Pictured from left: Shelly Curtiss, CCIA Executive Director; Thomas Reilly, Chief Science Officer & Josephine Hofstetter, Research Director at winning team Access Sensor Technologies; and Ed Williams, CCIA Board Chairman. Credit: JA Colantonio

One winner emerged from ten finalists at the second annual Mining Cleantech Challenge last night, Thursday, March 29. Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA) hosts the event. After a full day of pitches to industry executives and investors, each of the presenting companies gave a two-minute pitch for their innovative technologies at the reception honoring their work, and the top three companies were recognized.

Third place was awarded to Hydrostor, from Toronto, Canada, a leading energy storage technology company with a patented and bankable Advanced-Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) solution.

In second place was Rentricity Inc., a renewable energy company from New York that designs and installs a unique energy recovery system.

First place winner Access Sensor Technologies took home a $5,000 check. Their technology was chosen by mining executives and investors in the industry as the best among a competitive field of ten total companies representing the U.S. and Canada. An international team of judges reviewed and voted on the winners, and included mining industry representatives from Barrick Gold, Newmont, Fresnillo and McEwen.

The victor of the day is a local Fort Collins company. Access Sensor Technologies makes business card-size sensor tools for rapid assessment of pollutant levels in materials such as water. Their trademarked OnTarget technology circumvents the need for lab analysis, allowing technicians to analyze samples onsite, in the field, immediately.

Chih-Ting Lo, a representative from Barrick Gold, joined the program this year as a new sponsor.

According to Lo, Barrick’s “innovation team is implementing a strategy to drastically reduce cost and extract gold sustainably.” Barrick also has an ambitious clean energy goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

Lo, who supports Barrick’s corporate Innovation group on energy and technology innovations, says “one of our system level innovations is to aim for a fully-autonomous electric mine,” for example. Another is titled “Extraction Reimagined” and “is not just about eliminating cyanide or step changes like how can we use more efficient processes” but also “thinking about how can we innovate so we don’t have to generate any waste, or a very very minimum amount of waste from our processing activities.”

Regarding the program goals of the Mining Cleantech Challenge of introducing innovative technology to mining companies, Lo says “This aligns very well with our strategy and partnership culture.”

Winning company Access Sensor Technologies was “Formed with a mission to make technology accessible and easy to use by anyone,” according to the company’s chief science officer Thomas Reilly, who presented along with Josephine Hofstetter, research director. Reilly continued “I believe our presentation for our water chemistry cards showed the potential for improvement and cost saving in the mining industry.”

A sample of Access Sensor Technologies test cards. 

“To me, it was really impressive the caliber of judges and attendees who were able to participate,” says Reilly of the Challenge. “These are people that have really high level positions in their companies” and their participation “shows the seriousness the mining industry has towards looking at and evaluating new technologies.” Hofstetter said “I’ll add that it’s rare to get people’s undivided attention and we did capture that today.”

The CCIA prize will help Access Sensor Technologies with “marketing and sales” according to both Hofstetter and Reilly. Reilly added that “unencumbered unrestricted funds are a rarity in our world so we’ll absolutely be using this to build awareness and relationships.”

Reilly concluded “We hope this could be the spark that gets us much closer” to their fundraising goals to bring the sensor card technology, forged in the Colorado State University labs, to market.

The remaining presenting companies represent a wide variety of technology and stages of development.

AOMS Technologies develops a fully integrated optical sensing technology using fiber optics to empower industries with uninterrupted monitoring of multidimensional performance data.

Aqua Pure Technologies develops, manufactures and operates water filtration solutions for industrial applications.

Avivid Water Technology LLC revolutionizes electrocoagulation, making it highly effective for removing arsenic, heavy metals, and soluble organic compounds, among other benefits.

FlexGen combines power conversion, energy storage and high speed controls to fortify, clean, and improve generating assets and power systems.

Solar Ship builds an aircraft able to operate in places where planes, helicopters and trucks cannot move cargo effectively.

Terra CO2 Technologies Ltd. is currently developing methods of addressing two major environmental problems: acid rock drainage (ARD) from mining, and excess atmospheric CO2.

Yost Brothers, LLC provides consulting services for waste and water treatment related to the environmental remediation and cleanup industry.

“We were very pleased with program participation for the second annual Mining Cleantech Challenge,” said CCIA executive director Shelly Curtiss. “The caliber and quantity of participation increased this year, and we doubled the number of applicants. This shows a strong focus in the mining industry toward innovation, and we are proud to play a small role in matching technology to industry.”

Sponsorship for the program has also grown dramatically in the second year, with the sponsor pool now including mining companies Newmont Mining, Barrick Gold, Fresnillo, McEwen Mining, as well as Jolimont Global, Ausenco, Resource Capital Funds, Consulate General of Canada in Denver, Davis Graham & Stubbs, Clareo Partners, RPM Gobal, EVOK, Colorado School of Mines, Rocky Mountain Institute and the Colorado Energy Office.