil, which promotes a healthy soil ecosystem and overall plant health.
EPA’s SBIR funding contributed to GreenTechnologies’ success by enabling the company to devote resources and hire personnel focused on the research, development, and commercialization of its innovative phosphorus recovery technology. This support facilitated experimentation and analysis leading to a wastewater filter with substantial real-world implications and impressive results, both in terms of treating wastewater and producing effective fertilizers. Phase II follow-on EPA SBIR funding enabled GreenTechnologies to open new markets for the company and develop business in new sectors.
The effectiveness of the product, along with necessary SBIR funding, positioned GreenTechnologies for commercial success. GreenTechnologies has formed commercialization and distribution partnerships with fertilizer and landscape supply distributors, property managers, and aquaculture industry organizations. The company has established manufacturing infrastructure while supporting a talented staff, and GreenEdge products are already being used by more than 100 golf courses in Florida alone.
GreenTechnologies has developed technology that has significant social and economic impacts. It has challenged the wastewater treatment industry and meets market demand. This technology also reduces phosphorus levels in water below detectable limits, preventing phosphate runoff and leaching, which are harmful to the health of rivers and lakes. GreenTechnologies’ wastewater treatment technology reduces the amount of biosolids that must be processed by local governments, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars a year and dramatically reducing landfill waste, water contaminants, and other harmful environmental effects. In addition, because GreenTechnologies uses renewable, locally available resources in the United States, it is contributing to the U.S. economy by creating jobs and increasing U.S. manufacturing. In 2020, GreenTechnologies developed a new patented coating technology for which it was awarded a new USDA-SBIR grant. GreenTechnologies online sales grew substantially in 2020 as many people worked from home and focused on gardening and landscaping projects. GreenTechnologies is currently working on developing and commercializing new products to increase nutrient recovery and enhance plant utilization with a focus on minimizing environmental impact.
With its SBIR-supported technology, GreenTechnologies is successfully addressing high-priority environmental issues, contributing to waste processing, providing a valuable product, and bolstering the U.S. economy. The positive effects of such innovative and impactful technology will undoubtedly be significant and long-lasting.