Processing Magazine

Queen's University works on new wastewater treatment method

March 12, 2013

New water filtration technology that could potentially provide better opportunities for producing and using renewable energy to power wastewater treatment systems is being developed in Canada with the help of federal funding.

The technology is being developed by sustainable water treatment solutions provider NewTerra Ltd, headquartered in Brockville, Ontario, and its progress is being facilitated with the help of a grant from FedDev Ontario, which aims to provide access for small and medium-sized businesses to the research capacity of colleges and universities for various purposes, including engineering design, technology research and development, product testing and certification.

The water filtration system is currently being evaluated by Queen's University researchers, who are looking into ways to use the MicroClear flat sheet membranes by integrating them into existing water treatment systems, so that they can boost the production of biogas generated from wastewater.

According to Bruce Anderson, a researcher at Queen's University, the CA$68,798 funding could help the team improve the efficiency of the technology, thus providing better filtration at wastewater facilities and also increasing biogas production. At present the technology is being utilized at the Brockville Wastewater Services Facility, where it is involved in the anaerobic digestion process. This is a bacterial process in which bacteria break down the solids captured or produced in the wastewater treatment process. This produces a mix of methane gas and carbon dioxide referred to as biogas, which is environmentally friendly and CO2 neutral, Anderson explained.

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Steven Liss, vice president of research at Queen's University, commented that the partnership with NewTerra is a great example of how collaboration could bring about significant economic and social benefits for south-eastern Ontario. The relationship formed through the project is very important and the development of the technology might have far-reaching implications, not just for the region but also for the global industry, he added.

NewTerra's president and COO, Robert Kennedy, stated that the company is committed to improving the environment through developing smart technologies that can be applied in various facilities and perform different purposes. The collaboration with Queen's University is extremely useful because it combines the collective knowledge base of both organizations and can lead to water treatment solutions that are even more environmentally friendly, Kennedy went on.

Meanwhile, according to the Canadian Biogas Association, there is huge interest in biogas as a source of energy and businesses are increasingly looking at possibilities to have access to renewable energy. With regard to that, the Biogas Association is hosting a number of biogas related events on March 26-27 in the Ottawa area, including a series of forum discussions and the association's 2013 Annual General Meeting.