Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Aquacycle

Microbes treat wastewater at scale


A circular water treatment system uses microbes to break down organic matter

Spotted: Wastewater treatment is vital to public health and to the protection of water ecosystems and wildlife. However, it is also often an expensive and energy-intensive process, making it unavailable in areas that lack sufficient resources. Globally, around 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged into local environments with minimal or no treatment.

Now, Californian startup Aquacycl has developed a way to make treating industrial wastewater more affordable and efficient, and less carbon-intensive. As Marketing Director of the company Juli Iacuaniello described to Springwise, the BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology (BETT) it has developed uses locally sourced bacteria to break down organic matter in wastewater. The bacteria “release electrons, which are captured as direct current and used to offset the power consumption of the system and accelerate treatment rates.”

The BETT systems are deployed as a service, which includes real-time, remote monitoring and control, maintenance, and sludge management. They are modular, scalable, and occupy a small footprint, meaning that they can be quickly and easily deployed without requiring large, expensive infrastructure.

Iacuaniello told Springwise that, in the short term, the company is focused on growth within existing and new corporate accounts in consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and hydrocarbon remediation. Eventually, however, Aquacycl plans to expand to other applications and “impact over 100 million individuals over the next five years.” The startup has been helped by a range of accelerator programmes, including Google for Startups. It was also a finalist in this year’s Earthshot Prize.

Water is essential for life, so it is no surprise that there is a lot of interest in improving the sustainability of water treatment. Innovations spotted in the Springwise database include the use of natural treatment processes instead of chemicals and a small-scale plug-and-play system for use on a local scale.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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