3M Invests in California Water Treatment Co.

HydroNovation develops water-conditioning systems that reduce the amount of potentially hazardous substances and minerals in order to create high-quality drinking water for homes and buildings.

3M New Ventures-the venture-capital arm of Maplewood-based 3M Company-has invested an undisclosed sum in a water treatment company as part of a Series B round of financing.

The company, venture-backed HydroNovation, Inc., develops water-conditioning systems for residential and foodservice industry applications. According to a Monday regulatory filing, HydroNovation has raised almost $3.1 million in its latest securities offering.

The company's systems reduce the amount of potentially hazardous substances and minerals to create high-quality drinking water. Unlike conventional water softeners, the systems eliminate the need for chemical additives like salt and instead treat water through a process called electro-deionization, which produces no chemicals.

According to 3M, the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries have used electro-deionization technology for many years to produce high-purity water on a large scale. HydroNovation, located in the San Francisco Bay area, has tailored it to produce safe drinking water for homes or buildings.

“The combination of HydroNovation's advanced water-conditioning technology with 3M's core capabilities in water filtration, membranes, and films will create new technical and sales opportunities for both companies,” 3M New Ventures President Stefan Gabriel said in a statement. “It provides homes and small businesses with high-quality water, and helps to protect the environment.”

3M sees significant potential in HydroNovation's technology. The company said that hard water reduces the life and efficiency of plumbing and appliances. Meanwhile, traditional salt-based water softeners lead to concentrations of sodium chloride in wastewater, which is of increasing concern to municipalities, some of which are limiting the use of traditional systems.

3M New Ventures is based in Munich, Germany. It identifies and invests in innovative companies and disruptive technologies in various focus areas, including energy, sustainability, and water; health; electronics, IT, and media; architecture, light, and living; mobility and transportation; and safety and security.

3M is Minnesota's fifth-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $26.7 billion in 2010.