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Sewage Treatment - Micromidas has Green Technology for a Messy Problem

As I noted in an earlier post, the matter of figuring out the best way to dispose of human waste has been haunting mankind since the beginnings of civilization.   Current treatment of raw sewage results in large quantities of sludge which is not good fertilizer and is laden with toxic materials. Disposing of sludge is a huge problem for waste treatment plants.   Enter Micromidas, a finalist at the Clean Tech Open.  They have an idea - and it sounds like it's loadSludgeSludgeed with win!

Why It's Keen:  

Using Microbes, they are able to convert the CO2 in the sludge into polyhydroxylalkanoate (PHA) flakes which then can be turned into bio-plastics.  Bio-plastics can be used for plastic containers and function similar to synthetic plastics.   Finally, by capturing carbon that would normally be released into the atmosphere the process should result in carbon credits, mostly likely for the municipality who runs the sewage treatment plant.  If this turns out to be true, it could be a key element in turning this technology into a reality as it will make it easier to be economically as well as environmentally justified.  

Why It's Green:  

Micromidas is green on several different levels.

  • The volume of sludge produced will be dramatically reduced greatly reducing the volume of toxic waste.  
  • Biodegradable plastics are greener than typical plastic bottles.   Besides the obvious waste issues of disposing of synthetic plastic, the production of synthetic plastics emits a tremendous amount of pollution into the atmosphere. 
  • By extracting CO2 in treatment process, less CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere. 

The Challenge

The next big challenge for Mircomidas is to take this lab technology and prove that it can scale to a real customer environment as well as prove it to be an economically viable solution for their target customers (municipal waste water treatment plants).   They are currently targeting a pilot for the middle of 2010.  Micromidas is definitely green, certainly keen and KeenForGreen will be checking in on them in the future to see how they are evolving.