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Infinite Cooling wins MIT $100K Launch with technology to reduce power plant water use

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Infinite Cooling took the grand prize at the May 14 MIT $100K Launch competition. The company’s patent-pending product uses electrical fields to recapture up to 80 percent of the water vapor that escapes from a power plant’s cooling towers, allowing the water to be reused in the cooling process.

In the United States, power plants use nearly 40 percent of the country’s total water withdrawals, said co-founder and 2017 MIT graduate Maher Damak.

A 250-megawatt power plant uses as much water in a year as 100,000 residential users, and has $5 million in annual water sourcing and treatment costs. Reusing escaping water vapor could save $1 million for that plant and reduce water consumption by at least 20 percent.

“Four thousand children die every day due to a lack of clean water,” Damak said. “We believe we can have a profound impact on the global water crisis. We see this as a new standard for best water practices.”

Launch is the third and final MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition event of the year. Where Pitch judges 90-second elevator pitches, and Accelerate delves into early customer research and prototype development, Launch encompasses whole business plans after a process of legal, design, and business mentorship.

Thirty-four teams were chosen out of 150 applications across all MIT departments. Those teams were given $1,000 stipends and access to mentors as business plans were revised and presentations were honed. Two weeks ago, in a private judging session, eight finalists were selected and given $10,000 stipends.

The Launch prize is the latest startup competition win for Infinite Cooling, which is an alum of MIT’s delta v startup accelerator program. The wins include last summer’s Cleantech University Prize and this spring’s Rice Business Plan Competition, where the company took home two prizes totaling $400,000.

Infinite Cooling is planning for a seed round by the end of the year and a Series A in 2020, Damak said. The company also plans to examine use cases beyond power plants to refineries and chemical plants, he said. Infinite Cooling's co-founders also include MIT grads Karim Khalil, ’14, and Kripa Varanasi, ’04. Khalil and Damak are both Tata Center for Technology and Design fellows.

The $10,000 Audience Choice award, chosen through live voting, went to Zilper Trenchless, which uses hydraulic force to install water pipes without digging into the ground.

“Think of it as noninvasive surgery for streets and cities,” said cofounder Daniel Zillante, MBA ’19.

Iterative Scopes won the $10,000 Booz Allen Hamilton Analytics Prize for its detection and diagnostic tools that help gastroenterologists identify cancerous colorectal lesions.

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