Team Profile: Red Ox Systems

Posted on Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Team Name: Red Ox Systems
Team Members: David Kohn YC ’11, Claire Henly YC ‘12
Industries: Oil and gas wastewater treatment/commodity chemical production/electricity production.

The Pitch

Red Ox Systems designs and commercializes electrochemical processes to turn costly and harmful industrial wastes into valuable products.   Our Electrochemical Desalination Cell (EDC) is a novel, patent pending, electrochemical process developed at Yale University by the founders that:

  1. Generates  ~14 kWh of electricity per m3 brine using only 10MJ gas per kWh 
  2. Desalinates waste brines by 4/5 or more allowing over 90% recovery
  3. Synthesizes bulk inorganics that can be sold in commodity markets

The Team

Claire Henly, Management Team (YC ’12)

Claire is currently finishing a B.S. in Environmental Engineering at Yale. Having previously worked for McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs, and BHP Billiton, she brings business and scientific rigor to the team. She will be responsible for day-to-day operations as well as business and customer development. 

David Kohn, Management Team (YC ’11)

As lead inventor of the EDC, David brings passion and know-how to the Red Ox team. He received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Yale last year has stayed on to develop the EDC and Red Ox. He will be responsible for technological development and strategy.

André D. Taylor, Advisor-Electrochemistry

Co-inventor of the EDC, his research focuses on nanomaterial synthesis and assembly for electrochemical systems. He recently received a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering. He will advise on electrocatalysis and electrode design.

Meny Elimelech, Advisor-Desalination

Co-inventor of the EDC, his research at Yale focuses on osmotic desalination processes. He helped found and advises Oasys Water, a forward osmosis desalination company. He will advise on desalination markets and membrane technology.

Thomas Livingston, Advisor-Legal

Former Vice President and Secretary of Applied Biosystems Inc. He has recently served as a key mentor to two successful ventures licensing Yale technology. He acted as mentor for Red Ox in the NSF’s Innovation Corps program and advises on business and legal strategy.

What problems did you see that led you to develop Red Ox?

In developing the EDC we were inspired by a cradle-to-cradle mindset. We wanted to find opportunities to turn one industry’s waste into another’s input.

The oil and gas industry produces more than 21 billion barrels of extremely saline wastewater in the United States every year. US oil and gas companies currently spend more than $5 billion annually treating and disposing of this wastewater (a large portion of this market comes from shale gas). Red Ox thinks of this ‘waste’ stream as a revenue stream.

How is the Red Ox solution different?

In the Marcellus (the largest shale gas deposit in North America), two methods are currently being used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas. The first is deep well injection and the second is thermal concentration. Deep well injection is relatively cheap, however the closest disposal wells to fracking sites in Pennsylvania are in Ohio and trucking costs can be as much as $10-$14/bbl. Currently available thermal concentrators are just as expensive mostly because of high energy costs. A cost effective, energy efficient, near zero liquid discharge solution for treating saline wastewater from oil and gas production does not exist.

Red Ox’s EDC is different because it produces electricity, instead of consuming it, it recovers a high percentage of the wastewater as freshwater, and it recovers valuable chemicals from the salts in the water.


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