Tuesday 9 October 2018

BioLargo Spotlight: NSERC Grant Awarded to Evaluate AOS Water Chemistry

If you follow BioLargo Water and its Advanced Oxidation System, you may sometimes wonder how exactly it functions – ie how does it actually treat water? You have probably seen our short descriptions of its function: that it generates highly reactive iodine molecules at its electrodes, resulting in disinfection and decontamination, but the truth is A) this is an oversimplification and B) you may not be entirely clear on what this means!

To expand on this simplified explanation: in the AOS there are two modes of actions by which it treats water. One is the oxidation – the chemical action of removing electrons - of proteins inside bacteria passing through the AOS, resulting in inactivation or killing of those bacteria. The second mode of action is the breaking down of pollutants by oxidation, that is to say the structural or chemical alteration of chemical pollutants by the process of oxidation.

A peak at an AOS Spiral Reactor
Understanding these modes of action is crucial to BioLargo from a technical AND business perspective. Why? Because by having a solid understanding of how the AOS works on a fundamental molecular level, we can optimize and modify the AOS to maximize its water treatment potential without causing it to consume more electricity or consumables – both of which translate to money ($$$)!

We’re happy to say that BioLargo Water, our water treatment subsidiary, has been awarded $50,000 CAD last week by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to investigate, using cutting-edge analytical tools, the mechanism of complete breakdown of harmful compounds by the AOS (discussed further in this article). Congratulations to BioLargo Water!

Wastewaters can be treated by a huge variety of techniques. In recent years, electrochemical treatment has become of high interest to the water treatment industry given its ability to provide simultaneous disinfection and oxidation/reduction of chemical compounds – this is why we invented the AOS. Electrochemical treatment has shown disinfection capabilities for a variety of waters and good performance for both disinfection and decontamination. The advantages of the AOS include its ability to treat wastewaters cost- and energy-efficiently, at ambient temperature and pressure, its requirement for minimal chemical addition, and its low solid waste production. However, any advanced oxidation technique has the potential to generate by-products (BPs) while breaking down harmful organics. It is of high importance, therefore, to evaluate the AOS for the possible generation of of by-products (BPs) – it’s essentially a necessary step for an electrochemical water treatment system.

Dr. Susana Kimura-Hara
Because our AOS reactor has reduction chambers which would potentially eliminate/minimize the production of iodinated-BPs (I-BP), BioLargo Water proactively decided to peruse two scientific studies to prove that the AOS effluent is 100% safe. The first study is a toxicity study on zebra fish which we discussed in a previous blog. The second study pertains to the identification and quantification of any potential I-BPs made by the AOS. These two studies complement each other and are designed to eliminate any market risk in the future. BioLargo Water, our water treatment subsidiary, has been awarded $50,000 CAD last week by the Canadian Government to investigate the water quality of the AOS’s effluent. This grant was awarded after BioLargo Water showed through the hard work of their team that the AOS reactor can be used for treatment of several municipal and industrial wastewaters and allow effective and efficient water reuse. The recycling of water allowed by our system presents a great value proposition for industry’s current and future water needs.

Dr. Susana Kimura-Hara at the University of Calgary is our lead academic partner in this project. She will use her unique expertise in analytical chemistry, specifically in the field of identification and formation mechanisms of unregulated disinfection by-products, and will be using state-of-the-art techniques and instrumentations that are not otherwise available to BioLargo Water. This project will empower BioLargo Water to accelerate the commercialization of the AOS technology with assurances of the safety of its effluent.

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