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Application of Microbial Fuel Cells for waste water treatment

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MEMBio (Application of Microbial Fuel Cells for waste water treatment)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2018-06-01 al 2018-09-30

We need water for everything: for our personal use, to grow food, and to produce virtually all the goods required for our survival. Although water covers about 70% of the Earth’s crust, we can rely on only 10% of all rainfall available for personal, agricultural and industrial use. Globally, the water demand per capita has increased over the last 25 years to 19,804 m3/person per year and it is projected to increase by 55% globally by 2050, which is higher than total currently available water supplies in the respective catchment areas. In this context, the reuse of wastewater could overcome this challenge satisfying the growing global water demand. Nowadays, only an 11% of the global freshwater withdrawals, released into the environment as wastewater, is submitted to an adequate treatment for reuse. The MEMBIO project arises as a result of many years work, experimenting and developing a new revolutionary membrane technology for wastewater treatment. Our company presents a technology based on microbial fuel cells (MFC), which emerges as a strong candidate to satisfy sustainably the water requirements, where the current technology in water treatment underperform. The operational and financial feasibility assessment have allowed us to fix a price of 180 € per unit and an investment needed to reach a go-to-market stage for MEMBIO project of € 1.5 Mil. The water and wastewater treatment market, was valued at € 534 bn in 2016 and it is expected to growth at a CAGR of 4.2% from 2017 to 2025 driven by the rising demand of freshwater for drinking, industrialization and agriculture. In this context, MEMBIO will play an essential role based on its potential cost reductions and improved performance versus the current treatment systems. We have evaluated three possible economic scenarios for our financial projections, considering different combinations of commercialization through our company or a distributor. Our MFC will be profitable even under the most pessimistic scenario we have analysed. The more realistic case will provide a ROI of 325% in 3 years. Hence, the positive feedback obtained from the feasibility study have encouraged us to apply for EC funding through Phase 2, which is aimed at completing the large-scale industrial production plan, MFC prototype construction and testing stages required before we are able to sell our solution to costumers within the wastewater treatment sector at international level.
The summary of the main achievements after perform the feasibility study of MEMBIO are detailed below:

The technical feasibility assessment performed has enabled us to define the tasks and the roadmap to consider in our technical development plan for the next 2 years in order to develop for the final MFC prototype construction. The work performed during this Phase 1 has allowed us to perform an in-depth regulation standards related to water and wastewater treatment. Finally, we have identified the most suitable suppliers to achieve the large-scale manufacturing of our MFC.
We have explored the market opportunity of our technology within the market by analysing the water treatment sector, especially the water treatment segment, where our solution could take full advantage of its potential. After asses the market strategy for the commercialization of our solution, we have decided to divide it into three phases: MEMBIO development, market entrance and international expansion. Finally, our FTO analysis showed that there is no public patent that represent a risk for our business plan and we have decided to protect MEMBIO by means of secret.
With a total value of more than € 534 bn in 2016, of which € 46 is coming from water treatment systems, is evident the great potential of the water market. This observation sustains the significant business opportunities for the MEMBIO project, especially within the water treatment segment, the one we aim to enter and so the one to which we will devote the next technical and commercial efforts.
Once we have carefully analysed during the financial feasibility analysis, we conclude that our project will be highly profitable under any described scenario we have analysed as the more realistic scenario provides a ROI of 325% in 3 years. Based on our commercialization strategy we have fixed a price of 180 € in developed countries and 140 € for developing countries. We have established the total funding requirements for the execution of the MEMBIO project in € 1,502,946.
ÆNEAM S.L. has developed a membrane technology, whose manufacturing process is based on a sequential slip-casting and freeze templating techniques. We were progressing constantly to reach its current concept and its evolution was based on findings from laboratory scale testing and a need to perform even under highly challenging tasks, such as lindane elimination. The implementation of our technology in the current water treatment systems will allow to obtain reusable water at a cost of less than 0.5 €/ m3, since it is a very simple and extremely low energy demanding, while generating low sludge content, this reducing the environmental problems and avoiding further treatment.