STTR Phase I: Next-Generation Microbial Fuel Cell for Highly Efficient Wastewater Treatment

Period of Performance: 01/01/2015 - 06/30/2016

$225K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Waste2Watergy LLC
3830 NW BOXWOOD DR Array
Covallis, OR 97330
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Oregon State University
OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
Corvallis, OR 97331
Institution POC

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project, if successful, will be to advance the development of a novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) system that generates energy from the wastewaters being treated and that could significantly benefit wastewater treatment for a range of key industries. If successfully developed, the company's new MFC technology is expected to offer significant economic/technical advantages for these companies by reducing their disposal costs and waste volumes, reducing the footprint of treatment facilities, and helping them to adopt a more-sustainable process for wastewater treatment. Treatment of organic-rich wastewater is energy-intensive, consuming 15 GigaWatts (GW) or 3% of all electrical power produced in the United States. However, this water contains roughly 17 GW of potential energy. Capturing a portion of this energy through MFC technology would favorably reduce wastewater treatment energy requirements leading to a more economical treatment process. The objectives of this Phase I research project are to demonstrate the scalability of the company's proprietary, low-cost MFC cathode material, its long-term performance, and the feasibility of the company's MFC design to effectively clean beverage wastewater. The need to maintain MFC reactor performance during scale-up and to reduce cathode cost is a major technical challenge for using MFC for wastewater treatment. The successful completion of the proposed research will result in the translation of the laboratory cathode fabrication recipe to a larger-scale manufacturing procedure. Integration of the low-cost cathode material and the unique MFC modular design is expected to provide breakthrough performance and cost that will enable the broad-based economically viable and modular commercial deployment of an MFC wastewater treatment process.