SBIR Phase II: Next-Generation Microbial Fuel Cell for Highly Efficient Wastewater Treatment

Period of Performance: 03/01/2017 - 02/28/2019

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

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

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project, if successful, will be to advance the development of a novel microbial fuel cell (MFC) system that generates energy from the wastewater being treated. MFC technology could revolutionize wastewater treatment for small and mid-sized breweries, fruit processors and other food and beverage processing plants. Over 40 billion gallons of wastewater are produced every day by sources such as breweries, juice processors, dairies, and other bottling plants. The company's microbial fuel cell technology is expected to offer significant economic/technical advantages for these companies by reducing their disposal costs, reducing the footprint of treatment facilities, and helping them to adopt a more sustainable process for wastewater treatment. MFC technology also has potential in the low-cost, highly-efficient treatment of municipal wastewater. The objectives of this Phase II research project are to construct and validate the performance of an innovative MFC technology in a scaled-up, simulated commercial-scale system and to validate the technical and economic benefits of utilizing this system to effectively clean brewery and fruit-processing wastewater at volumes representative of commercial operations. Small to mid-size breweries, fruit processers and other food and beverage processing plants are searching for an affordable and effective water-treatment option. A promising approach is microbial fuel cell technology; however, significant technical/economic challenges have prevented commercialization of this technology. During Phase II, the MFC technology will be scaled up and tested at near-commercial scale to demonstrate the same high performance metrics. The cost-effective cathode and separator components and highly efficient reactor design are expected to finally make MFCs practical for wastewater treatment applications.