Pace University's Entrepreneurship Lab
HydroGeneratioNexTechnologies (HGNT) was initially formed in 2013 as a project by current CEO, and Founder, Taylor Vogt. Once Mr. Vogt formulated the idea during his undergraduate career he assembled a small group of people to build on his initiative; students, faculty and community members.
The goal of the company is to completely redefine what it means to have a wastewater treatment system. We prefer to refer to the entire procedure as a sewer recovery processing network (SRPN), because we don't see any reason to think of the effluent mixed water as anything but a resource which needs to be properly utilized. We need alternative, carbon-less fuels to power our vehicles. Hydrogen is a gas that can power vehicles through combustion or fuel cells without producing greenhouse gases. Through electrolysis, a mechanical-chemical process of using electrical currents to split water molecules, we can produce oxygen and hydrogen gasses. Usually hydrogen gas is produced from hydroelectric dams, where they have electricity and water. The problem is that hydrogen is too light to run through a pipeline and is too disparate to pressurize in a truck in mass. The issue is creating hydrogen in bulk for metropolitan epicenters.
We have a tremendous amount of water underneath our feet. We have electricity in our cities.
We can electrolyze sewer water. Sewer water is looked at as waste. It is discarded; kept under our feet so it is out of view. With sewers running the gambit of cities we can use electrolyzers to create hydrogen on site with that water; addressing the problem of otherwise needing to transport the hydrogen.
We can make cities into their own fuel production plants.
We prefer an "offensive" approach to wastewater systems: mechanically separate the biosolids at the source of input from the water and then move them to anaerobic digestion units. Breaking down organic material in the absence of oxygen, anaerobic microbes produce methane gas reducing the volume of biosolids. We can trap the methane to produce electricity cheaply for the immediate area. The end product of the digestion is 'digestate'; a potent fertilizer. The hydrogen, oxygen, methane and digestate can all be sold or utilized on site.
We want to redesign every sewer system but will start in the United States, where the infrastructure is in need of redesign and risks complete failure. Over the next 20 years it will cost more than $600 billion to restore underground piping. Old, breaking pipes waste 1.7 trillion gallons or $2.8 billion every year. We believe our approach can provide long term sustainability for wastewater treatment, as it requires only replacing modules and parts as opposed to constructing new pipes or lines. Our SRPN will be cheaper and more resilient than traditional treatment practices, but those methods can always provide redundancy for our units.
We would like to start in cities around the United States where hydrogen refueling infrastructure already exists. Our aim is to form public-private partnerships with municipalities to provide them a service, in return for their expertise and construction capabilities. There are about 30 stations across the country. This approach is not proprietary to one city or even one nation. We have the ability to revolutionize sewer infrastructure around the world.
Taylor Vogt is a recent graduate of Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations with Honors and during his time was acknowledged a minored in Environmental Studies. He graduated in December 2013. He is 23 years old. He grew up Croton-on-Hudson, New York. While attending Pace University Mr. Vogt was a member of the university-wide sustainability committee since its inception. Mr. Vogt won a merit award from IBM following his participation in an international online dialogue called the Smarter Planet University Jam. Subsequently he went on to found and foster the IBM Students for a Smarter Planet; the collegiate outreach network for the Smarter Planet campaign. He worked for a clean-tech start-up known as Turning Earth LLC during his freshman year. For his efforts in environmental activities and entrepreneurial endeavors Mr. Vogt was given a piece in Westchester Magazine's feature '22 People To Watch' with the header 'The Environment's Savior'.