Pilus Energy Presents: Turning dirt into gold!

Pilus Energy is converging existing and new technologies into an innovative electrogenic bioreactor (EBR) powered by Bacterial Robotics
Ian Harrison
Cincinnati, Ohio
United States
4 Team Members
Here's who is talking about us! 

The Ecoprenurist...

Read about us in the WSJ here! 

We genetically enhanced bacteria and can use them to turn sewage into electricity. Yeah, you're gonna want to read this...

My name is Cody Harrison and my goal as an entrepreneur is to help solve the water and energy crises we are entering.

Despite all of the media attention on preserving the global environment, there is still a huge problem that gets less attention than it deserves: the rapid build-up of waste-water, sewage, and sludge. The United Nations expects global population to rise to nearly 10 Billion by 2050. People, that's a lot of poo...

Not only is our fresh water supply in jeopardy, but we also generate an astounding amount of harmful waste-water every year from municipal sewage, manure slurry from concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs), stick water from animal rendering plants (Google at your own risk…), and Hydrogen Sulfide-rich beer brewing wastewater, among others. Around the globe, treatment systems struggle to keep pace and often operate based on the premise that “dilution is the solution.” As a result, a massive amount of fresh water is “wasted” trying to deal with the dirty water.

Here at Pilus Energy, we have a better idea. Take what we now think of as "waste", and turn it into a renewable source of electricity, while also cleaning water, and producing valuable biogases. Our patented technology can tap into the estimated 1100 Terawatt hours of energy stored in waste molecules (enough to power about 275 million homes for a year, every year). We are able to extract this energy using a combination of synthetic biology, and fuel cell technology. We utilize our genetically enhanced Bacterial Robots (or BactoBots as we call them) to metabolize the contaminants in the water. So far we have two Bots. RemediBot (or Remi for short) is simply added to the water freely, whereas our GalvaniBot is housed in a fancy fuel cell called an electrogenic bioreactor (or EBR). There, Galvani is able to produce electricity, H2O, and valuable biogases and chemicals. Whaddya say? Throw us a few bucks and let us prove what this stuff can do.

And build a bigger one of these!

V 4.0 Prototype EBR

What We Need & What You Get

Our initial goal is $50,000. If we can raise that amount, we can hire a mechanical engineer and design then build our new bench-level prototype complete with sensors and wi-fi data transfer. This is a critical step in building a full size industrial prototype, and will yield important data concerning how the BactoBots perform using different wastewater feedstocks and reactor orientations. This will occur at the EPA's Testing and Evaluation facility in Cincinnati.

Stretch goal #1: If we can raise $75,000, we will be able to begin running wastewater through the EBR and begin to get more data on operating conditions (temperature, pH, etc.), performance properties (remediation, electricity, biogas production, etc.), and remediation properties (BOD, COD, hydrogen sulfide, etc.)

Stretch goal #2: If we can somehow raise $150,000, we'll build a 100 gallon reactor and we'll do our absolute best to make sure it is outfitted not only with wifi but also with what I like to call the Star Trek package; graphene sheets and carbon nanotubes for maximum surface area.

If we can do that we'll be well on our way to completing the pre-pilot phase and well prepared to build a 30,000 gallon industrial scale prototype at the Metropolitan Sewer District of Cincinnati's wastewater treatment plant.

Check out this letter of support from Cincinnati's Metropolitan Sewer District!

And don’t worry this is NOT a donation. We’ve got some crazy cool perks including, awesome stickers, live stream with our very own genetic Mozart, Pablo Pomosiello, the “polaroid hipster package”, legit blueprints and CAD files, t-shirts, 3D printed figurines, synthetic bio art, a full on reactor and lessons how to use it for $250, DNA messages incased in jewelry, and even a trip to Spain.

Click Here to ZOOM IN on this graphic

Also, Check out some of our swag here (clothing and fun promotional items)

Since you made it this far, you can check out our draft COMIC BOOK script on the house- appropriate for ages 14 and up (language)

If we don't meet our goal we will still begin the process, and simply go as far as the money takes us. The first step is hiring a mechanical engineer to create the CAD (computer-aided design) drawings of the new reactor (should cost less than $10k). Next we have the sensors + wifi installed (this will cost ~$20k). Next the software development must take place (another $20k). The materials and assembly for the reactor itself will actually be less than $500 (graphene and nanotubes will make the next one slightly more expensive). 

The Impact

While our energy supply is in turmoil, more than 1100 TeraWatt hours of energy is stored as waste molecules and transported as wastewater.

The lack of clean water is a crisis that only increases with population growth and development.

Ecosystems and public health are at risk. At risk from mining and drilling - at risk from pollutants, poisons, and pathogens - and we are at risk of resulting economic loss, conflicts, and higher production costs.

Check out the FULL SIZE version of this graphic

We can provide cities the opportunity to reduce their wastewater handling expense (as well as the freshwater used during treatment), while creating their own renewable source of fossil-free energy, plus valuable chemicals that can be processed into renewable products. PLUS the carbon and renewable energy credits (RECs), odor control, and reduction of pathogens! Is this a no-brainer yet?

Water is one of the most fundamental resources of civilization, enabling trillions of dollars in value each year. When combined with reliable electricity and basic raw materials, one can accomplish almost anything. With your support we can help heavy polluters and developed economies deal with waste water and provide rural communities the opportunity to gain value from their waste. This technology can be used to help developing countries steer economic development away from harmful activities like poaching endangered species, deforestation, or drugs, and toward more productive ones. Together, we have the opportunity to implement a system that can relocalize economies, provide high tech jobs, and valuable products allowing developing and developed countries alike to continue moving toward a cleaner future for everyone.

If you are seeking to reduce your carbon footprint, help solve the world's clean water problem, or create renewable electricity then please consider giving to this project! 

As a company with domestic and international expertise (see our Team section below) and a commercial scale pilot currently planned at the Environmental Protection Agency's outpost in Cincinnati, OH, Pilus Energy can help bring this technology around the globe by licensing our “wetware” (intellectual property/synthetic biology expertise) and selling our consumable “hardware” (Genetic Rights Management keys). These GeRM keys provide critical security for the BactoBots by preventing them from being stolen or escaping into the environment.

Genetic Rights Management (GeRM) keys are trade secret, inert, non-toxic molecules that are added to the feedstock before it comes in contact with the Bots. If the keys are not present in the feedstock the BactoBots will self-destruct starting with their DNA and RNA.

If you need a little inspiration in your life

By now you may have noticed that empowerment of local economies is one of the themes of this technology. While we seek to transform the world with our technology, we also want to inspire and enable people to believe they can save the world themselves. Some people just need the right tools and the opportunity to take their fate into their own hands. Those are the people we are counting on to change the world with this technology. People like the women in this video. Or the children in this one. If you're still not inspired to join in on this crazy vision for a world powered by poop maybe Justin Hall-TippingCharlie Chaplin, or Fahad Al-Attiya can light a fire for you.

Other Ways You Can Help

Even if you can’t contribute monetarily you can still help!

We ask that you help get the word out and make some noise about the campaign! This noise is what determines if we get featured on the front page of Indiegogo, which is a huge benefit.

If this project interests you but you can't contribute for whatever reason please share it with your friends! Indiegogo to make it easy with the share tools right below the video, or this custom share page we made makes it easy as well.

And of course, nothing beats good old fashioned word of mouth advertising!

If you want to know more...

Whether you are a potential investor wanting to engage in due diligence or a scientist interested in helping to improve the technology we'd be happy to discuss providing more info such as documents explaining the business plan and model, pro forma financials, whitepapers explaining the science, etc. Please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment on this page or sending a message to info@pilusenergy.com

You can also learn more about how the technology works (and see some pictures of past prototypes), or check out our Facebook            Twitter            YouTube channel      Press Releases, and Blog to see what we've been up to. 

Risks and challenges

Every project has potential obstacles such as production delays and collaborator mishaps. The important thing is to recognize obstacles, address them, and overcome them. If we reach our Indiegogo goals, nothing is going to stop us from accomplishing the objective of this project: scaling up our BactoBot technology.

However, we are worried some people might be apprehensive to support a project whose end goal is just a slightly larger version of the product, but scaling up incrementally is an inevitable and crucial part of the development process before building an industrial scale prototype. Our hope is that with another successful proof-of-concept it will be easier to get traditional funding.

Another challenge is government regulation, which is always a bit of a wild card. There will be safety testing and certifications we must obtain to keep moving forward, and bureaucracy might slow us down. One of the issues here is the fact that the wild-type bacteria (before modification) is “bio-safety level 2”. Despite the fact that we took the teeth away from the junkyard dog (engineered out some of the virulence) we still have to follow these protocols, but we are fully aware of the rules and ready to comply.

All that being said, we at Pilus Energy are fully confident we can overcome these challenges and bring the world an exciting new technology to solve a pressing issue!

"Boring" Stuff, unless you're into this kinda thing :)

Pilus Energy, LLC was founded in January, 2009 in Cincinnati, OH. It is developing economically sustainable alternative clean technology (cleantech) energy solutions. Its parent company, Bacterial Robotics provides the BactoBot™ synthetic biology technology, which is based upon bacterial metabolism that cleans wastewater while producing electricity, important gases, and chemicals. At the cellular scale it does this 17x more efficiently than fermentation. Pilus Energy's business model is to license to water solution experts a low-cost, scalable electrogenic bioreactor (EBR) platform, and then provide the genetics rights management (GeRM™) keys as consumables to the EBR platform. To date, Bacterial Robotics has spent approximately $800k developing the Pilus Energy technology. This money produced a powerful synthetic bacteria we call P.a galvanii, about a dozen lab-scale prototype EBRs, a patent in continuation with divisionals in the US, and patents filed in Hong Kong, China, India, and the European Union. We now need approximately $1 million and 18 months to bring this to the industrial wastewater market.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 95 people in 1 month
21% funded
No time left
$50,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on December 25, 2013
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Select a Perk
  • $1USD
    Be a part of history!

    We will personally thank you on our website. As long as the site stays up your contribution will be commemorated. Pledge $10 and we'll give you a shout out on Facebook, or Twitter.

    15 out of 50000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $10USD

    We'll mail you stickers of RemediBot (Remi for short) the Ford pickup truck of the synthetic biology world, and Galvani, the Tesla model S.

    19 out of 5000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $25USD
    Live Event!

    How to Build a BactoBot Our resident genetic genius Dr. Pablo Pomposiello will host a live stream teaching about the process of making a BactoBot. Receive exclusive access to this event. PLUS a video recording of stream.

    4 out of 150 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $25USD
    The Sentimentalist

    You'll receive a Polaroid picture (so you know your picture is unique) from one of our future pilot sites along with a map with the funder's name on it showing where it was taken (could be India, China, Ohio who knows). As an added bonus if the location is remote you will get some fun foreign stamps! On the back of the map would be a hand written letter about what the photographer was seeing and experiencing as they took the photo. PLUS we'll throw in a mini-EBR

    15 out of 250 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2014
  • $80USD

    Along with stickers of both our BactoBots, Remi and Galvani, you'll also get our "Bioconversion Happens" T-shirt in the color and style of your choice, PLUS a BactoBot 3D printed figurine. An aspiring synthetic biologist would go nuts for this stuff *HINT HINT Mom and Dad* PLUS we'll throw in a mini-EBR

    4 out of 750 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $250USD
    Synthetic Biology Art!

    For the more artistic design buffs you'll have a variety of genetic themed pieces of art to choose from including 3D printed double helixes or the genetic sequence from our patent displayed in a variety of artistic media depending on your preference. We'll have it ready in time for the holidays! Check out this site to see what some of the pieces look like: http://sciencetothepowerofart.com/

    3 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $250USD
    EBR Educational Product

    Along with the previous "Swag" perk you'll also get a disassembled EBR educational product and blueprints. You can use this little fuel cell (~10x bigger than the mini-EBR) to teach others about this technology using bacteria from your own backyard! We'll teach you how!!

    3 out of 150 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $500USD
    Meet the team!

    Come to Cincinnati and take a tour of the EPA Testing & Evaluation facility where we'll be working. You'll meet Pilus Energy and EPA staff, watch the Pilus presentation in person, stand beside a pilot of the technology created by Pilus, and leave with exclusive Pilus materials signed by the whole team. Documentation of this tour will be included in Pilus digital archives. PLUS Pilus Design Package perk, access to $25 live stream. This is one of the best value perks we've got!

    0 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • $600USD
    Be Creative!

    Declare your love for someone or leave a message for your kids to decode in ten years time!! You will receive a vial containing a tweet size (140 characters) of your desired message printed in DNA! We will use Craig Venter's ASCII->DNA translation table to transform the message to DNA. We can then send you the vial or encase it in a jewelry. If you come up with a good message this could make an AMAZING Valentine's Day gift..

    0 out of 75 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $750USD
    BactoBot Septic System License

    You will receive a personal license to Pilus Energy's BactoBot platform plus an EBR. Do not be fooled by the bland title and description, this is the real deal giving you the right to use our BactoBots in a septic system size reactor, which would probably be big enough for the organic waste of several households. With this perk you can be a true early adopter, possibly the first in the history of mankind to utilize synthetic biology for waste remediation in this manner.

    8 out of 75 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2014
  • $9,999USD

    Your name (or anything under 30 characters) will be written, in DNA, into the genome of one of our BactoBots! As part of the DNA construct we will add a watermark section using the same methods used by Craig Venter's team. We will add the names or any remarks from this group of backers in DNA to the final design and do PR around the messages - a unique opportunity to spread your message! Plus we'll pretty much give you free reign to choose from any of the previous perks.

    0 out of 15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $10,000USD
    The VIP Experience

    1) We will put you and three friends up in a 5 star hotel in Cincinnati where you can see where it all began, meet with some of the founders, and see all that the Midwest has to offer (King's Island has some of THE best rollercoasters anywhere. OR 2) For $15k we will fly you and a friend to Madrid to hang out with our genetic superstar Dr. Pomposiello where he will show you all the secrets of biotechnology. You'll also have catered lunches, a spa day, and ride scooters around Madrid.

    0 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $400,000USD
    The Philanthromanitarian

    Ok Indiegogo won't let us put in more than $10K but for $400K We will build an EBR in a rural community (pretty much) anywhere in the world. One option would be to collaborate on a project in Rwanda with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, who we have considered working with in the past. That being said if you're paying you can decide where!

    0 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2015
  • $1,000,000USD
    Save the world


    0 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2015
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