Active Membranes, whose co-founders include UCLA civil and environmental engineering professors David Jassby and Eric Hoek, is making water desalination possible at a lower cost. The company is within the Magnify Incubator at CNSI — the California Nanosystems Institute at UCLA — which supports early-stage technology startups by providing facilities, services and expertise.

While freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce around the globe, resources such as seawater and industrial wastewater are expensive to procure and clean. Active Membranes is revolutionizing freshwater access with electrically conducting nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membrane modules that can resist scaling and fouling.

Its technology substantially reduces the cost and footprint of these processes. Because it can be applied to any membrane-based water treatment system at any scale, from household point of use to large commercial plants, the combined market opportunity exceeds $20 billion.

“Here at UCLA, we are growing and developing young minds for success after college which is directly translatable to future skills and solving societal problems and that is exciting when we can create ideas that address specific problems,” Jassby said. “In the case of Active Membranes, it is fresh water.”

The company recently won $30,000 in funding as part of the inaugural UCLA Innovation Showcase at Google’s Venice Beach headquarters. The showcase, presented by the Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson School of Management, enabled startup founders across UCLA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to pitch venture capitalists and compete for funding opportunities. Last year, Active Membranes also won the 2023 Water Tech Idol Award at the Global Water Summit in Berlin.

Read the full story about Active Membranes at the CNSI website.