Charlottetown-based Sentry, whose technology gives utilities real-time analyses of their wastewater, has received a $1.9 million grant from Sustainable Development Technologies Canada, or SDTC.

Sentry, which uses real-time bio-electrode sensors to collect and analyze waste-water data, issued a press release on Monday announcing the funding. It said the money would allow Sentry to automate processes that utilities use to aerate wastewater or use wastewater to produce biogas.

“We care about the environment and making better decisions when treating wastewater,” said Sentry Founder and CEO Patrick Kiely in the press release. “SDTC will help accelerate the use of Sentry's technology in the circular economy by helping wastewater treatment plants save 20 percent on energy costs or generate 20 percent more energy from renewable biogas."

In 2014, Kiely founded Island Water Treatment in Charlottetown with a mission to develop new water treatment technology, and the company received investment from such backers as Innovacorp, Natural Products Canada and Island Capital Partners. IWT is now a holding company with two main units: Sentry, which analyzes waste-water data, and Regen, which builds small-scale water treatment facilities for remote locations.

In April, Sentry closed a Series A funding round from Fort Collins, Co.-based Factor[e] Ventures and Germany’s SKion Water GmbH. Though the companies did not reveal the size of the round, a Series A round is generally thought to be something over $2 million.

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In an interview Monday, Kiely said Sentry began deploying its sensors about four years ago, and the number of installations has been growing about 50 percent per year. He estimated there are now about 130 installations around the world.

These sensors, which are designed to function in wastewater, are on all the time and alert the utility if there is any change in the makeup of the wastewater. That saves time and money as these companies previously had to take samples, send them to a lab and wait days for a report.

The SDTC funding will allow Sentry to produce the next generation of product for wastewater treatment over the next two years, said Kiely. About 70 percent of the energy costs in treating wastewater goes toward pumping air into the liquid to sustain the bacteria that consume the pollutants.

Sentry is now working on technology that will react to the readings from the sensors and automate how much air is pumped into the tanks, lowering utilities’ energy costs by about 20 percent.

Sentry customers also produce biogas from wastewater, and in a similar fashion the next generation of product will control how much food is pumped into the tanks to feed this process. The company expects this will increase the yield of biogas by about one-fifth.

“We’re digitizing the biological treatment process,” said Kiely, comparing the product to thermostats that automatically lower the temperature of your house when you go out.  “We’re going to be the Google Nest for the wastewater treatment industry and this money will fund that.”

The 16-member Sentry team intends to spend 2022 validating the new product through about 40 installations, and then do a full launch in 2023.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada is a federal agency that issues grants to help Canadian companies develop and deploy clean technology products.