Microbes are paving the way to sustainable wastewater treatment

According to the United Nations World Water Development Report, up to 80 per cent of the global wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused, contributing to a situation where around 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio, which in turn has severe impacts on their physical and learning abilities throughout their lives.

An estimated 14 per cent of the global population still lacks access to electricity. Energy from fossil fuels is the dominant contributor to global climate change accounting for around 60 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Only 51  per cent of all treated water in Abu Dhabi is recycled while the rest is discharged into the environment of which 400,000 m3 is disposed into the South Mussafah Channel.

Wastewater is not treated before disposal since it entails high costs and energy.

BactoWatt was born out of necessity to alleviate the problems of world energy crisis, climate change, clean water and sanitation. Contrary to conventional treatment processes using various chemicals, Bactowatt treats wastewater sustainably using microbes and reduces carbon dioxide emissions, quantity of sludge, cost and treatment time. It also produces viable by-products like renewable energy and reusable grey water.

The technology is based on microbial fuel cells which is a device that converts biochemical energy to electrical energy by the action of microorganisms. The applications of BactoWatt range from wastewater treatment plants and manufacturing industries to low income communities, municipalities and non-profit organisations.

The core idea is to transform wastewater into a renewable resource that proves to be the need of the hour with the current rate of fossil fuel overuse.

As a start-up, BactoWatt plans to advance in three phases. Phase 1 involves innovation partnerships to create the pilot prototype, Phase 2 involves the testing and development of the pilot prototype and Phase 3 involves production and launch of the commercial prototype.