Onvector Uses Electricity to Treat Wastewater, Reducing Reliance on Chemicals

Father and son Young and Dan Cho are determined to change the way we treat industrial wastewater. Their company, Onvector, takes an electrical, non-chemical approach.

Onvector’s Plasma Vortex technology saves both water and energy by preventing environmental pollution from chemicals and avoiding burning wastewater. The Plasma Vortex system is 97 percent more energy efficient than incinerating highly contaminated water, according to Dan, Onvector’s CEO.

“Plasma is our flagship, revolutionary technology—using plasma, lightning in a bottle, to zap bugs and robustly disinfect any wastewater stream, break down these dissolved organic compounds non-chemically,” Dan explains. “It’s a beautiful and elegant technology that we think can make a major impact.”

Onvector received a U.S. Air Force Phase I SBIR in August to pursue eliminating per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals near military bases. PFAS chemicals, nicknamed “forever chemicals,” are notoriously difficult to remove.

The company is in early commercialization, and has paid pilots with a large cruise line to disinfect drinking water.

At Greentown Labs, the Onvector team relies on the machine shop, Solidworks software, and Manufacturing Initiative (run by FORGE, Greentown’s sister nonprofit). 

“We use as many of the capabilities and opportunities provided by Greentown as we can,” Dan says. “In terms of the partner introductions that we’ve been able to gain from Greentown, the list is extensive. Greentown Labs is achieving critical mass, which enables startups like Onvector to piggyback onto the Greentown corporate network.” 

Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating solutions for today’s biggest climate and environmental challenges. Located in Somerville, Mass., the Greentown Labs Global Center for Cleantech Innovation is the largest cleantech incubator in North America, operating a 100,000 sq. ft. campus comprised of prototyping and wet lab space, shared office space, a machine shop, electronics lab, and a curated suite of programs and resources. Greentown Labs is home to more than 100 startups and has supported more than 230 since its inception.