Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Idaho Falls water company takes honors at international tasting

Mike Sedlmayr and his daughter, Kiersten Landers, are remodeling space on Whittier Avenue into the headquarters for Divinia Water.
An Idaho Falls bottled water startup called Divinia took high honors Feb. 27 at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Billing itself as the “Academy Awards of Water,” 10 judges spent hours taking and selecting from waters sourced in 18 states, seven Canadian provinces and five foreign countries, including Greece, France, Macedonian and New Zealand.

Divinia took the silver in the Best Purified Drinking Water Category, which had only been added this year. The company is headed by Steven Sedlmayr, who has been using well water from the Roberts area but is moving his operation to a location on Whittier Street and will be using Idaho Falls water once in operation.

Sedlmayr built his patented purifier in his garage in response to a request from his wife, Remy, whom he describes as a “water snob.” The purifier removes such contaminants as arsenic, chlorine, fluoride, lead, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and antibiotics. The process uses 14 stages of filtration, taking over eight hours to purify three gallons of water.

Through lab tests at UC Davis, Divinia has been verified as deuterium depleted water. This is done with what Sedlmayr calls a microwave resonant chamber, which breaks the hydrogen-oxygen bonds in water. “It was a freak discovery,” he said. “I was actually afraid of it for a while.”

It’s bottled in glass, not plastic, because Sedlmayr claims chemicals from plastic bottles leach into the water, especially if subjected to higher temperatures.

The water was a hit in December at the Live Winter 2015 Bevnet Expo in Santa Monica. “We were like rock stars there,” said Sedlmayr. The 72 bottles they took were quickly snapped up and some key contacts were made, especially with potential customers in Europe and Asia.

Operating on a direct sales model, Divinia can be purchased online. It isn’t cheap: a three-gallon case costs $165. Production is between 30 to 40 cases a week, but they will be scaling up once moved into their new location in Idaho Falls, and Idaho Steel is collaborating on a larger version of Sedlmayr’s filtering apparatus.

The company is looking for investors, and admits it has a challenge. “It’s up to us to build credibility,” said Kiersten Landers, Sedlmayr’s daughter and Divinia’s chief operating officer.

This isn’t Sedlmayr’s first foray into the world of invention-based entrepreneurship. His career dates back to the 1980s, when he pioneered a manufacturing process for flat-screen high-definition television. This November 1989 article from Inc. Magazine has a lot of interesting information on that period of his life: Blind Ambition: Two companies fight over the patent rights to fiber optic HDTV (high-definition television).