Monday, June 8, 2009

Questions, questions....

There have been some very valid questions from multiple parties about the lifespan of one filter unit. Below is a paper I cited in both my EPA and thesis research that explores this topic.

An experimental study on the water-purification properties
of porous concrete
Sung-Bum Parka,*, Mang Tiab
aDepartment of Civil Engineering, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
bDepartment of Civil and Coastal Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Received 19 November 2002; accepted 1 July 2003

Units of pervious concrete were tested in fairly neutral waters to test the strength of the concrete after constant immersion as well as the ability of bacteria housed in the concrete to remove/reduce Total Phosphorous and Total Nitrogen.

The pervious units were immersed in neutral pH water for 90 days (1 unit per tank). The pH after immersion (day 1) began at 12 and settled to 9 at 90 days. The pervious concrete units did not use standard type II portland cement, instead they used varying types of fly ash to lower the pH to allow the bacteria to be able to survive.

Based on comparing the pervious concrete units in the above paper and the units in my experiments and factoring in the use of unaltered type II portland cement in my experiments, I can comfortably say that I would expect one unit to have a lifespan in excess of 7 months in waters with a pH greater than 6. Less in more acidic waters of course.

But also consider that in all cases except for humanitarian, more than one unit would be in use. And as the units initially exposed to the influent would began to expire, units further down the array, which have been exposed to the elevated pH waters coming from the initial units, would pick up the slack.

And the units tested in the above paper were completely immersed. In natural conditions, high influent volume would only occur during spring and possibly a monsoon season (which would most likely not be as high as during simultaneous snow melt and spring precipitation). So much of the time, I would estimate that an array would only be 50% saturated at most outside of the high flow season(s).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Official Business Plan

Corporate Directory

Liquid Asset Development, LLC
EIN 26-3598820

Gregory Michael Majersky

Karen B. Frye

Senior Advisory Staff
Dr. Randall Tagg, Physics Chair, University of Colorado Denver

China Advisory Staff
Larry Sather
Sophia Wang

Legal Counsel
Jamie Sheridan, Holland and Hart, LLP (US)
Jeff Bergmann, Solubility Pty. Ltd (Australia)

Registered Address
777 Ash Street
Suite 307
Denver, CO 80220


This work is copyrighted intellectual property and all technical material is under patent pending protection with the US Patent and Trademark Office. No part may be reproduced or disseminated by any method or process, written or verbal, without prior written permission from the President of Liquid Asset Development, LLC. All inquiries concerning use of any part of this document should be addressed to:

The President

777 Ash Street
Suite 307
Denver, CO 80220


Every part of this report must be treated as confidential. Much of the information contained within this report, and used for the underlying analysis, is of a commercially sensitive nature. This report may not be released or circulated in any form without the express written permission of the copyright owner. Being in receipt of this report you must be aware that release of this report without permission could cause Liquid Asset Development, LLC and related parties material damage and you may be held liable if your actions have caused this report to be circulated without permission.


Liquid Asset Development, LLC does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication. Liquid Asset Development, LLC has made its best endeavours to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data used herein, however makes no warranties as to the accuracy of data herein nor accepts any liability for any action taken or decision made based on the contents of this report.

Executive Summary

Liquid Asset Development, LLC is the result of nearly two years of EPA funded research on turning pervious concrete (concrete without fine particles such as sand) into a water filter that can utilized for hygienic applications, low cost recovery of metals from mine waste, desalinization, ocean mining pre-treatment, and removal of phosphates from agricultural runoff. The listed utilization of the filter is not inclusive of all commercial uses indicating extensive potential for financial and humanitarian returns. Additional advantages of this filter include the infrastructure for design, production, and distribution of this technology already exists around the world.

Operational Objectives:
2009 - 2010: Build upon previous research, increase product and business plan visibility, engage potential partners for commercial use.
Mid 2011: Negotiate first IP transfer contract, receive payment as negotiated.
2011 – 2013: Work with client while using publicity from the first deal to drive future contracts.

Based on research, identified the initial industry and humanitarian uses of the filter are:

Mining - chemical and metal processing for economical waste water treatment and metals recovery, sea-bed mineral extraction pre-treatment.
Governmental, Commercial, and Industrial – Desalinization, removal of toxic manufacturing wastes, and hygienic pre and post treatment of drinking water.

The demand for clean water for drinking, hygiene, and irrigation will grow with necessity as resources become limited and overused. Economical metals recovery can be a revenue generator for companies and nations as well as improving overall economic development. Sustainability is becoming a demand and a necessity for local and multi-national businesses and governments.

Revenue streams potential identified are:

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Metal Recovery - The estimated value of metals lost to AMD in the US at $200 million and globally at almost $40 billion per year (based on a 2004 Pennsylvania DEP study by Joe Rathman).
Desalinization – Expected global investment in reverse osmosis desalinization is $25 billion USD by 2010 and over $56 billion USD by 2015 and with an estimated yearly operating cost of $17 billion USD. (

The market value of clean water for hygienic/potable use is more than the value of human life. Without sufficient clean water death occurs. Global GDP is dependent upon clean water because without it productivity drops significantly. No geographical limit exists in the market of producing clean water because it is a global necessity for economic development and life.

Liquid Asset Development will gain shares in the AMD market within 1-2 years and the desalinization industry in 2-3 years. Negotiated contracts will involve a complete but specific use technology transfer with a defined period of support, similar to how open source software is sold and supported. The revenue structure will depend on the following:

Within the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia, the legal system allows a negotiated payment structure between Liquid Asset Development and private parties. Anticipated potential of $10 million in contracts is projected for the third year of market development.

Potential Negotiated Payment Structures:

1. Upfront payment and annual installments or,
2. Large percentage of future royalties from reselling an improved/integrated version of the filter into other technologies.

Payment would occur up front when licensing the filter to non-US based entities or entities not based in countries with a developed English legal system and NGOs. In return, the foreign/NGO entities enter into the agreement with Liquid Asset Development in the US giving jurisdiction within the United States.

Liquid Asset Development’s exit strategy recognizes that market saturation for the filter technology may occur in 10-20 years. It is the intent of Liquid Asset Development LLC to use assets and cash earned during licensing to evolve into a sustainable holding company of green/clean technologies surviving market saturation of the initial filtration technology.

From pure research into business...

Ok, putting up graphs would be alot of work for the blog. Alot of cutting and pasting anyways. The following link will take you to the results and important details of both the 2007 EPA P3 experiment and my 2008 master's thesis research:

Now, after returning from the EPA conference in Washington DC in April, I went ahead and applied for a US patent and an international "pre-patent" under IPT rules. Basically an IPT application is necessary before applying for a patent in countries that have signed the IPT. And of course you pay an extra couple of thousand for the convenience.

Despite what you think, the review process does not begin right away. Your application sits in queue for "a while". I applied for my patent in July 2007 and the USPTO began officially reviewing it in December 2007. They do send you a letter telling you that the official review process has begun and they also post your application, including your claims, drawings, etc up on the internet. Fortunately, my formulas aren't up on the internet.

Unfortunately, in August 2008 our hero did get word that his IPT application was rejected. But that doesn't mean that the US patent gets rejected automatically. Sometimes the same person reviews both apps, sometimes not. Either way, I know some of the criteria that they may be using as a gauge to determine how patentable my idea is.

What is also fortunately for me is that I applied when I did. The U. of Alabama Tuscaloosa expressed their intentions at a NCIIA conference a few months after I filed my application to look into filing their own application for a pervious concrete water filter.

So the patent pending status of my filter will drag on at the speed of bureacracy. Oh well, no news is good news, right?

On the business end, back in the fall of 2007 I had my first crack at a "non-disclosure act" (NDA) with an incubator in Highlands Ranch, CO. Unfortunately, when it came down to the details of the NDA, my attorney and I only had two questions and they wouldn't even address those two questions.

BIG RED FLAG !!!!!!!!!

No one doing a deal with you should be so resistant to answering a few questions.

But I did manage to score a NDA through an old China contact who lives in Australia. He is associated with a guy named Heinz Dahl, who apparently is a pretty big name in Australian and now global wind power. He was even a keynote speaker at the most recent World Wind Energy conference in Toronto, Canada and is currently the President of the World Wind Energy Association.
Not too shabby for a snowboarder, eh? So Liquid Asset Development LLC has a toehold in Australia. This icebreaker has segued into interest from Doug Cisneros, who deals in the food trade between the US and the Middle East and a VC representative in Shanghai, China named Larry Sather who I also met while living in China.

So while no money has been made yet, contacts are being made and interest is being expressed.

This interest has required me to come up with a business plan and revenue projection. I'll post the biz plan in a seperate blog entry, but due to many zeroes and minuses on the revenue projection, I'll keep that to myself ;-)))))

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Getting a gov't grant and the first trial of the filter

Now we can get to the stages involving hard research and analysis. Before the
spring 2007 semester started, I approached Dr. Durham about this concept. He
was skeptical but gave me some literature from the concrete industry regarding
pervious concrete. The literature basically pointed out what I have already
posted: pervious concrete was already being used in some simple structures to
improve drainage and the quality of that drainage by trapping large diameter

Dr. Durham also directed me to Dr. Anu Ramaswami, who at the time was taking over the environmental engineering side of the university's civil engineering department. After a brief description of my concept, she suggested I apply to the EPA's P3 (People, Places, Prosperity) research grant competition.

This is a two stage competition, the first stage is a $10,000 grant and the second
stage is a $75,000 grant, with the goal being to initially develop
sustainable/green technologies or educational programs that can be used to
assist developing communities around the world and be profitable as well.
In addition to information about this competition, I was also informed that I had
only 4 days to develop, type and submit an abstract. I turned down
snowboarding in great conditions to hunker down on the couch and hammer
out whatever came to mind. Without much of an environmental or science
background beyond my BS, which I received 9 years prior and did not use in the
work force and relying on the business development skills I honed to a razor's
edge in Shanghai, I managed to bang out what I will honestly call "something"
and send it off to the EPA.

The copy that I turned over the Civil Engineering Dept got less than stellar
reviews, but in the end I did receive the money and managed to turn a few heads
in the process.

So now Dr. Durham and I get down to work. We also enlist the aid of Dr. David
Mays, who has hands on research experience in fluid flow. The two of us
basically got a crash course in filtration through a granular medium (which is
what the filter basically is). What came next was a barage of variables that had
to be determined so that I could get another variable in order to allow me to
calculate the needed filter length for a list of biological, organic and inorganic
pollutants. The process of coming up with a spreadsheet also took another 4
days, over a weekend of course. Once I came up with that, Dr. Durham
determined how much concrete we would need and we set about making a mold
and getting the materials for the experiment.

The chemicals were easy to buy, and I wanted to see what desalinization
potential this filter might have, so in addition to copper and iron (typical
pollutants in water) I added 35,000 ppm of sea salt. Thank goodness I had a big
container of the stuff at home (great for seasoning veggies and noodles).
I also had to reproduce biological contamination, but without the hazard of
handling E. coli. So I used another species found on human skin and in our
mouths, Micrococcus luteus. This bactria thrives on our skin and is similar in
diameter to E. coli except that M. luteus is spherical rather than conical and has
no large flagella, so in effect it is a smaller particle.

Instead of trying to grow a specific number of bacteria, I went with the idea that polluted waters would typically have concentrations of microorganism that are "too high to count".
So I approached the university Biology department and enlisted their aid (I'll
mention the lab manager's name once I look it up in my P3 paper, which is not in
front of me right now). He basically cultured a thick soup of bacteria in broth
overnight. After asking some questions, I decided that I could approach the large bacteria
concentration as a "total suspended solids" value. I then measured the original
TTS value and diluted it by a factor of 10, 5 times and tested the filter separately
against the bacteria contaminated water and the salts contaminated water.

In my next post I'll show graphs of the results as well as some of the write up.
Unfortunately I did not win the second round of funding at the April
demonstration, but I did attract considerable of attention from many very
experienced scientists ( I counted about 20). To add to the heat I was
completely mentally exhausted being bombarded with questions I had yet to
consider at that time.

BTW, if you are really into the whole global environmental/water thing, you need to see this film.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Raw Innovation

Before I go on to discuss the actual design process, lab tests, results,
applications and such, you must be wondering to yourself "why concrete for a
water filter"? Well, this is what I was wondering myself when I first began thinking about how
such a filter would work, but also what the advantages and disadvantages of
using such a filter would be. And after reading the previous post, you can all come to the conclusion that I made it a "mission" of sorts to come up with a cheap water filter made of a
universal material available to everyone.

Think about this. Concrete has been used in one form or another since the
Sphinx and the Pyramids were built. The Great Wall, elements of ancient
western hemisphere civilizations as well. Portland cement as we know it today
was developed by the Romans who mixed quick lime into their mix to allow the
concrete for their roads, aquaducts and other structures to cure and become
usable in a shorter amount of time and even in wet conditions.

And over time, concrete became and has remained the global standard for
building materials. This means that around the world, there are skilled people
who know how to engineer and work concrete for their local needs, even in the
poorest countries. I've met people who have traveled to small villages where the
locals mix concrete on prepared dirt surfaces and place it for basic structures.
So this is not so much a case of re-inventing the wheel as it is teaching an old
dog a new trick.

I brought this idea to Dr. Stephan Durham, a faculty member at CU Denver who
specializes in concrete. It should be of no surprise he was a bit skeptical at first,
but he did give me some literature on something called "pervious concrete".
Pervious concrete has been around for about 30 years, but recently it has
become more "vogue" for lack of a better term as local and state governments
become increasingly aware of the need to improve surface water quality and
take a look at non-traditional sources of pollution like construction sites,
parking lots, building runoff, gas station surfaces and sidewalks.
Pervious concrete, which is basically standard concrete with most or all of the
fine grains not included in the mix, resembles a grey rice krispie treat in appearance.

The mechanism for improved water quality begins with surface water containing
a variety of organic and inorganic pollutants. The water runs over the surface
of pervious concrete and trickles through the pores. During this process larger
diameter pollutants such as drops of autmobile fluid, brake material, dust, etc are
removed (though not completely). When the water meets the much less
pervious bed of small diamater gravel or prepared soil on which the concrete
sits, the water velocity slows and the pollutants settle onto the surface of the
bed while the water slowly percolates though the bed thanks to hydraulic

The pervious concrete filter relies on filter length to remove pollutants via a
variety of mechanisms (I'll go into that in later posts). The big difference
between this filter and the use of pervious concrete for a parking lot is that the
parking lot design revolves around strutural integrity while the filter has no
structural requirement and yet is much longer vertically than a section of
parking lot pervious concrete.

So with that in mind, here is a list of potential uses for a pervious concrete filter
(including the Moon and Mars since they have many of the same materials used
for concrete manufacturing).

I. Acid Mine Drainage Remediation
a. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) contributes to surface water pollution.
b. Global demand from large developing countries has increased mining
activities as well as the use of alternative sources such as scrap metal.
c. AMD waters may be another potential source of metals.
d. This is highlighted by a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental
Protection study stating [Rathbun, 2004]:
e. “the annual cost to state taxpayers for AMD remediation to be $23
million dollars a year and the estimated state wide value of sludge from these
systems to contain millions of dollars in metals, yet it is handled as waste.”
f. Experimental results have shown that:
1. The filter increased the pH by an average factor of 3.3.
2. The average percent concentration of iron in the filtrate was 15% of
the original concentration.
3. The average percent concentration of sodium in the filtrate was 39%
of the original concentration.
4. The average percent concentration of zinc in the filtrate was 26% of
the original concentration.
5. The average percent concentration of sulfate in the filtrate was 37%
of the original concentration.
g. From a Sustainability perspective:
1. The per unit cost and lifespan of the filter may be attractive for
developing countries for both AMD and improved drinking water quality
2. Any country with existing ready mixed concrete infrastructure can
produce the filter.
3. Filters may have a long storage life and can be easily transported for
use in remote areas and disaster relief.
4. The filter is not designed to be load bearing.
5. Recycled concrete to be used as a source of aggregate, requiring the
fines to be removed by sieve.
6. The filter can be easily produced by manual or automated processes.

II. Poverty Relief
a. local, low tech concrete plants or factories can make filters from
separately pre-packaged ultra fine particles, gravel and Portland cement.
Concrete companies at the regional or national level can prepare, package and
sell these supplies at local prices.
b. Containers can be assembled on site from other local/regional
suppliers or bought by the concrete companies, and given to subcontractors for
final assembly before shipment, or all components can be collected and taken to
the local area for final, on-site assembly.
c. Concrete materials are available almost everywhere, and ultra fine
material should be easy to process and fairly readily available.
d. “Expired” cartridges can be swapped out by trained local people and
sent back to the local concrete factory for recycling. The same local people can
be trained to test the water using simple testing kits to determine when the
cartridge is no longer effective.

II. Military applications
a. Field hospitals can assemble these filters and swap out “expired”
cartridges as needed. They will also be able to test the water as needed for
specific needs and add additional treatment as needed.
b. All of these filters can be recycled by military construction units or
contractors using prepared ultra fine particles, portland cement and pebbles.

III. Underserved Communities
a. Communities in underserved areas of developed countries can utilize
these filters in the same manner as impoverished communities, so those who do
not choose or are unable to live in areas with formal water treatment plants can
use the pervious concrete water filter to process surface and subsurface water
for consumption.
b. These pervious concrete filters are also recycled by sending them
back to concrete plants.
c. The filters can be sold as individual units for individual households
or as larger units for small, multi-family communities.

IV. Other commercial applications
a. Water treatment kits for outdoors enthusiasts, national guard or civil
protection units and as emergency treatment kits for ranchers and farmers.
b. The final stage of gray water systems, to remove all impurities from
gray water after the water has been used for irrigation and before it is consumed.
c. Pretreatment for industrial or laboratory use.
d. Treating brackish water in tailings ponds where oil sand or oil shale
mining is taking place (not yet experimentally proven).
e. Pre-treatment of salt water. This filter will not desalinate water to the
point of making the water consumable, but it could remove significant amounts
of salt (and chemical pollutants) which could prolong the life of filtration
membranes and potentially reduce the amount of energy needed to desalinate

V. Lunar exploration
a. (soil composition)
b. Portland cement composition: calcium silicate cement made with a
combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, and iron.
c. Similar soil composition means concrete could be produced on the
moon, which means concrete filters can be produced.
d. A gray water system mixing human waste with artificially produced
water would utilize the concrete filter as the last step to filter water for reuse in
irrigation and other non-potable uses..

VI. Martian exploration
a. Iron ore mining
b. Rock composition
c. Portland cement composition: calcium silicate cement made with a
combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, and iron.
d. Similar soil composition means concrete could be produced on the
Mars, which means concrete filters can be produced.
e. A gray water system mixing human waste with artificially produced
water would utilize the concrete filter as the last step to filter water for reuse for
irrigation and other non-potable uses.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I ended up in China after Comcast bought ATT Broadband in 2002 and took my severance over to China. I had thought about Europe but decided "everyone does Europe" and I was looking for a challenge ( go ahead and laugh other China vets and old hands). And for those of you who are familiar with Shanghai past the inner ring road and namely the Min Hang district, there are alot of canals in the area and they are all used as public trash cans and toilets (as are most of the bodies of water I saw in China).

While always unsightly, in the sultry air of August you'll know when you are approaching a canal long before you see it. So I am walking over a bridge over the canal on the way to pick up a minibus on Hu Min road to go into the city (I felt robbed when line 5 was completed long after I left that area, taxi fares from downtown are pricey even on an empty road early in the morning or late at night).
I see one of the many cargo barges that ply the canal system to transport stuff and one of the guys who drive them standing on the edge of the boat. Before he sees me he bends down and scoops out a handfull of this inky black and putrid smelling water and drinks it. He then sees me, smiles and waves. His teeth look like a brown train wreck. I'm shocked and a bit disgusted by this but realize this guy was obviously too poor and possibly didn't know any better. And even if he did he may have not had enough money to buy bottled water. I also thought that if pushed into severe enough circumstances, I would do the same and so would anyone else.

That is the unique property of water as a commodity.

Fast forward to 2006 at the University of Colorado Denver and I am sitting in Physics I, the instructor (Dr. Randall Tagg) is lecturing us on fluid flow theory and flow through porous spaces. He also happened to be a specialist in fluid properties. I also am working as a materials tester at the time, meaning I do various tests on concrete, soils, asphalt, rebar and welds at construction sites. I noticed that in the curing tanks for our concrete cylinders that even after the concrete cured, when removed it would take some time for the water to drain from the pores of the cylinders.

So the light bulb comes on and I ask myself if concrete pores could trap organisms in water. I then posed the idea to Dr. Tagg and with his assistance wrote two papers reinforcing the idea that pore space only had to be small enough to inhibit E. coli from being able to swim. An accumulation of less mobile/immobile bacteria would then create a physical barrier at each pore space and inhibit the flow of additional bacteria through the pore space.

I was encouraged to pursue the idea further with some newer faculty members in the Civil Engineering Dept and that is where the research really took off.