Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A New Look at Cleaning Up Wastewater With Algae

From the Algal Scientific Corporation website:

Our Hypertrophic™ process for treating high strength water from food and beverage industries relies on microorganisms to consume organic material and nutrients, resulting in clean water and a valuable biomass useful as a fertilizer. While our process uses open tanks and equipment common to other water treatment technologies that use bacteria, our process is superior when the levels of organic matter (measured as biological oxygen demand, or BOD) are high and variable, and when the goal is to also remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Using a patented process that controls the liquid environment, we can target a unique subset of microbes that are the best at consuming and retaining nutrients. Unlike traditional bacteria-based systems, ours is designed to handle very high strength water (it's proven on BOD over 30,000 mg/l), can handle wide variations in loading, and produces fertilizer solids. In contrast to algae-based treatment technologies that rely on photosynthesis, which require sunlight and massive amounts of land for ponds, we use deep, unlit tanks, and require a minimal footprint.

Removing nutrients from wastewater has never been more important. Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients found in many types of process water being discharged from the food and beverage industries. These contribute to algal blooms in our waterways, which in turn create dead zones where oxygen levels fall below the level required to support fish and other aquatic species. At the same time, the algae can be toxic and a hazard to health, not to mention that algal blooms can detract from property values and public recreation.

Now, state and federal regulations are requiring that the discharge of nutrients must be reduced from prior standards. The problem is that traditional water treatment processes aren't very effective at removing nutrients, requiring add on systems that are expensive to build and operate and are energy intensive. These regulations can have a huge impact on industry. Our target customers include companies that discharge their process water to a municipal authority where they have to pay surcharges ranging up to millions of dollars per year.
Our Hypertrophic process is environmentally friendly, effective, and economic. We are able to reduce BOD and nutrients in a single step to below most surcharge limits. We use less energy in our process, have lower investment and operating costs, and produce a biomass that adds value when used as a fertilizer.

Beta glucan is a thoroughly researched compound with scientifically proven benefits. The problem is that it has been historically produced by extracting a very small portion from yeast cell walls in an expensive and difficult process that can cause variations in quality and effectiveness. Our process can produce a highly digestible and effective form of beta glucan at a fraction of the cost and with higher quality. This opens up applications that before weren't economic. The most significant of these is in animal feed where supporting immune health without the overuse of antibiotics is a worldwide goal.

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