Rome-based Hydro Dynamics Inc. (HDI) was honored by the Georgia Department of Economic Development earlier this year for continuing to add international customers. The company’s ShockWave Power Reactor captures energy through a process known as cavitation. It is used for everything from making beer to expanding the amount of methane gas from cow manure.
“It’s safe to say that we’re not doing anything we thought we would be doing,” said founder Kelly Hudson. The company’s first customer was Rome Cleaners. “Our goal, starting out, was to sell a steam producer that was combustion-less heating to the dry-cleaning industry to make steam so that they didn’t have to have a boiler operator.”
Years ago, cavitation was a dirty word because of the forces; it would tear up props on a boat motor, and people would talk about problems with pumps that wore out from cavitation. “That was probably one of the hardest hurdles we had to overcome. The advantage we’ve had over other manufacturers was that our device has a lifetime warranty,” said Hudson. “As long as we have been in business, we have never had a claim on our product – never!”
Hydro Dynamics has been able to market its products across six of the seven continents over the past 20 years, with Antarctica as the lone holdout. “We’ve had several large customers that have taken us to different places,” said Chief Science Officer Doug Mancosky. “They are multi-national companies, so as they purchase our product and bring it to more and more of their facilities, it naturally follows that it opens up other countries and industries.”
The application to the brewery and distillery industry was developed almost a decade ago. “No matter whether you’re running high or low production, every day you use it, it will save you money,” Mancosky said. “In the case of beer technology, specifically when you’re looking at hops savings, every time you use the technology, you’re going to use fewer hops, you’re going to yield more beer, and so in that process, you’re going to make more money, so there is a strong, compelling payback for the brewery.” And people drink beer everywhere, even in Antarctica.
Mancosky doubles as the CEO of HDI subsidiary XtractMor, which deals primarily with the beverage industry. “In fact, in many cases, we’ll offer a very inexpensive or free trial to customers because we know if we get it to the brewery if we have a chance to show what the technology can do, that we have a high likelihood of getting a sale in the end,” Mancosky. The beverage industry accounts for between 50 and 60% of sales for Hydro Dynamics.
Hudson and Mancosky say the Georgia Department of Economic Development has been very supportive of Hydro Dynamics. The department provides trade representatives who help companies like HDI investigate new markets and develop new customers. The company has benefited from this service, which is offered at no charge.
The company also works in the biogas industry, predominantly using its ShockWave Power Reactor to treat cow manure, extracting more biomethane for energy production. Agri-business firms, from small individual farmers in Europe to larger cooperative companies in the U.S., put in a large anaerobic digester, essentially a giant tank where manure is held for as many as 30 days, allowing bacteria to produce methane. “With our technology, we can take and radically increase the amount of methane that is produced out of a given amount of biogas solids as much as a 10-20% increase, so we’ve installed several of those across the country recently, a couple in Colorado and one in Indiana,” said Mancosky.
In Europe, tax policy incentivizes smaller facilities, which makes the marketing aspect a little tougher. The U.S. market has become more efficient and appealing because the U.S. has a greater number of large facilities owned by the same company or co-op. The biogas industry now accounts for close to 20% of HDI sales.
The Hydro Dynamics plant in West Rome is primarily a point of assembly operation. The company has grown from two employees when Hudson started in 1991 to about ten today, most of them in engineering. It is supported by several suppliers like Georgia Machine Works, a steel supplier, and Rome Electric, which provides motors and drives. HDI uses a variety of sales representatives in the U.S. and abroad.
“I never envisioned anything like this until we hired visionary engineers like Doug (Mancosky), Dan Armstead, and Derek Parker, true engineers that understood what was happening and the potential,” Hudson said. The uses of the technology seem boundless, depending on the imagination of the HDI team.