Eindhoven-based VitalFluid, a company that specialises in Plasma Activated Water (PAW), announced that it has raised €2M in fresh funding to enable sustainable food production by providing clean alternatives to existing nitrogen nutrients and agrochemicals.
The Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM) and VDL Participatie, part of VDL Groep, have invested together in VitalFluid.
Robbert van der Stelt of BOM says, “VitalFluid is the first company that has managed to develop a commercially available product with plasma technology. This allows the company to play a major role in making our food system more sustainable. VitalFluid could also be the founder of a new industry in the region. The knowledge that is being developed, is of an electrical, biological, and chemical nature, and offers great potential for employment and the development of new technology.”
Fund to enable sustainable food production
The company says that the proceeds will help VitalFluid to accelerate the development of its sustainable plasma technology. The funds will also be used to expand R&D activities and build up the organisation to be able to supply a growing number of machines to horticulturists.
The company says, “Our strategy is to focus on sustainable solutions for agriculture applications like natural nitrogen, seed treatment, plant health, and water treatment – pH controller. In parallel, we continue to work on application of plasma in other domains, like medical and cleaning.”
Knowledge centre for plasma technology
VitalFluid was founded in 2014 by Paul Leenders and Polo van Ooij. Paul, a creative entrepreneur with a background in chemistry, and Polo, an electrical engineer from Eindhoven University, met during their joint research on plasma technology.
They claim to have recognised the value of plasma technology and its suitability for a variety of sustainable applications, and decided to dedicate their careers to unlocking its potential. They joined forces, together with the Eindhoven University of Technology and VitalFluid was born.
The company uses plasma technology to reduce the use of chemical pesticides and to offer a sustainable alternative to artificial fertilisers.
Plasma Activated Water is produced by making use of water, air, and electricity. Ambient air is brought into the plasma phase with electrical energy and plasma-activated air is brought into contact with water. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen are dissolved into the water creating Plasma Activated Water.
The process of treating water with plasma is copied out of nature. When lightning strikes during a thunderstorm, rain and water are treated with plasma. It is one of nature’s ways to fixate nitrogen in the form of nitrate, the most important fertiliser for plants and crops.
Paul Leenders says, “You can best compare this Plasma Activated Water to a pond where lightning has struck. Plants grow amazingly well on that water. Our plasma water – we also call it lightning water – has the same effect as a thunderstorm; the first fifteen minutes it has strong disinfecting properties, after that it falls back to water containing a nice fertiliser.”
Leenders adds, “This is a completely natural process with only water, air and electricity as input. When you use sustainable energy sources in the process, it is even 100 per cent circular. With this new investment, we can set to work to conquer the agricultural sector. Starting with organic horticulture.”
The REACT-EU package
Earlier this month, VitalFluid was granted €1M REACT EU subsidy from the European Union and the Netherlands, with a total project budget of €1.8M.
According to the company, with this financial boost, it will further develop its sustainable plasma technology. “The aim of this project is to create a unit which can disinfect agriculture recirculation feed water from bacteria, fungi and viruses combined with adding natural nitrogen. The system uses only ambient air, water and (green) electricity as inputs to do the job. This way we support sustainable agriculture and give an alternative for synthetic fertilizers,” says VitalFluid. Details on the project are available here.
REACT-EU (Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe) is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6B of additional funding to cohesion policy programmes for the years 2021 and 2022, to be used by the end of 2023.
It aims to support economic and social recovery from the coronavirus crisis by fostering crisis repair and resilience of healthcare, business and support to the most vulnerable groups. The funds also contribute to the green and digital priorities for smart and sustainable recovery.
The Commission has published the allocation of REACT-EU resources for the year 2022. Around €11B are now available for programming under Cohesion policy in all 27 Member States. These funds come in addition to the almost €40B made available in 2021.