Water for future generations

The underlying technology uses totally biological treatment processes, in which micro-organisms convert organic matter into water and gas that can be used as an energy source for heating or electricity. The result is an efficient treatment for highly polluted effluents, such as the wastewater discharge from polluting industries: pulp and paper, food and beverage, all of which have to cope with emerging regulations regarding water and waste recycling.

A new technology out of two old ones

"The main challenge we faced while developing DANA was to combine two systems – an anaerobic and an aerobic – in one appliance", says Tamar Arbel, CTO in AQWISE. Udi Leshem, who is the vice president of business development in AQWISE, comments: "Wastewater systems are like a human resources company – they combine the right bacterium with the right task. Usually there are either anaerobic or aerobic bacteria for each task, the uniqueness of DANA is that it offers both".

Leshem refers to the fact that the two prevalent methods for performing biological treatment processes are either aerobic or anaerobic. An aerobic organism or aerobe is an organism that can survive and grow in an oxygenated environment. An anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. It could possibly react negatively and may even die if oxygen is present.

The anaerobic process is a complex one with high operation and maintenance costs and with a need for professional manpower. The aerobic systems, on the other hand, are fast and easy to maintain, but fail to handle large quantities of industrial wastewater. DANA combines both technologies within a single low cost hybrid system. Therefore, it enables clients to deploy a wastewater system capable of treating industrial wastewater with a smaller environmental footprint and lower costs.

A Fruitful Collaboration

DANA is the outcome of a fruitful collaboration between several partners, each being a leader in its field. The Israeli company Aqwise, is specialized in developing cost effective wastewater treatment plants. Aqwise's research and development team is composed of biologists, chemists and environmental engineers, all brought their expertise in aerobic systems for the research and development of DANA.

Another partner was the Netherlands based company Westt B.V, which specializes in the development and implementation of water treatment systems. Westt on its side, brought in the project its know-how in biological anaerobic systems. The mutual development of DANA gave both companies, Aqwise and Westt, the opportunity to co-register one of the technology's essential components as a patent.

Aqua Explorer, a high-tech company which core activity lies in water technology was another collaborator. It added into the mix its knowledge in design and pilot testing for the wastewater industrial sector. Aqua Explorer accompanied DANA from its initial idea, through a successful prototype and further continues its involvement in the project. 'We are the hands of the DANA development', describes CEO Reimond Olthof from Aqua Explorer. Two other associates in the research and development of DANA are Agriton, a supplier of soil improving products in the agricultural field, and the Life Sciences department at the NHL, Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden, a Netherlands-based research institute, which is active in the field of biotechnology, process technology and microbiology.

New Synergies

Tamar Arbel explains that after two years of research and development and two successful pilots, DANA is now ready to be formally launched. 'In order to further enhance the relationship that was built between the companies in the research and development stage, we are now working closely on jointly commercializing DANA'. A first commercial implementation will be set up in Europe in the coming months.

The operational costs of DANA are lower by 40% compared with the operational costs of existing traditional systems. This is achieved thanks to the fact that DANA spares a number of components used when there are two separate devices, and the gas created by the micro-organisms also provides the necessary energy to run the facilities. 'The system is attractive in means of financial savings, footprint and greenhouse gases emissions', declares Leshem, 'It is a perfect example of synergy - we take two things, add them together and receive a result that is greater than the sum of both.

This synergy effect depicted in the technology can also be found in the research and development process: EUREKA brought together a number of collaborators and the result is greater than the sum of them. Leshem describes it this way: 'The special thing about EUREKA, which is different than a regular funding platform, is the fact that it encourages the companies to bring their own specialization and create together a high-value result. If each of the partners had tried to develop such a system individually, it would have taken a decade more. Without EUREKA, the project would have never come into existence'. Olthof adds: 'For small companies with limited innovation budgets, the EUREKA label is a significant asset.'