MicroPop

Feb 18, 2020
Erik Rehtlane

What is your technology?

Eagleridge’s technology called “MicroPoP” enables the destruction of waste activated sludge (WAS) at the wastewater treatment facility where it is produced. MicroPoP breaks down WAS microbes to produce readily bio-available food for consumption by anaerobic and/or aerobic microorganisms back in the treatment plant.

Science is unequivocal that microbes eat liquids, not solids. Consequently, liquefying WAS is essential to its destruction by aerobic or anaerobic microbes. MicroPoP breaks apart WAS microbes by weakening their cell walls with a small amount of caustic solution, and then pumping the microbes at extremely high pressure (12,000 psi) using a customized high-pressure homogenizer called a "cell disrupter". The cell disrupter is equipped with a special valve that shears the microbes and releases their liquid contents or “cytoplasm.” Bio-available cytoplasm is “fast food” for microbes in both an anaerobic digester and/or in a biological aerobic activated sludge treatment system, so the liquefied WAS is rapidly co-digested with the incoming wastewater within the facility’s existing infrastructure.

Figure 1a. Untreated WAS. Figure 1b. WAS after cell disruption. Scanning electron micrographs of WAS before and after cell disruption with MicroPop.

Since cytoplasm contains elevated levels of nutrients, MicroPoP's cell lysis results in increased concentrations of phosphorus (P) in processed WAS. Eagleridge has a license for a new technology called "MagPi" developed by Muddy River Technologies Inc. that uses an electrochemical process to remove P from nutrient-rich liquid wastes such as wastewater and sludge. MagPi uses electricity to dissolve a magnesium anode to form magnesium ammonium phosphate (“struvite”) and other magnesium-phosphate compounds. Additionally, hydrogen and oxygen gas bubbles that are by-products of MagPi’s electrochemical reaction attach to the precipitated P compounds and separate these solids by flotation. The magnesium phosphorus concentrates have fertilizer value, so they can be recovered and reused rather than being a solid waste for disposal. Compared to competing chemical methods to precipitate P, MagPi is much smaller and far less costly to build. Multiple MagPi cells connected in series can reduce P concentrations down to low levels to respond to tightening regulatory requirements.

MicroPoP lyses virtually all of the microbes (cells) in WAS. The lysed cells are bioavailable food for microbes, whether aerobic or anaerobic and are thus suitable for high rate anaerobic digestion (optional), followed without dewatering by rapid aerobic co-digestion with incoming wastewater in the WWTP’s activated sludge system. MagPi removes excess P levels in the wastewater that is inherent to cell lysis.

MicroPoP Enables:

  • Destruction of WAS by aerobic activated sludge treatment or by anaerobic digestion, so dewatering and disposal of WAS is no longer needed.
  • Easier sludge dewatering with less polymer required, since only primary sludge remains for disposal.
  • Increased concentration and decreased time needed for stable digestion of WAS, effectively tripling the waste handling capacity of existing infrastructure.
  • Less residual solids to dewater, store, and dispose of, thus decreasing reliance on landfills, incinerators, or land application.
  • Approximately double biogas production by more complete conversion of liquefied WAS to biogas via anaerobic digestion, resulting in increased energy self-sufficiency for the facility.
  • Elimination of filamentous microbes that cause digester foaming, poor solids settling, and non-compliance.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions through less truck hauling, less sludge to degrade to methane upon disposal, lower polymer use, and biogas displacement of fossil fuels.
  • Reduced levels of pharmaceuticals, metals, and PFAS in biosolids, since MicroPoP undoes the concentrating effect of these constituents in WAS by liquefying WAS.
  • The reduced odor from residual solids since WAS which is vulnerable to shear caused by dewatering no longer exists.
  • Retrofit of small and modular equipment that fits into the available footprint of most WWTPs
  • Significant savings in operating costs and capital costs for sludge management at WWTPs.
  • Avoided costs to build anaerobic digesters, sludge handling, thickening, storage, and transport.

 

Has the technology been tested, demonstrated, or implemented anywhere to date?

MicroPoP encompasses both high-pressure cell disruption of WAS, plus the return of the lysed WAS cells directly to the activated sludge system with dewatering, optionally with anaerobic digestion. Full-scale demonstrations of high-pressure cell disruption were conducted at these municipal wastewater treatment facilities:

  • Chilliwack, British Columbia WWTP, 2004-2005.
  • Los Angeles County JWPCP WWTP, Carson, California, 2005-2006.
  • Des Moines, Iowa WWTP, 2007-2009.
  • In addition, a $6 million pilot plant was built and operated at a pulp mill for three years (2011-2014).

A major utility in western Canada conducted a thorough technology vetting process and approved and issued contracts for a full-scale $13 million renewable natural gas project in 2012. The utility then unexpectedly put the project on hold for political reasons (not technology-related), and the predecessor company to Eagleridge failed after almost seven years of waiting. The project was canceled as a result. Eagleridge acquired the intellectual property and physical assets in 2015.

 

What are some of the next steps needed to advance the technology?

Eagleridge is focussed on conducting one or two full-scale technology demonstration projects with the $3 million of equipment we own in our warehouse. This equipment allows for flexible project financing terms and shortens the lead time and implementation schedule. We also have a pilot plant in a single intermodal container.

These projects will be managed as research projects, with an established process engineering company providing detailed design for technology implementation and integration within the existing wastewater treatment facility. Eagleridge will also include recognized and prominent technical and academic-industry leaders for third-party technology review and evaluation. Technical reports and publications on the technology use and performance will be prepared by the third-party technology reviewers. These technology demonstration projects will pave the way to ramp up the commercialization of MicroPoP and MagPi. 

 

LIFT is valuable for getting our message out to potential early technology adopter facilities and technology commercialization partners.
Erik Rehtlane
President & CEO
Eagleridge Innovations Corporation

 

Contact

Erik Rehtlane, P.Eng.
President and CEO, Eagleridge Innovations Corporation
erikr@eagleridgeinnovation.com
Office: 604-281-2495

Cell: 604-817-435

www.eagleridgeinnovation.com