Biology is the most ancient and powerful technology that we know of, yet the way that biology has been applied to industrial processes has changed little in the past 100 years. Fatemeh Shirazi, founder of Microvi, observed that microorganisms in the natural world behave and function very differently than those in the concrete basins and steel tanks that run our industrial bioprocesses. In her journey to find out why, Fatemeh created a series of synthetic environments to recreate features of the microenvironments of organisms in nature – the foundation for Microvi.

The solution.

Microvi creates tailored biocatalytic solutions to address global challenges in water, energy, and the environment. Their MicroNiche Engineering platform combines materials science and microbiology, aligning modern industrial bioprocesses with how microorganisms evolved to function over billions of years. Microvi has developed thousands of composites (combinations of microorganisms and specific materials) as the base of its suite of water purification, wastewater treatment, and renewable chemical production technologies. One of the company’s most advanced technologies, Denitrovi, removes the common pollutant nitrate from drinking water by completely degrading it into harmless nitrogen gas with no biosolids production.

What makes them special?

Microvi is the first and only company to focus exclusively on the microenvironment to enhance how microorganisms perform in industrial bioprocesses. Existing biological water treatment technologies produce significant sludge and require extensive energy, making them uneconomical, unscalable, and ineffective. Microvi’s Denitrovi technology — a drop-in, low-cost solution that does not produce secondary waste and requires little energy — is an economical option for the hundreds of low-income communities in California that have high levels of nitrate in their drinking water. In fact, the EPA estimates that billions of gallons of water are unusable due to nitrate contamination in California alone. Microvi’s goal is to develop standardized, standalone units that can be easily integrated as nitrate treatment systems.