Wastewater treatment technology wins prize
The technology is a new version of a bio-electrochemical system (BES). BESs use bacteria as catalysts to remove dissolved organics from wastewater.
Bilexys’ team member Dr Paul Barrett said the technology had been in development at UQ’s Advanced Wastewater Management Centre for three years and had grown from a 50 mL laboratory experiment into a 1000 L fully functioning pilot plant.
The pilot plant has been operational for over a year and treating wastewater at Fosters’ Yatala Brewery.
He said there were many industries with wastewater characteristics that were highly suitable for the application of Bilexys technology including the biodiesel, organic chemicals, petrochemicals, brewing and beverages, distilling, sugar and pulp and paper industries.
The system is modular meaning it can be retrofitted to existing wastewater treatment plants and modules can be added as needed.
Dr Barrett said the Bilexys technology had a number of operational and cost advantages over present technologies used for treating wastewater.
“If you look at wastewater treatment today, it is a very energy intensive,” Dr Barrett said.
“For a country like Australia, about 5% of energy use for the whole country is for wastewater treatment.
“Bilexys is able to treat the wastewater as fuel and captures the energy from this fuel to make it a much more efficient and cost-effective process. So, instead of wastewater treatment costing a lot of energy and money to run, Bilexys makes the process significantly more energy efficient and brings revenue back into the business.
“It really represents a paradigm shift in wastewater treatment and we are hoping to revolutionise wastewater treatment.
Dr Barrett said by winning Enterprize the team would be able to take the technology from the pilot stage through to commercialisation.
He said the team would use the money to find a CEO with experience in the wastewater industry as well as a manufacturing engineer who could take their technology from a prototype to something that could be manufactured on a commercial scale.
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