BioLargo, Inc. (OTC: BLGO) is an undiscovered $30 million market cap company that is capturing the attention of big industry players and appears destined to soon capture the attention of mainstream investors. BioLargo has developed and patented a breakthrough water treatment technology called the “AOS” (Advanced Oxidation System). It promises to cost-effectively solve some of the biggest problems facing the water industry, a market with an estimated size of $695.9B in 2018. Seven years in the making, BioLargo has already received over 65 government grants for development of the AOS, and reports third-party validation of its claims from well-known water experts. The AOS is just beginning multiple pilot projects in large industries that have the potential to lead to widespread industry adoption. The AOS is projected to be the most cost-effective answer to remove a number of problematic contaminants in water.
Problems in the Water Treatment Industry
How Well do Current Water Treatment Technologies Work?
The United States has long been considered a provider of some of the highest quality drinking water in the world, but the recent water crises of Flint Michigan, Toledo Ohio, and Austin Texas, indicate that the country’s aging infrastructure may be critically outdated and in need of upgrading. In 2017, the National Resources Defense Councilpublished a report titled, “THREATS ON TAP: WIDESPREAD VIOLATIONS HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR INVESTMENT IN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE AND PROTECTIONS.” The publication reported over 80,000 drinking water violations that were identifiedin over 18,000 community water systems. These widespread problems with the water infrastructure have contributed to an environment where many Americans simply prefer to drink bottled water. In fact, it has been estimated that Americans spent over $18 billion in 2017 for bottled water that costs 900 times more than tap water. Clearly there is a strong need for affordable water treatment technologies that can empower municipalities to upgrade their systems.
Contaminants and Current Water Treatment Technologies
Lead, mercury, giardia, and cryptosporidium are some of the better known water contaminants, but are only a few of the more than 200 EPA-listedhazardous contaminants that must be guarded against in water supplies. Additionally, a worrisome new class of contaminants called “micropollutants” is emerging and is reinforcing the need for new and improved water treatment solutions. Micropollutants are widespread, hard to treat, and have detrimental health and environmental effects even at extremely low concentrations in water. Currently, municipal water treatment systems technologies including chlorination, carbon filtration, membrane filtration, UV radiation, and ozonation, fall short of being able to address these emerging contaminants of interest.
Water Treatment Plants Were Not Designed to Remove Micropollutants
Micropollutants are a class of chemicals that come from substances like pharmaceuticals, hormones, pesticides and industrial chemicals. They are pervasive and non-biodegradable and therefore are finding their way into almost all water supplies. Micropollutants are so-called because they have can have an outsized environmental effect while present at very low concentrations (hence “micro”), and they cannot be effectively removed with conventional wastewater treatment technologies. The continued release of micropollutants with wastewater effluent is believed to cause long-term hazards as these contaminants tend to “bio-accumulate”, meaning they accumulate within living organisms.
Scientific American published an article, “Only Half of Drugs Removed by Sewage Treatment” which details studies where scientists reviewed 10 years of data from wastewater treatment plants around the world to assess how well they removed 42 micropollutants of interest from water. Six particular chemicals were found to be poorly eliminated in treated water, including an herbicide and several drugs. Additionally, common drugs like caffeine, acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol), and estriol (related to estrogen) were also found to commonly be present in water discharged from water treatment plants.
The AOS Could Help Remedy these Problems
AOS Clean Water Technology
BioLargo’s AOS represents a major technical breakthrough in water treatment that could help remedy problems in the water treatment industry. While other oxidation-based water treatment technologies exist and are used for disinfection and for breaking down organic compounds, there has never been a system like BioLargo’s Advanced Oxidation System. The AOS has reportedly demonstrated that it is substantially more powerful and cost-effective than any other advanced water treatment technology and has shown a high degree of efficacy against a wide variety of water contaminants including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, organic contaminants, and . . . micropollutants.
The AOS is a novel spin on advanced oxidation – it uses a proprietary physical configuration, highly conductive carbon filter materials, and advanced iodine electrochemistry to rapidly oxidize target water contaminants. The AOS offers value over competing technologies for three main reasons: 1) it is projected to cost less, 2) it uses less electricity and is therefore more environmentally friendly, and 3) it eliminates biological contaminants (i.e. viruses, protozoa, bacteria) AND hard-to-treat organic contaminants and micropollutants, all in one system. Several years of studies conducted by BioLargo Water scientists and engineers have demonstrated that the AOS outperforms competing water treatment technologies while using substantially less electricity. BioLargo reports that the AOS is also modular, cost effective and scalable.
The initial gateway markets being targeted for the AOS first pilot work are: food & beverage processing wastewater, oil and gas process wastewater, micro-brewery wastewater, and storm water.
AOS Test Data Confirms Breakthrough to Treat and Reduce Micropollutants
In an important press release the company put out in November, BioLargo announced that its AOS had been shown effective against certain micropollutants associated with municipal wastewater: 17β-estradiol and benzo[a]pyrene, and that the AOS could even reduce the toxic effects associated with these compounds in water artificially contaminated with them.
From the press release:
“BioLargo announcedthat in a study conducted by Dr. Greg Goss, an expert in aquatic toxicology at the University of Alberta, in collaboration with BioLargo's Canadian subsidiary BioLargo Water, Inc., Dr. Goss examined the environmental safety of AOS-treated municipal wastewater to demonstrate it did not produce toxic by-products, and whether the AOS' ability to eliminate pharmaceuticals from water would improve the environmental safety and water quality of municipal wastewater ''spiked'' with high concentrations of micropollutant contaminants of particular concern to regulators.
This study succeeded on both fronts, demonstrating that water treated by the AOS technology was non-toxic to certain aquatic organisms typically used for testing whole effluent toxicity for the EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits Program, such as Daphnia and rainbow trout, as well as zebrafish embryos. Additionally, the AOS eliminated biomarker responses of municipa006C wastewater that has been experimentally contaminated (spiked) with compounds (benzo[a]pyrene and 17β-estradiol) known to negatively affect those organisms.
Further, the study showed that the AOS reduces the well-documented aberrant endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) effects of 17β-estradiol (an estrogen derivative) on rainbow trout. AOS was able to reduce both the normal EDC effects of municipal wastewater on rainbow trout and was also successful in removing 17β-estradiol from municipal wastewater spiked with much higher levels of the hormone.
These results represent promising evidence that the AOS can remove micropollutants that are an emerging concern to the water treatment industry. Given that micropollutants are bioactive and persistent contaminants that are not removed by traditional wastewater treatment methods, AOS has the potential to fill an important niche treatment gap with growing demand: effective and cost-efficient removal of micropollutants in wastewater treatment.”
Outlook for BioLargo’s AOS
AOS Proven Effective with Real World Wastewater
The AOS has already been proven effective against a wide variety of real-world wastewaters in proof-of-claim studies done by BioLargo Water scientists.In January 2018, the Innovative Conservation Program – Metropolitan Water District of Southern California published this report on the AOS system that was used to treat water from poultry processing and from secondary municipal wastewater. This project was conducted with financial assistance from a grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Central Arizona Project, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Southern California Gas Company, and the Western Resource Advocates through Metropolitan’s Innovative Conservation Program.
The 12-month project allowed BioLargo to demonstrate and scale up the treatment of poultry wastewater with the AOS treatment train. It showcased the AOS’ ability to produce energy and water savings in the State of California, which could lead to more environmentally-friendly and less costly water treatment for poultry broiler operations. This work has also laid the groundwork for conceptual design of a field pilot that will allow BioLargo Water to complete a full techno-economic assessment of the AOS platform in the poultry market.
As for the treatment of secondary municipal wastewater, the preliminary trials from these studies have helped identify another potential application where the AOS platform can yield significant energy savings while maintaining a desired level of performance.
Pilots, Pilots, Pilots
BioLargo’s AOS is now being demonstrated in the field in several pre-commercial pilot projects. Anyone familiar with the development cycle of new industrial technology will attest that this is a crucial step in the commercialization of a novel technology. Demonstration pilots provide critically important data about A) the costs – in CAPEX and OPEX, B) the real-world effectiveness, and C) the real-world lifespan of the technology being tested, D) maintenance requirements, and E) reliability. It’s a necessary step for deployment of any new technology, and it paves the way for commercial trials and commercial launch.
The AOS is now involved in three pre-commercial trials. One is in a poultry processing facility, where the technology will treat highly contaminated wastewater to allow it to be reused or safely be discharged to the environment. The second is in a micro-brewery, where the AOS is eliminating bacteria and hard-to-treat organics to enable safe discharge and even water reuse. The third, recently announced pilot, will show the AOS capable of treating capture storm water to enable water reuse. Storm water treatment is an enormous emerging industry in the US, representing an estimated $3-6B in annual revenues, with millions being spent by government programs to enable storm water capture and reuse in water-scarce states like California.
Following its pre-commercial demonstration pilots, the AOS is will be engaged in numerous commercial pilots, then full-blown commercialization. BioLargo has a few options for its commercial strategy. It can deploy a complete water treatment solution, which is commonly referred to by industry as a treatment train, or it can supply its AOS as a component to full service providers. The company has selected the food & beverage wastewater treatment industry as its first target market. This is a market that represents an estimated $6B in annual revenues. With continued success, the company intends to then launch its product into other water treatment sectors, including oil and gas, industrial, municipal, and more with an emphasis on finding partners that can use the AOS for its competitive advantage. The AOS has the potential to offer cost and energy-efficient treatment of water and wastewater in countless applications, meaning the opportunity is enormous.
More About BioLargo
BioLargo has two business units that are commercially active and approaching profitability: its industrial odor and VOC control business unit and its professional engineering services company. It is also developing blockbuster products for large markets in water treatment and advanced wound care. Both are expected to go commercial in 2019.
Odor-No-More, Inc., their air quality/odor control division, is already generating early sales in excess of $1 million dollars and is strongly positioned to capture a large portion of the multi-billion-dollar industrial odor control market because their Cupridyne Clean® is an environmentally safe odor control product that works without using any masking fragrances. The company reports that CupriDyne Clean can save customers 25 to 50% per month. During 2018, the company added engineering design, construction, installation, maintenance and service bundles to supply a complete client solution for odor control. In a short time since launching its products in May of 2016, BioLargo has signed National Purchasing Agreements with 4 top waste handling giants. Sales are early but pointing to some very big numbers.
The Clyra Medical Technologies business unit has developed what might be the biggest breakthrough in wound care in recent history. Iodine is known as the most powerful disinfectant in the doctor’s toolbox, but it is only used as a last resort when wounds are life threatening because traditional iodine products are toxic to healthy cells. Clyra has developed a proprietary form of iodine that is just as powerful yet has no toxicity to any healthy cells. The company reports other key features that enhance the value proposition including biofilm efficacy, extended efficacy and more. The market for wound care is about $18 billion and Clyra is awaiting an FDA approval with a long string of products to follow. 2019 is expected to be a very big year for Clyra.
Clyra announced earlier this year that they are acquiring a stem cell company with impressive results using stem cells to promote rapid healing. Combined, Clyra believes they will have the best wound care products in the world.
BioLargo Engineering and Science Technologies, BLEST, is an engineering firm where the principal engineers have over 200 years combined experience in the industries that BioLargo serves, such as water and air treatment. BLEST is expected to become profitable in 2019 and provides services that aid in accelerating BioLargo sales.
Edison Group recently began following and providing coverage of BioLargo. Their initial report says, “BioLargo made progress on multiple fronts during Q3 and subsequently toward becoming a fully-fledged, diversified technology company. First, it announced that Clyra had received feedback from the FDA regarding the data necessary to complete the 510(K) application process, which should be finished in the next six months. Second, the company broke revenue records in October with BioLargo Engineering, Science & Technologies (BLEST) having its first break-even month. Finally, progress continues toward the 2019 launch of the AOS with the independent validation of the system’s capacity to eliminate micropollutants.”
BioLargo’s 10Q filing for the quarter ending September 30, 2018, reports cash of $533,542 against accounts payable of $361,065. Convertible Notes were reduced from $5,248,847 to $1,383,108. Sales were $785,929 and on track to break one million dollars for the year for the first time in the company’s history. One million dollars may not seem like much, but sales can grow very rapidly after the first million-dollar barrier. The entire 10Q filing can be seen here.
BioLargo has reduced risk substantially by developing products that are now entering early stages of commercialization. Shareholders should be aware that there is a plethora of risk that almost all companies face and a full disclosure of risks is listed in SEC filings.
After close to a decade of heavy lifting toward product R&D, BioLargo has finally found its first big commercial opportunity that is unfolding now in the odor and VOC control market and is on the threshold of commercialization with several blockbuster products fulfilling unmet needs in advanced wound care, and water treatment. BioLargo’s products are each capable of generating billion-dollar-plus sales and combined have the potential for BioLargo to enjoy enormous growth. Management’s record has shown them to be highly skilled, focused and dedicated toward building a company that makes life better for the general population, but has also created an investment vehicle with the potential to make life better for investors too.