Eco-friendly wastewater treatment system receives funding boost

A firm that has created an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system that could reduce pollution in rivers and seas has secured £700,000 of funding.

I-Phyc’s system uses the natural power of algae to remove nutrients from sewage and wastewater. The system can reduce pollutants such as phosphorus and nitrogen and the biomass that is recovered can be used to generate biogas or fertiliser.

The system also helps operators to reduce their carbon footprint as the algae captures and retains carbon emissions.

Unlike other systems which rely on light being shone on the surface of the algal mixture, I-Phycs uses lighting to penetrate the depth of the mix, which improves its effectiveness and drastically reduces the size of tank required, making it ideal even for smaller treatment plants.

I-Phyc secured the funding from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund, which is managed by Parkwalk. The company, whose laboratories are in Bristol, has recently set up new headquarters in Birmingham and is creating 19 new jobs in the city.

The firm has already carried out one successful trial with Wessex Water at Avonmouth sewage works and is currently demonstrating the technology at a plant in Weston-super-Mare. The latest funding will support the building of its team in Birmingham as the firm prepares to make its first commercial sales.

Russell Bright, I-Phyc’s chairman, said: ‘UK rivers drastically need improvement, with only 14 per cent meeting the minimum ‘good’ standard. Although new regulations aim to impose a major reduction in the level of phosphorus in wastewater, many sewage plants cannot achieve this with their existing technology and some smaller ones cannot remove phosphorus at all.

I-Phyc’s technology offers a chemical-free and natural solution that could help clean up our polluted coasts and rivers.’

In June, Southern Water was fined £126m for failing to operate a number of its wastewater treatment works properly.

In the course of a large-scale investigation into the water company, regulator Ofwat found that the company had not made the necessary investment into its infrastructure which led to equipment failures and spills of wastewater into the environment.


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