This company near Green Bay sells devices that make contaminated water drinkable in minutes; now it's teaming with Georgia-Pacific
July 21, 2022
Green Bay Press-Gazette
LENA – Imagine having a pen, bottle cap, or small pod that can almost instantly turn contaminated water into purified, drinkable water.
Roving Blue, a company based in Lena about 30 miles north of Green Bay, has all three products that it says use ozone to purify water in three minutes and kill 99% of pathogens without the need for chemicals.
Marianna DeMyer, chief executive officer, said Roving Blue's technology makes water safe by infusing it with nature’s most effective disinfectant — ozone — via electrolysis, a process by which electricity is passed through a substance to effect a chemical change.
Some of the harmful bacteria that can be found in water, which ozone is effective against, are cholera, giardia, hepatitis, poliovirus, E. coli, influenza and salmonella, accordng to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Roving Blue offers several water purifying products, but its best sellers are the O-Pen, which you can use in a glass of water; the Ozo-Pod, for use in the kitchen to clean vegetables; and the GO-3, which is a cap that fits a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle.
“Our most popular product is the O-Pen, which looks like a writing pen. You just remove the cap, turn it on, put it in a glass of water, and it cleans it,” DeMyer said.
It’s a great product for travelers who go to different places around the world and are not always sure about the quality of the water, she said.
DeMyer is the daughter of a former U.S. diplomat, was born in Japan and grew up overseas, in places where water can sometimes be contaminated, including Cambodia and Iran.
Although the Earth is covered by 70% of water, only 3.5% of that water is drinkable. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a contaminated drinking water source, according to the World Health Organization.
DeMyer studied science communications at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay but she said she always felt like an entrepreneur.
First, as the owner of a company that sold boats, boat carts, supplies and accessories, she created a network of investors that gave her another idea for a startup: White Knight Commercial Funding, a financial institution for businesses.
One of the companies that approached White Knight for a loan was producing an ozone disinfection system for water.
“I found it fascinating,” DeMyer said.
Soon after, she decided to sell the marine business and couldn’t let go of the idea of a portable ozone purification system.
DeMyer started a new business with the idea of using ozone technology for humanitarian aid after natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. But things took a turn when a person came to her with an even better invention.
“I was approached by an inventor that had a truly novel and wonderful new technology, using ozone to purify water,” she said.
Although she works with this person, DeMyer declined to reveal his name, as part of an agreement to protect proprietary information involving his invention.
She launched Roving Blue in 2014 shortly after she acquired the technology that uses electrolysis and ozone and patented the invention.
The products work simply, according to Roving Blue. For GO-3, you turn the bottle upside-down and press the "On" button on the cap. In a couple of minutes, according to the company, the water is clean.
Recently, Georgia-Pacific through its innovation center for startups, Angel Studios 1915, helped to redesign the bottle cap for Roving Blue, and it will now be mass produced in Pulaski. Previously, the cap was produced in Lena, via 3D printing.
With this collaboration Roving Blue can prototype new products and try new manufacturing technologies, and hopefully grow its profits, said Chris Brennan, public affairs manager at Georgia-Pacific.
"Their technology in itself is very unique," he said.
DeMyer said her company's most important clientele are hunting and camping enthusiasts, plus customers in the dental medical industry.
The company has $700,000 in sales from 2014 to date, but last year alone sales increased 170%, DeMyer said.
Gradually, she said, they want to connect with big companies that build appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.
DeMyer said Roving Blue has been trying to gain exposure since founded, and she hopes an affiliation with a major company will help.
"It takes some years to become an overnight sensation," she joked.
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