2010-05-27-CNET - Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies

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2010-05-27-CNET - Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies
Micromidas to test sludge-to-plastic tech | Green Tech - CNET News
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http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20006130-54.html
CNET News
Green Tech
May 27, 2010 7:58 AM PDT
by Martin LaMonica
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Later this year, start-up Micromidas plans to test how well an army of microbes can convert
sludge from wastewater treatment plants into a biodegradable plastic.
The Sacramento, Calif.-based company, which raised $3.6 million last month in series A
venture funding, expects to start pilot testing a waste-to-plastic machine at its labs within a
month. Then in about five months it hopes to take that biorefinery, which can fit in a shipping
container, to a wastewater treatment plant, said CEO and founder John Bissell.
Because it's still early in development, the company
doesn't know how much the system will cost compared
to making the plastic polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)
from glucose or fructose. But if successful, the system
will be valuable to wastewater treatment facilities where
as much as 40 percent of operating costs stem from
handling sewage sludge, Bissell said.
Micromidas is one of a number of companies trying to
create something valuable from waste. In another
example, Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies on
Thursday is opening a facility to convert wastewater
into a fertilizer, which reduces the amount of nutrient
run-off to waterways.
In the case of Micromidas, the company is using the
carbon in sewage sludge as a feedstock to make plastic.
(Credit: Micromidas)
"There are a bunch of nutrients available, which we feed
to our microbes which consume it and then aggregate it," Bissell explained. "They eat it, they
get fat, we kill them, and then we harvest the material."
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Micromidas to test sludge-to-plastic tech | Green Tech - CNET News
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Rather than genetically engineering one "superbug," the company uses a combination of
microbes to essentially eat and digest portions of the sludge, Bissell said. The population can
be adjusted for different facilities, which vary significantly, he said.
Micromidas is taking advantage of Autodesk's Clean Tech Partner program, in which the
design and engineering software company makes its products available for free to qualifying
clean-tech start-ups.
Using simulation software Algor, Micromidas' chemical engineers can "digitally
experiment" with how different processes will work with a different population of microbes,
Bissell said.
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer for CNET's Green Tech blog. He started at
CNET News in 2002, covering IT and Web development. Before that, he was
executive editor at IT publication InfoWorld. E-mail Martin.
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Transformando lama das estações de tratamento de esgoto em um plástico biodegradável...
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Productive use for wastewater treatment sludge?
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