ATHLONE, Ireland – An Irish university spinout technology that makes bold claims to reduce aeration energy consumption by 75% has attracted investment from the Dow Chemical Company.
Called OxyMem, the company said its Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) technology delivers oxygen in a much more effective way than conventional systems.
OxyMem believes the reason existing wastewater treatment consumes high levels of energy is due to “oxygen transfer limitations in the process”.
Traditionally, oxygen is supplied during the aeration process to encourage bacteria to grow and break down wastewater.
However, the Irish start up believes this is flawed: oxygen bubbles rise too quickly leaving bacterial struggling to hold on, claiming 70% are wasted.
As an alternative, the company’s MABR process supplies oxygen through gas permeable membranes, which act as a “growth system” for the bacteria.
Here’s a video to explain:
The investment sum from Dow was not disclosed but it will be used to accelerate the commercialisation of the MABR technology, which started life at the University College Dublin back in 2003.
OxyMem is claiming the following results from technology trials to date:
· Oxygen transfer efficiency per unit of energy is 8kg O2/kWh compared to 2.2 kg O2/kWh achieved from conventional activated sludge
· The energy consumption of the system is 0.25 kWh/kg COD (chemical oxygen demand) removed
· 50% reduction in sludge production compared to conventional activated sludge.
The partnership between the two companies could be similar to that of Mapal Green Energy and Xylem: Mapal developed its floating fine bubble aeration system from Israel and then joined forces with the larger water technology company Xylem to help with distribution (read WWi story).
Wayne Byrne, managing director of OxyMem, said: “I believe that we have an important technology that can make a sizeable contribution in the wastewater market where there is a significant need for more efficient infrastructure solutions.”
Snehal Desai, global business director for Dow Water and Process Solutions, said: “OxyMem’s MABR technology shows excellent promise in lowering operational costs for the wastewater treatment process due to reduced energy demand.”