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Bluewater Bio Makes Water from Sewage with New HYBACS System

Bluewater Bio\'s new HYBACS system removes pollutants from sewage treatment plant effluent.Sewage treatment plant effluent may finally get its Cinderella moment, thanks to a new process called HYBACS developed by Bluewater Bio International. Up to now, the waste water from sewage plants has been shunted aside for disposal, typically into a nearby waterway.  HYBACS transforms it into a reusable water resource, by improving the removal of nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants.  Bluewater Bio has won a grant from the Spanish Environment Ministry to conduct a pilot test of the technology at a treatment plant near Madrid.  If it proves successful, sewage treatment plant effluent could get a new life – and new respect for its role in a sustainable future.


Bluewater Bio and HYBACS

HYBACS stands for Hybrid Bacillus Activated Sludge.  The process uses the Bacillus family of bacteria as a natural method of removing pollutants from raw sewage.  As with other bacteria, Bacilli break down the organic materials in sewage, but according to Bluewater Bio they perform more aggressively.  They achieve a higher rate of removal and they remove a wider variety of materials including phosphorus and nitrogen, two pollutants that up to now have proved difficult to tackle.

Advantages of HYBACS

Because of its higher efficiency, a HYBACS system costs less to install.  It can also be added as a retrofit to existing plants.  In addition, HYBACS reduces operating costs, mainly by eliminating the expense of chemical treatment for phosphorus and reducing electricity consumption.  Because it requires a relatively small footprint to construct, it can potentially be used to upgrade existing sewage treatment plants in urban areas, where it would otherwise be too expensive or physically impossible to add new features.

Sewage Treatment Plants and Effluent

The recovery of reusable water from effluent could go a long way toward relieving local water shortages.  More broadly, effluent recovery would be a major step forward in the re-conception of sewage treatment.  Methane capture has been a feature at treatment plants for a number of years, and many are recovering treated sludge for use as a fertilizer.  California is stepping it up a notch by adding food scraps to the mix, to create more methane.  Biofuel production and small scale hydropower are also under exploration.  In New York City, the construction of the North River treatment plant even created new open space, in the form of a lushly planted rooftop park that covers the entire facility.  Rather than mere disposal facilities, treatment plants are becoming multi-dimensional resource recovery operations that play a key role in a sustainable infrastructure.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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