Keeping wastewater treatment self-contained...and portable
In 2010, Active Water Sciences (AWS) of Palestine, Texas won the Wall Street Journal Innovation Award for their portable, self-contained wastewater-treatment system, the Water Phoenix. The ability to convert municipal wastewater into effluent that meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards in less than 24 hours with a result of little to no sludge is a big deal, not only to the wastewater treatment industry, but to the Green Movement, as well.
Currently, and according to AWS’ website, “Portable systems either store the waste for later disposal or dump waste with exceedingly high contaminants into the environment. With the increasing global concern for environmental care and tightening regulatory restrictions on wastewater removal, there is a large demand for a system that processes waste on-site to a point where it can be immediately disposed.” AWS is seeking to change and improve all that.
AWS offers several portable systems, but they all yield the same result. They all seek to assist in improving the environment, and a self-contained wastewater-treatment system is a huge innovation in the wastewater treatment industry. It is one that could not only greatly reduce a customer’s carbon footprint, but one that is extremely cost reducing, as well. Talbot Presley, Vice President of Sales for AWS, says, “This system costs half of what a typical treatment plant costs.”
There is no risk of contamination to surrounding bodies of water, which means there is no downstream effect, either. In fact, the treated water is clean enough that it is even often used for irrigation.
The self-contained treatment system technology was in development for a decade prior to being launched as a physical product. The process began as an academic venture at Sam Houston University in conjunction with the Air Force Institute. The goal in mind was to develop a treatment system that could remove biological or chemical agents from a water supply. The result was a system that was small yet highly efficient. Product Concept Development, a technology innovation firm, adapted the original design, and from there, in 2009, Active Water Sciences emerged as the sole manufacturer of treatment systems using a biological treatment process.
AWS offers systems that process up to 50,000 gallons per day, but are willing to customize configurations to accommodate unique flow rates. Their treatment system is made up of three units—a treatment unit, a control unit and an optional buffer unit. The treatment unit is where the bacterial processing of the wastewater takes place, as well as provides sediment removal and processes effluent. The control unit houses the control, power and bacterial resupply systems, and the optional buffer unit provides surge protection and pre-processing of waste.
The main technology AWS uses is based around the use of a proprietary set of naturally occurring bacteria, according to Talbot Presley, Vice President of Sales for AWS. Unlike traditional “activated sludge” systems, the AWS technology is highly aggressive in removing virtually all organic material from a wastewater stream in a very short time. The use of AWS’s proprietary set of bacteria, or “bacteria consortium,” allows for this high treatment efficiency and resulting lack of sludge production, which in turn translates to operating costs 40-60% less than traditional systems. And because their systems are portable, they can be, and have been, involved in disaster relief.
All of AWS’ manufacturing takes place in Texas, and Presley says, “We focus on what we’re good at and outsource what we’re not. We know the science.”
Headquarters is also in Texas, and AWS is a small company that is growing as rapidly as the Green Movement. This is one bandwagon people in the industry should be clamoring to hop onto.