ODESSA — Four years ago, Dais Analytic Corp. executives promised they could turn wastewater into drinkable water if Pasco County officials let the company use part of an old sewage treatment plant as a testing ground for its water purification technology.
On Monday, company CEO Tim Tangredi held up two containers, one with rust-colored water used for watering lawns, and the other with clear, clean water.
Take a drink, he said. County utilities director Bruce Kennedy sipped from the clear beaker and declared the purified water "tasteless."
"This is what we've been up to," Tangredi told the group of county leaders who showed up for a show-and-tell session.
Dais staff showed off their project, which is about the size of a backyard storage shed. It uses Dais' plastic membrane, developed more than 10 years ago, to transfer water molecules from one surface to another while filtering out salts, metals and microbes.
The test site, just east of Dais headquarters in Odessa, produces about 660 gallons of water per day. That's hardly enough for Pasco utilities customers, who consume about 27 million gallons a day. But for those in poor countries it could be critical, Tangredi said.
"A nun wanted to take our demo home with her," Tangredi said, recalling a conference he attended in Abu Dhabi. "She said it could save two or three lives a day."
The developers of the product, marketed as "NanoClear," say the process removes toxins to standards that are 1,000 times better than the feds require for drinking water.
"With the exception of alcohols, I have not found anything we haven't been able to filter out," said Stephen Baxter, Dais' director of engineering and quality.
They say their process is more efficient than the commonly used method, reverse osmosis, which is plagued by biofilm growth and relies on high pressure that uses more energy.
Dais put on the demonstration to show off its results to the county, which has given the company more than $1.2 million in tax breaks and assistance since it moved to Pasco from New York 16 years ago.
The company made headlines in 2009 when it announced a deal to sell its air filtration systems to China, saying it could bring up to 1,000 jobs to Pasco by 2015. The deal also called for developing a prototype wastewater treatment plant in China that would use Dais' products to clean polluted water.
The company said in its 2012 annual report that the air filtration systems now are being made and sold by MGE Energy, which buys ventilator cores made by Dais. That enables Dais to focus on nanotechnology. The report said it has 33 full-time employees.
Tangredi said he expects the process to be ready for more widespread use in the next 12 to 18 months.
Lisa Buie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.