Using ARB Biotech for H2 Generation and Efficient Commercial Wastewater Treatment
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
1235 W LAIRD ST, Tempe, AZ, 85281-5321
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractFood and beverage companies, for example breweries or confectioners, are burdened with huge costs managing wastewater totaling millions of dollars per year in operations for typical facilities. This cost is attributed to the continuous use of decades-old, high-maintenance treatment technologies commonly called activated sludge technology. This treatment strategy requires massive energy expenditures and maintenance to deliver and mix large volumes of oxygen gas and other inputs to degrade sugars, starches, and other organic materials in wastewater. As energy costs increase and wastewater regulations tighten, companies are exploring and investing in upgrades for decades-old treatment systems that will make them more cost competitive and sustainable. This SBIR grant will be spent on scaling and further validating our Arbcell wastewater treatment technology with a 200 gallon per day pilot. The Arbcell uses biotechnology to cut this cost in half by supplying low-energy, high quality wastewater treatment for customers and deliver a payback period of two years or less. Additionally, it can generate 99% pure hydrogen gas as a value added byproduct from the treatment process. The core of this process is a naturally occurring class of bacteria called Anode Respiring Bacteria (ARB) that work in conjunction with a scalable reactor design to deliver the same treatment speed and quality but with fewer energy inputs, notably oxygen. The key differentiating features of the Arbcell compared to competitors are its cylindrical cell design chained together in an array for efficient use of surface area, rapid H2 harvesting, modularity to augment scalability, and periodic oxygenation to suppress undesired microbiological reactions in the MEC. Arbsource will work in partnership with researchers at Arizona State University and Proteus Consulting to study operational aspects of this technology, notably the physiology and ecology of the ARB; the phenomena controlling the rates of BOD oxidation, electron transfer, and H2 production; the materials for the anode, cathode, and other parts of the MEC; and optimized reactor configurations and operations strategies. Any commercial facility generating a wastewater output that falls under environmental compliance regulations can benefit from this technology. Our initial market approach is the food/beverage sector because the industry is rapidly recognizing economically and environmentally attractive opportunities to enhance their wastewater management strategies after decades of relative indifference. Such facilities also generate well-characterized wastewater with high concentrations of sugars, starches, and other organic materials perfect for the Arbcell. We anticipate the ability to serve the wastewater treatment needs of emerging biofuel and bioplastics technologies as well.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.