Michael J. Fleck believes his product can help change the world.
And he hopes January will be a turning point for the Huntley-based startup company he, his brother and brother-in-law have started.
The stock began trading on the Capital Market on Dec. 28 under the symbol "WSTL." The company previously traded under Nasdaq's Nasdaq Global Select Market.
The Nasdaq Capital Market is a continuous trading market that operates in substantially the same manner as the Nasdaq Global Select Market and listed companies must meet certain financial and corporate governance requirements to qualify for listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market.
In addition, Nasdaq granted the company an additional 180-day grace period to regain compliance with Nasdaq's minimum bid price requirement. It will have until June 26 to demonstrate compliance with the minimum bid price requirement for continued listing.
• Skokie-based carbon recycling company LanzaTech has been selected by the Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office to receive a $4 million award to design and plan a demonstration-scale facility using industrial off gases to produce 3M gallons/year of low carbon jet and diesel fuels.
The facility will recycle industrial waste gases from steel manufacturing to produce a low cost ethanol intermediate "Lanzanol." Both Lanzanol and cellulosic ethanol will then be converted to jet fuel via the "Alcohol to Jet" process developed by LanzaTech and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
LanzaTech will work with ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel manufacturer, to demonstrate an new pathway to low carbon fuels from industrial wastes that are either flared or underutilized.
• Bloomingdale-based PCTEL Inc. officials got to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq on Jan. 12.
CEO David Neumann, Chairman Steve Levy; Gina Haspilaire, chair of the compensation committee; and Vice Chair Marty Singer will be joined by PCTEL's leadership team. PCTEL investors and key customers, including InfoVista, the company that recently acquired Ascom's TEMS division, will also participate in the event.
The opening bell ceremony celebrates the past 15 years of progress and PCTEL's future in the small cell, in-building, and complex, private wireless markets.
Fleck and his siblings run Pidge Industries, which has developed and patented the Personal Advanced Oxidation Water Treatment Device. It treats contaminated water through an advanced oxidation process, according to Fleck, Pidge's executive vice president and a co-inventor, and produces clean drinking water without chemicals or waste.
Its use can range from giving campers a convenient method for treating water to providing clean drinking water for people in underdeveloped nations or victims of natural or man-made disasters.
The device is still in its prototype phase, Fleck said, but the company is taking two paths in hopes of building interest in the product and providing the company with the funds needed to move it to production.
Pidge took the prototype to the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, with the intention of lining up buyers or investors. They were able to set up exhibition space within CES's Eureka Park, which is described by the Consumer Technology Association as "the flagship startup destination at CES, providing a unique opportunity to launch a new product, service or idea."
It also applied for the MacArthur Foundation's 100&Change grant, which will award $100 million to one recipient for a project that can change the world by addressing a global issue. Pidge was one of more than 1,900 applicants for the grant last summer, and in November found out they passed the administrative review process, which reduced the number of applicants to 800. The company will find out this month if they are one of 10 semifinalists.
"We realize it's a long shot but we have a good project," Fleck said. "We've got a good idea, we've got a solution to some thing that impacts people now. If you don't have fresh drinking water, you don't live."
Fleck said the idea for the device came from discussions with his brother-in-law, John A. "Sandy" Pidgeon, Jr., who is a retired Navy SEAL. Pidgeon said soldiers on missions would often have to carry their own drinking water or use chemicals to treat water, which left behind waste.
"We thought you could probably make something that would fit in a backpack. That was the impetus for this whole thing," said Fleck, who has worked previously as a chemist and an environmental lawyer.
Fleck, with Pidgeon and brother Bryan C. Fleck, created Pidge with the idea of developing the device. After receiving patents, they were able to create a prototype that can treat a gallon of water in about 10-12 minutes, he said.
"We like to compare it to brewing a cup of coffee in the morning," Fleck said.
The device generates very strong oxidants "millions of times stronger than chlorine," Fleck said, but the oxidants don't linger in the water like chlorine.
"After the water sits a minute, you don't even smell ozone in water," he said.
The humanitarian potential of the device is the motivator of the Pidge team.
Ideally, Fleck said they would like to manufacture the device in the U.S., and preferably in the Chicago area.
"We could grow to have a division that deals with disaster relief, we could have a division that deals with military applications, and a division that deals with Third World countries for a very rugged but simple to use device that could allow people to take their water and treat it at point of consumption," he said. "We've got big plans."
"In five years, if we could really be providing jobs in Illinois and producing a product that can be used worldwide -- especially for humanitarian relief -- that would make us very proud."