Take a tour of the SWBEC website to find out more about the new processes, bioproducts, publications, patent activity, people, and recent presentations that describe the case for using society’s wastes as renewable resources for improving the quality of life and the environment that is promising for industrialized as well as developing nations.
What if you could take society’s wastes and convert them into valuable products using microbes and biological engineering tools in order to promote national energy independence, sustainable production of bioproducts locally, new industries for new jobs, and protection of human health and the environment?
What do we do?
SWBEC makes valuable bioproducts, including bioplastics, biosolvents, transportation fuels, biomethane, and other high value products from municipal and industrial wastes through the use of “microbial factories.”
What is the scale?
The 460-acre Lagoon (1.1 mile long and 0.63 mile wide) that treats municipal wastewater for Logan City, Utah, has enough nutrients to produce 30 tons (dry weight) of algae per day from April through October. The algae grow by using nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater as fertilizer, and by using natural sunlight, and develop into an “algae farm” that can be harvested every day to provide natural biomass to make valuable bioproducts as described above. There are 7,000 publicly owned lagoons and more industrial waste lagoons in the U.S. that can potentially serve as “algae farms” for processing into bioproducts.
What has been accomplished?
· New processes for culturing and harvesting large amounts of algae in one system using a rotating algae biofilm reactor (RABR);
· New processes for using wet algae (no need for drying) to produce feed streams for producing the bioproducts.
· In 2013 SWBEC will focus on two field-scale operations for wastewater-based algae: (1) enhance scale up of the production of bioplastic material and biosolvents, and (2) test the rotating algae biofilm reactor (RABR) with enhanced surface area.
· This A new Algae Processes and Products (APP) Facility and a 120-Liter fermentor are now implemented for the controlled scale-up production of bioplatics materials and biosolvents, including acetone and butanol. The APP and fermentor have been implemented to build on the preliminary results during the summer of 2012.
· The effect of increasing the RABR substratum surface area per volume of wastewater will be tested for treatment of both municipal wastewater and agriculture wastewater (swine waste). SWBEC will also test the enhanced RABR under winter/cold weather conditions.
· SWBEC will continue to collaborate with the City of Logan, Utah, through 2013 to develop a scale-able approach for applications of wastewater-based algae cultivation, harvesting, and processing for other interested communities both nationally and internationally.