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Membrion Founder and CTO Greg Newbloom examines a membrane developed in the company’s labs in Seattle. (Photo via Membrion)

From winning the University of Washington Business Plan Competition to raising investment dollars, it’s been a busy past year-and-a-half for Membrion.

The Seattle startup today announced a $1 million seed investment round from E8 and the E8 Fund; Bellingham Angel Investors; and individual angels. It also recently received a $748,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, via the America’s Seed Fund.

Chemistry expert Greg Newbloom founded Membrion in 2015 based on research he did with his professor, Lilo Pozzo. Membrion has created a new way to filter molecules in various conditions and use cases. The UW spinout turns the small silica packets commonly found in beef jerky packages into self-assembling filters for molecules; the technology is similar to a coffee filter built for molecules.

Membrion is aiming to disrupt the market for existing alternative energy products. Use cases include energy storage; pharmaceutical purification; fuel cells; and reverse osmosis.

John Plaza, a renewable energy veteran who took over as Membrion CEO in June 2017, said the “ion exchange market” is worth $2.6 billion.

“The membranes used in this market are based on expensive polymers and legacy equipment,” he said. “We accomplish the same [membrane] separation but with dramatically lower costs and at the same performance.”

Membrion is still developing its technology and working with prospective clients. It expects to have commercial demand by next year, Plaza said. The company employs seven people and expects to reach 12 employees this year.

Membrion previously won the UW Business Plan Competition in May 2017. Its other investors include Amazon’s Catalyst program, the Murdock Charitable Trust, and the CalTech Rocket Fund.

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