Monday, July 15, 2024
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New Biotech Solutions For Water Treatment

Water contamination is a serious problem modern society faces right now. Production companies and hospital wastewaters let out various toxic compounds, which pose a weighty environmental threat towards the life of humans and animals, and primarily plants and soil survival conditions. Moreover, many countries suffer from shortness of water or have water inadequate for any form of usage. Biotechnology, especially nanobiotechnology, shows promising solutions for those environmental challenges and rises hope to save wastewater.

MBR – Wastewater Treatment Technology

A membrane bioreactor (MBR) is a wastewater treatment technology that uses the processes of microfiltration and ultrafiltration. The main goal of MBR is to remove nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, although phosphorus has only been shown to be removed insignificantly.

MBRs take part in integrating membrane operations in refineries and petrochemical plants. The MBR combines traditional biodegradation with solid-liquid separation using low-pressure membrane filtration. MBRs thanks to the filtration processes contribute to the production of high-quality water.

It has a small footprint, which can be further reduced or eliminated by ultraviolet disinfection. The pore size of the MBR’s membrane works as a barrier to certain chlorine-resistant pathogens. It is a relatively old invention dating back to the 1960s, however, it is still being developed, using newer methods and combinations of methods to enhance its processes.

SAM – More Innovative And Favorable Water Treatment Method

A sequencing anoxic/ anaerobic membrane bioreactor (SAM) is a more favorable, more innovative method to remove phosphorus and nitrogen, using insufficient organic substrate present in wastewater.

The SAM system consists of sequencing an anoxic/anaerobic zone and aerobic zone, respectively without and with the use of oxygen. According to the authors of this research, the method is described as follows: „The sequencing anoxic/anaerobic conditions are controlled by the intermittent internal recycle of the mixed liquor directly from the aerobic zone to sequencing zone. In a time of recycling, the anoxic conditions could be induced, while no recycling would be induced strict anaerobic conditions due to the interception of nitrate from the aerobic zone”.

The efficiency to remove phosphorus was 93% using the SAM method. The nitrogen removal efficiency was similar to the generated MBR method, however, it could prove more effective if the duration of the anoxic phase and internal recycle flowrate were elongated. 

MBBR – Novel Technology Similar To MBR

Another novel technology in wastewater treatment similar to the MBR is the Moving Bed Bioreactor (MBBR). It consists of growth media within a growth reactor used to increase the biomass. An exceptional invention is the electroconductive moving bed membrane bioreactor (EcMB-MBR).

It bases on a single-step process for wastewater treatment. It is a great, low-cost possibility to effectively eliminate nitrogen and phosphorus in domestic water treatment. The electric current in the interaction with the conductive media has proven to be extremely effective in removing chemical oxygen dioxide, nitrogen, and phosphorus by the efficiency of 97%, 88%, and 99% respectively.

Nanobiotechnology Methods

When it comes to nanobiotechnology there are numerous methods to remove pollutants depending on the type of contaminants. For any type of pollutant the process of adsorption, the adhesion of ions, atoms, or molecules on the surface of the material, is very effective. Green-fabricated amorphous iron nanoparticles were tested for the removal of toxic arsenic. On the surface of iron nanoparticles, arsenic was shown to be adsorped.

Purifying Water From Organic Contaminants Through Photocatalytic Degradation

Another method by green-synthesized nanoparticles is photocatalytic degradation to purify water from organic contaminants. This process involves decomposing toxic organic contaminants or complete mineralization of organic contaminants. Sodium borohydride – NaBH4 is a water-soluble reductant used in the reduction of toxic nitrogen compounds. The BH4  ions play an intermediary role in the reduction reaction.

Remediation In Sewage Systems

Furthermore, green-synthesized and biogenetic nanoparticles are proven remediation in sewage systems and in devices constructed to eliminate toxic compounds in water irrigation. Plants and nanomaterials such as algae, bacteria, fungi, viruses, yeast thanks to the presence of flavonoids, terpenoids, proteins, vitamins, phenolic acid, glycosides, carbohydrates, polymers, alkaloids, and various antioxidants, makes them an ideal source in the production of nanostructures.

Startups Prospering In The Face Of Future Scarcity

The water management industry is very prospering in the face of future scarcity. Many startups take part in creating this industry. Those startups have different objectives as water management requires a chain of operations. The biotechnological startups of wastewater treatment turned out to be crucial to saving lives.

INDRA Water Minimizing The Horrific Water Issues In India

According to reports from 2018 hundreds of thousands of people in India die annually, because they don’t have clean water to drink. Fortunately, a startup „INDRA Water” in Mumbai can help minimize the horrifying numbers. In 2017 the startup was founded by two friends from Seattle’s University of Washington. They were specializing in energy with a core interest in building sustainable solutions.

Initially, in 2015, they developed a stormwater treatment system, which they applied for landscaping and gardening. Later they found out it could also be used in the treatment of wastewater and sewage. Their system turned out to be small and very efficient at the same time, making up only a seventh of the conventional sewage system’s size in Somaya.

Their portable system uses electrocoagulation, this process breaks down chemical bonds of pollutants and contaminants by passing electricity through them. This effective technique removes textiles, chemicals, pharma industries from industrial effluent and wastewater as well as sewage from residential, commercial, municipal entities. Apart from that they also implemented a machine-learning algorithm to predict how the water stream will behave. Their great solution is able to treat millions of liters of water per day and make it proper for drinking. „INDRA Water” was granted many awards, taking the top places in startup ranks in recent years.

ClearCove – From A Tiny Startup In 2016 To An Innovative Water Treatment Company In 2020

In the US, starting small as a startup in 2016, ClearCove became an innovative company, taking the lead with its technology in wastewater treatment. ClearCove introduced a disruptive technology called „White Knight”. It uses a physical-chemical process of gravity-based filtering, its driving principle allows to stop and control the flow of water. Solids settle therefore at the bottom of the tank, while water is separated from contaminants through 50-micron screening. It is a low energy process and the costs of it are very limited. ClearCove’s solutions find application in many fields.

The ClearCove’s Harvester is a sewage treatment technology, regarded as one of the most effective worldwide. It increases plant energy generation and lowers energy consumption by diverting carbon to anaerobic digestion. It is completely automated, combining many processes like primary clarification, flow equalization, fine screening, grit removal, fiber removal in a single solution. Furthermore, the patented ClearCapture technology addresses poor water management by the dairy industry. This system effectively removes organic and inorganic particles from dairy wastewater.

As the limits of nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater have been lowered, ClearCapture is reducing those nutrients and can save them for use as fertilizers. It eliminates also problematic microorganisms or bugs, which allows the dairy processors to solely focus on producing dairy products. ClearCapture is applicable as well in breweries, managing their wastewater, allowing them to recover 90% of wastewater, later used mainly in irrigation. The removed pollutants in form of solids can be used for electricity production. In wineries, the removal of organics, pathogens, and solids can reach even 99% using this technology. This system leaves a very small footprint, allowing costs to drop significantly. 

Australian Biotechnological Giant Biogill

Based in Australia, now being a biotechnological giant Biogill has lived up to its potential in 2019 being the only biotech company awarded in the Innovation Challenge. Biogill’s main goal is secondary water treatment, so using biofiltration, aeration, oxidation, and some microorganisms to remove biodegradable and organic particles. Biogill to achieve the above mentioned produces bioreactors with so-called „gills”, innovative nanoceramic films for planting and growth of active biomass.

This technology takes advantage of the microorganism’s qualities as nature’s nutrient recyclers and decomposers. „Gills” create an ideal, rich in an oxygen environment, which allows the microorganisms to make the best use of their qualities. The unique process according to the internet site of Biogill happens as follows: „Wastewater is pumped to the clog-resistant, patented HydroSwirl™ dispersal manifold, located at the top of each cartridge. Wastewater is then gravity-fed down through the cartridge.”

Biogill offers some products easy to install and use with minimal maintenance requirements, they reduce biological oxygen demand and organic load, have low energy and operating costs. Those technologies find application in the winery, brewery wastewater treatment. Biogill’s systems are implemented into decentralized municipal sewage systems. The benefits of this application involve low sludge, resilience to changes in the waste stream, low odor, and energy, total nitrogen can be reduced up to 80%. As far as small food and beverage producers are concerned the application of Biogill’s product is a great opportunity for them to effectively remove fats and oils, lower aerosols and operating costs.

The vast water sector is in need to address wastewater treatment methods and solutions. There is still a place for improvement as more strict regulations are enforced to limit wastewater and  /or give it a second life. More attention is drawn to the burning issue of water scarcity and the demand for saving water rises. Another point of view to regard this issue is that the separated harmful pollutants, contaminants, and solids are an unused potential to create energy for example in fueling or electro-processes.

Emilia Curylo
Emilia Curylo
Having expertise in the field of Economics and IT applications, as well as Water Safety, Emilia has a rich background and writing capabilities. She mostly enjoy writing about technological advancements in Fintech and Biotech.


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