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Water-pollutant-removal technology extended to phosphorus

By Scott Jenkins |

A project has been announced to demonstrate Microvi’s (Hayward, Calif.; www.microvi.com) pollutant-removal-and-recovery technology for phosphorus in water. The objective of the demonstration is to reduce total phosphorus levels to 0.1 mg/L at a wastewater treatment plant. The nine-month project is a collaboration between Microvi, U.K.-based Southern Water Ltd., WesTech Engineering, Inc. and the University of Portsmouth.

Current methods for phosphorus removal from wastewater rely on dosing high levels of expensive metal salts, Microvi says, which locks up the phosphorus and generates solid wastes with high disposal costs.

For the U.K. project, Microvi will extend the use of its MicroNiche Engineering (MNE) platform, which has previously been commercialized for converting nitrate into nitrogen in contaminated groundwater. The MNE platform works by maintaining communities of naturally occurring microbes at high densities within engineered synthetic polymer scaffolds. The microbes are chosen specifically to break down the targeted pollutant without generating sludge.

The Microvi biocatalysts, designed as a highly hydrated, hydrophillic polymer complex, mimic key fitness advantages found in natural microorganism communities while maintaining a controlled system over extended periods of time, Microvi says. The technology reduces chemical use and biosolids production in wastewater treatment, leading to reduced total costs, the company adds.

For the commercialization of MNE for nitrate removal (Denitrovi technology), Microvi was recognized as a finalist for the 2017 Kirkpatrick Award for Chemical Engineering Achievement (Chem. Eng., January 2018, pp. 22–28; www.chemengonline.com/process-commercializationthe-2017-kirkpatrick-chemical-engineering-achievement-award).

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