New approach to wastewater systems reduces costs
Energy efficient wastewater treatment is now a reality with MICROrganic Technologies’ bio-electrochemical systems that convert the chemical energy in waste to electricity. A member company at RIT Venture Creations, MICROrganic Technologies has developed VIVA, the world’s first microbial fuel cell platform that treats wastewater streams.
VIVA is appropriate for both large and small wastewater treatment plants. Microbes treat the waste, resulting in a significant decrease—by 85 to 90 percent—in overall treatment energy use. As an added plus, the system generates clean DC power and continuous, detailed process data. There is no other technology that can provide these benefits, the company says. To provide some perspective, 1 megawatt of power can produce enough clean energy for about 300 homes each year.
Last year, VIVA completed a two-year pilot project with a municipal plant in Massachusetts.
“What’s most dramatic is that with VIVA in place,” says Carol Maxwell, CEO, MICROrganic Technologies, “the annual usage at a plant could be reduced from 1,050,000 kilowatt hours to only 160,000 kilowatt hours each year.”
Through VIVA, carbon dioxide is also dramatically reduced — 1,250 metric tons of carbon dioxide are no longer used by these systems, unlike current wastewater treatments.
Work on the technology initially began in 2010, when the founder pursued this idea for treating wastewater, published a paper and secured patents. Then, since 2015, a team of four professionals has worked to bring MICROrganic Technologies to its current path.
Nearly all wastewater treatment plants use massive tanks and blowers that are required to be on 24/7. With VIVA, these blowers are not needed.
“The biggest difference between aeration and VIVA is that VIVA provides continuous data on all aspects of the system, while aeration doesn’t provide any data at all,” Maxwell says. “The only way to get insights into aeration treatment is to take chemical tests that require at least six days to get results.”
With VIVA, plants can significantly reduce their plant operating costs, especially in the food and beverage industry. Earlier this year, the MICROrganic team implemented its first commercial module at an industrial brewery in upstate NY. MICROrganic is now working with Anheuser-Busch and will be piloting the system at their NYS plant, near Syracuse.
Municipalities have become better informed and are now letting companies know that they are going to begin billing for the use of wastewater systems or that businesses need to get their own systems in place.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” Maxwell says.
For more information, visit MICROrganic.