The process was developed at Murdoch University
Researchers at Murdoch University Australia have crafted a new method of wastewater treatment that drastically cuts down on electricity consumption. If successful, the process consumes less than half the electricity currently necessary to execute treatment.
The effort exists as a collaboration between Dr. Ralf Cord-Ruwisch, Dr. Wipa Charles, two Phd students, and engineers Professor Liang Cheng and Dr. Lee Walker. Together, they have formed BioFilmTec Pty. Ltd. for the new research team.
“At present, the majority of the electricity consumed by the nation’s water utilities is used to oxygenate wastewater as part of the treatment process, and so this design has the potential to revolutionize the way our country processes wastewater,” Cord-Ruswisch said. “Not only can we offer significant operational savings for water utility operators by reducing the volume of electricity required by at least 50 per cent, this in turn will dramatically lower the carbon footprint associated with treating our wastewater.”
The new method pinpointed a more efficient way to deliver oxygen to bacteria used break down organic waste in wastewater. Offering a speculative treatment plant based on the new technology, water would be drained from treatment ponds while the bacteria would be left behind in order to be exposed to the air so they may “breathe.”
The process is able to significantly cut back on electricity costs by eliminating the common practice of pumping air bubbles through wastewater to provide bacteria with necessary oxygen. However, the air bubbles are only 20% oxygen while the rest is comprised of nitrogen, a compound unnecessary for the process.
The scientists have filed a provisional patent on the process and are currently seeking investors to commercialise the technology along with aspirations of fabricating the processing plant on an industrial scale.