Alameda Business Buzz: Liquidity creates high-tech water filter, and Capone's pivots

Alameda Business Buzz: Liquidity creates high-tech water filter, and Capone's pivots

Janice Worthen

Liquidity's Naked Filter uses nanofibers to pull harmful microbes out of water. Photo courtesy of Liquidity.

California’s record drought has kept water on the minds of the state’s nearly 39 million residents, and the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s recent announcement that customers may experience water with a bad smell or taste due to a change in where the water is being pulled from the reservoir has reminded folks in the Bay Area that quality drinking water is a luxury easily taken for granted.

But the issue is certainly a global one. Last year the World Health Organization and UNICEF released a report stating that 748 million people do not have access to a water source protected from contamination. WHO estimates that about two million people die each year from diarrheal diseases alone due to unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

The water crisis makes research by companies like Liquidity, based right here in Alameda, all the more relevant.

Liquidity’s team of scientists, designers and engineers have spent years refining water filtration at a nanoscale. The company recently introduced Naked Filter, which comes as part of a water bottle and filters out 99.9 percent of microbes such as bacteria, protozoa and cysts as well as chlorine without the use of chemicals or electricity.

The bottle can improve flavor, has a high flow rate and doesn’t require a wait period before water can be consumed.

Liquidity builds the filter by using a technique called electrospinning to create nanofibers 1/600th the size of a human hair from a polymer solution. These fibers, which are packed tightly together, then trap harmful microbes while allowing water to pass quickly through. Once the filter is full, the water stops flowing.

Liquidity’s work and innovation was recognized at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, where the company won first place in the Startup Battlefield. Liquidity competed with 24 other contestants in front of a panel of judges.

Seven finalists were chosen, including companies working on battery technology, website creation, and artificial intelligence, but Liquidity took home the Disrupt Cup and a $50,000 prize.

In a video about the product, Victor Hwang, Liquidity co-founder and chief executive officer, says that he sees Liquidity as “Silicon Valley returning to its roots.” I asked Hwang via e-mail to elaborate on this statement.

“The ‘silicon’ in Silicon Valley comes from the days when companies like Intel and HP were pioneering the manufacturing of semiconductors, microprocessors, computers, and printers,” Hwang wrote. “The Valley was the leading edge of high tech manufacturing where we made the most advanced consumer products on the planet. Liquidity is an example of the Valley returning to that era as we manufacture our nanofiber membrane right here in Alameda.

“Other firms in the area like Tesla are growing their manufacturing operations and pushing the envelope in their respective industries. We hope to do the same by becoming the ‘Intel inside’ of the water industry.”

Right now the Naked Filter water bottle is available online for $23.99, but Hwang said he hopes to have the bottle available at U.S. retail locations this fall and products available internationally early next year, with plans to expand the technology to a variety of products in the future.

“Our vision is to provide a new generation of products that will have a dramatic impact on the lives of the people on Earth who don’t have consistent access to drinking water,” Hwang wrote.

Hwang said he wants to erase the disparity in access to safe drinking water.

“Just because you live in an area without the water infrastructure that we enjoy here, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the ability to drink the same quality of water that we do,” he wrote.

The Naked Filter water bottle’s portability and ease of use are simple but important advantages. Hwang explained that other technologies have not been embraced by people who need them because they are “inconvenient.” With Naked Filter, consumers simply have to fill their bottle and drink. When the water flow stops, consumers know it’s time to change the filter.

You can pre-order Naked Filter water bottles and replacement filters at www.nakedfilter.com. Orders are expected to be filled this September.

Around Town

West Alameda: Whisky Magazine named St. George Spirits the Craft Whisky Producer of the Year at its 2015 global Icons of Whisky awards ceremony. The Spirits Alley distillery known for its single malt whiskey, fruit brandies and liqueurs, gins, and absinthe has also returned to vodka (they sold their Hangar One brand to Proximo Spirits in 2010), releasing three new flavors this year: All Purpose Vodka, California Citrus Vodka, and Green Chile Vodka. 2601 Monarch St.; 769-1601. Visiting hours are from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

In-N-Out Burger has opened for business. 555 Wilver "Willie" Stargell Avenue. Open 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. through 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Orangetheory Fitness is scheduled to open in August at Alameda Landing. The workout franchise provides one-hour group sessions of cardiovascular and strength interval training based on heart rate. Equipment used in the training includes indoor rowing machines, treadmills, weights and resistance equipment. The cost of membership varies depending on a member’s use, ranging from $69 to an unlimited pass for $189. However, there is a “Founder” rate available for a limited time that allows members to get the unlimited pass for $159. No contracts are required.

Pete Keady, regional director for the North Bay area, said the workout Orangetheory provides is a “scientific based workout” that uses a member’s age, weight, and other data to calculate the optimum aerobic level to maximize exercise post oxygen consumption so that individuals don’t over- or under-train and can enjoy the benefits of the workout even after it’s over. For now, Keady said the hours of the studio will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, but may be adjusted depending on the needs of the community. For more information visit www.orangetheoryfitness.com. 2610 Fifth St.; 927-4414.

Westside Joe’s Bikes will be opening soon and is hiring a part time bike mechanic. You can apply at www.localwisejobs.com or sfbay.craigslist.org. 1000 Central Avenue.

Downtown Alameda: Design and play studio Twirl is now open. The cost of admission for the open studio and play gallery is $12 per child, and there are also evening art classes that vary in cost. Visit www.twirlalameda.com to see photos of the space and learn more about the activities available. 1424 Park Street; 473-0812. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Capone’s Speakeasy has reopened as Capone’s Steakhouse and Lounge. The head chef is Doug Korach, and the menu includes steak favorites like the rib eye, porterhouse, T-bone, and filet mignon as well as a rack of lamb, a Cornish honey-glazed hen, honey and ginger-glazed cedar-planked salmon, and pasta puttanesca in lemon pepper fettuccini. Appetizers include a foie gras and fig compote, shrimp cocktail, seared scallops in saffron butter with toast points, roasted marrow bones with toast points, bruschetta and goat cheese, and smoked salmon and capers. The menu also offers a variety of salads, sides, and “Bootleg Bar Bites” to choose from.

Mark Strachan, president and chief operating officer, said he decided to remake Capone’s into a steakhouse based on feedback from the public. He said he believes Alameda needs and wants a steakhouse, and he wants to provide that.

Beside the addition of new tables, the look of Capone’s will stay the same. On nights when Capone’s stays open until 1 a.m., dinner will end around 9 p.m. so the floor can be used for dancing although the bar will stay open, and bar bites will still be available. There will continue to be live entertainment, a piano player during dinner, and bands and dancing on Saturday and Sunday. Strachan said the music offerings are eclectic and include jazz, Latin, older R & B and pop. There’s even a salsa night and an ‘80s night.

1400 Park Street; 522-2391. Open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday, and 4 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Hours may change.

There’s a Taste of Alameda sign on the old Happy Feet location. It looks like a new restaurant. More details next time. 1354 Park Street.

Nutrishop is opening this summer in the Bridgeside Shopping Center and is now hiring for full and part time positions. Resumes can be e-mailed to info@nutrishopalameda.com. 2651 Blanding Avenue; 263-8711.

Alameda South Shore Center: Pinot’s Palette, a franchise which allows guests to enjoy a drink while painting a canvas, will open in July. During the two- to three-hour sessions, guests are led through a complete canvas painting and can whet their palates with a variety of beverage options including 12 to 15 different wines, 10 flavors of beer including craft beer, and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages.

Peri Gabriel, who owns the Alameda location with her husband Sean, said they are partnering with local wineries and plan on featuring a wine each month. The cost of a two-hour session is $39 per person and $49 per person for a three-hour session.

Parties and events can also be booked with a deposit of $250 for 15 to 20 guests or $500 for 21 or more guests. Gabriel said they are offering a grand opening special of a $100 deposit on parties held before August 31. The party host can choose from a library of more than 800 paintings or can pay extra for a custom painting and can choose the music that fits the event. Visit www.pinotspalette.com/alameda for more information.

2210 D South Shore Center; (630) 765-0008 or alameda@pinotspalette.com.

Comments

Submitted by Alan P. (not verified) on Fri, May 15, 2015

Steak house sounds good, however i cannot patronize a place that sells Foi Graz. Capone's Please rethink that on the menu.

Submitted by Scott W (not verified) on Fri, May 15, 2015

Janice, nice explanation of the tech behind the Naked filter, good work.

Submitted by David (not verified) on Fri, May 15, 2015

I know of at least one Alameda "darling" restaurateur, who will remain un-named, that got around the ban on selling foie gras by giving it away.

Note the ban has been overturned by a federal court and the State AG has filed an appeal.

Submitted by Neil (not verified) on Fri, May 15, 2015

The production of foie gras is barbaric. It's one thing to eat a dead animal; it's another to eat one that has been tortured first.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on Fri, May 15, 2015

Mmmm... Foie gras...

Submitted by George (not verified) on Fri, May 15, 2015

ALL animals are tortured for human consumption, including "free range" and "grass fed".

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Sat, May 16, 2015

Re: Naked Filter

What about hepatitis and other water virus contaminents ?

Does this filter capture viral particles?

Submitted by David (not verified) on Sat, May 16, 2015

Factory farming is precisely why we should allow the expansion of backyard farming and (ethical, humane) backyard slaughter of livestock in poultry in urban areas.

Submitted by Suezetta (not verified) on Sun, May 17, 2015

A couple of things are not clear to me. One, what steak is worth $49 in Alameda. Two, when you walk in for dinner and, in the midst of your $49 steak you find yourself in a nightclub.....

Submitted by David (not verified) on Sun, May 17, 2015

That's the great thing: Nobody's forcing you to go! Nobody's forcing you to buy $49 steak. Or eat foie gras.

Submitted by C. (not verified) on Mon, May 18, 2015

There are many restaurants in Alameda I have yet to try and look forward to sampling other than Capone's. It does not even make the list of places I'd want to try, given past publicity and on-line reviews.

Submitted by neil (not verified) on Mon, May 18, 2015

But the goose didn't get the choice. And humane slaughter is an oxymoron.

Submitted by dave on Mon, May 18, 2015

How long have you been a vegan, Neil?