Oklahoma-based- World Water Works, a provider of a range of physical and biological wastewater treatment technologies, has invested in Aquanos Energy, an Israel-based startup offering an algae-based wastewater treatment.
The strategic investment was made by World Water Works because the firm sees significant synergies between its MBBR and AHTM™ (Algae Harvesting Technology – Optimized) technology and Aquanos Energy mixed algae bacteria treatment system.
The Aquanos wastewater treatment system appears to involve the use of a conventional activated sludge process combined with an algal growth step. It may be the case that World Water Works will optimize the activated sludge process by converting to IFAS/MBBR, while also supplying algal harvesting technology.
Algal wastewater treatment is not a new concept. There are projects in California that have been in operation since the 1960’s. It has been well established that such systems provide a low energy, high footprint means of treating municipal-strength wastewater. High rate algal ponds have come into vogue over the past 10 years as interest in algal biofuels has grown. However, as discussed in a recent BlueTech Webinar on the topic, algal biofuels from wastewater treatment are not commercially viable and, even if oil reaches $200/bbl, a fivefold increase in yield and a halving of costs would be required to make such fuels financially viable.
Currently, the most cost effective means of generating energy from algal wastewater treatment is in the use of raceways ponds to affect treatment, followed by anaerobic digestion of the resulting algal biomass. This approach is currently being demonstrated by Spanish water utility Aqualia, as part of the EU funded AllGas project.