Our vision is to help inventors, early stage businesses and established companies to accelerate the commercialization and market adoption of innovative water technologies that will contribute to global water sustainability in our lifetime.
Water Planet exists to advance next-generation water purification, reuse and desalination solutions needed to achieve global water sustainability in our lifetime.
Our strategy is to partner with our clients to be true partners, more than simply consultants or advisors. This means that we have a stake in the outcome, and therefore, are fully invested in the outcome just like our clients.
The genesis of Water Planet goes back to the summer of 2009, when UCLA Engineering Professor Eric Hoek was introduced to Hollywood legend Kevin Costner. After the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, Costner was inspired to create a new technology to help cleanup massive oil spills. He invested millions of dollars to commercialize an advanced oil-water separation technology for oil spill cleanup (now known as CINC separators). But since no major spills had occurred up to that time, Costner asked Hoek if he could find another use for the separation technology.
Hoek contacted his old friend and University of Alberta, Canada Engineering Professor Subir Bhattacharjee – an expert in water management in the Oil Sands of Alberta – and the two began a process of basic research and discovery. By the spring of 2010, Hoek and Bhattacharjee had optimized the application of CINC separators to oil & gas produced water treatment, and Hoek had discovered a new membrane material for eliminating oil from the CINC effluent. This new membrane material would eventually become known as PolyCera® and commercialized by Water Planet.
And then, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred. It flowed for nearly five months in the Gulf of Mexico, releasing about 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into one of the U.S.’s most culturally and economically important natural water bodies. It remains the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. An estimated 53,000 barrels per day escaped from the well causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.
Water Planet’s founders were intimately involved in developing and implementing real-time solutions to help deal with this crisis, including skimming and separating crude oil from the ocean water, and remediating the affected marshlands. Through their work with the clean-up and remediation teams, the team built a deep level of expertise and experience alongside a clear sense of purpose.
Watch the video below for more information on our work to clean up the Gulf spill.
After the spill, Costner, Hoek, Bhattacharjee and Rod Lake (Silicon valley serial entrepreneur and Costner’s business partner of more than 35 years) founded Water Planet. The knowledge gained about rapid development and deployment of water technologies helped lay the foundations for a highly successful contract R&D and engineering business. From 2011 to 2015, Water Planet completed over 50 projects including development of proprietary water treatment process inventions for several large multi-national corporations, product validation testing for several water & process technology startups, troubleshooting O&M support at dozens of municipal and industrial water treatment plants, as well as the designing, building and delivering a dozen custom-engineered water treatment solutions for automotive, oil & gas, refining and pharmaceutical customers.
In the background, Water Planet’s engineers and scientists developed a proprietary integrated mechanical and membrane system for treating oil & gas produced water (IMS-5000), controlled by its proprietary IntelliFlux control software, another in-house invention. In addition, after acquiring PolyCera Technologies, LLC and under license from UCLA, Water Planet began commercializing the first PolyCera ultrafiltration membrane product.
In 2015, Water Planet took on an $8.6M investment led by Air Liquide’s Venture Capital Fund, Bluestem Capital, The Wolfen Group and ActOne Ventures to bolster its PolyCera commercialization efforts and to accelerate sales of IMS-5000 systems powered by IntelliFlux. By 2016, it became clear that the IMS-5000 systems business would need to transform itself into a water treatment-as-a-service business to really scale.
In early 2017, Water Planet formally exited the systems business and later that year sold off MembranePRO Services to a group of private investors, while retaining 100% ownership of both IntelliFlux and PolyCera technologies. In late 2017, it also became clear that PolyCera Membranes and IntelliFlux Controls were radically different types of businesses with different financial needs, technical staffing, and sales models, so the decision was made to spin out each as two standalone technology pure-plays.
Today, Water Planet exists to advance next-generation water purification, reuse and desalination solutions needed to achieve global water sustainability in our lifetime. Commercializing technology to help save the planet’s water is the purpose that drives the Water Planet team.
It is clear that achieving global water sustainability is a grand challenge.
Eric Hoek, PH.D.
Dr. Eric Hoek has over 20 years of experience in water treatment research, education, philanthropic, consulting and entrepreneurial activities.
Dr. Hoek has co-founded numerous successful water technology businesses including NanoH2O, NanoMem Consulting, Water Planet, PolyCera, IntelliFlux and MembranePRO. Dr. Hoek has been an engineering professor at UC Riverside and UCLA since 2002 with over 130 peer-reviewed scientific publications and over 70 patents filed globally. He is co-editor of the John Wiley & Sons Encyclopedia of Membrane Science and the Editor in Chief of the npj Clean Water – a Nature publishing group online, open access scientific journal.
Dr. Hoek has a Ph.D. in Engineering from Yale University and completed UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, Executive MBA Program.
Subir Bhattacharjee, PH.D.
Dr. Subir Bhattacharjee possesses over 25 years of experience in water technology research, education, philanthropic, consulting and entrepreneurial activities.
Dr. Bhattacharjee has co-founded numerous successful water technology ventures including EnVivAqua, Water Planet, PolyCera, IntelliFlux and MembranePRO. Dr. Bhattacharjee was a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the NSERC Center for Water Quality Management in the Oil Sands at the University of Alberta from 2000 to 2014. Dr. Bhattacharjee has over 120 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 12 patents filed globally.
Dr. Bhattacharjee has a Ph.D. from IIT Delhi, India and post-doctoral fellowships at UCLA and Yale University.
In business since 2011, Water Planet, its products and its founders have been recognized globally as a leading innovative company, breakthrough new products and world-class thought leaders.
April 26, 2017
Water Planet Named Breakthrough Water Technology Company of the Year Water Planet, a California-based company that markets the world’s first smart membrane products, has received…Read more
March 31, 2017
Water Planet CEO Eric Hoek listed by WaterWorld Magazine as Top 25 Leaders in Water After three years, WWi magazine’s Top 25 Water Leaders series…Read more
April 25, 2016
Water Planet awarded Winner of Water Technology Idol at Global Water Awards Water Planet and the IntelliFlux automated self-adaptive control technology selected as “technology could change the…Read more
July 1, 2015
Water Planet selected as Global Cleantech 100 Ones to Watch The Ones to Watch list seeks to highlight a group of upcoming companies that are…Read more
July 1, 2014
Water Planet Receives Oil & Gas Awards – West Coast Water Management Company of the Year Oil & Gas Awards Judges Comments “With the increasing use…Read more
July 1, 2013
Water Planet Awarded Distinction Award at Global Water Awards Water Planet’s Lee Portillo presented PolyCera, a new polymeric membrane material that exhibits properties commonly associated…Read more