Dow invests in OxyMem’s wastewater treatment technology

Posted: April 18, 2016

  • Investment will accelerate commercialisation of OxyMem’s wastewater treatment system
  • Company's method of wastewater aeration results in four-fold saving on energy costs

The US chemical giant Dow has made an investment in OxyMem Ltd, a University College Dublin spin-out company producing technology that efficiently treats pollutants in wastewater.

The investment will accelerate the commercialisation of OxyMem’s promising wastewater treatment technology, the Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR).

The Dow Chemical Company, delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in 180 countries in high-growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings and agriculture. Dow had annual sales of $49 billion last year.

OxyMem was co-founded by Professor Eoin Casey, Dr Eoin Syron and Wayne Byrne in 2013 as a spin-out from UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.

Wastewater aeration is the process of adding air into wastewater to allow aerobic biodegradation – the breakdown of organic contaminants by microorganisms when oxygen is present – of the pollutant components.

Pictured top: Dr Eoin Syron and Professor Eoin Casey, co-founders of UCD spin-out firm OxyMem, which multinational giant Dow Chemical Company has invested in; and below, a short video explaining how OxyMem's technology solves energy intensive wastewater treatment with smart aeration

OxyMem’s Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) technology dramatically reduces the operating costs for wastewater aeration and results in a four-fold saving on energy costs when compared to forced aeration, the current industry standard.

The company’s technology does not rely on the traditional method of wastewater aeration of using bubbles to transfer oxygen to the bacteria in wastewater.

Instead, it uses gas permeable membranes, which allows oxygen to be transferred directly to the bacteria treating the wastewater, resulting in up to 99% transfer efficiency, as no oxygen is lost in the atmosphere.

“OxyMem’s MABR technology shows excellent promise in lowering operational costs for the wastewater treatment process due to reduced energy demand,” said Snehal Desai, global business director for Dow Water and Process Solutions.

“This also makes the technology a strong sustainability value proposition – it can help encourage greater adoption of water reuse and as a result, advance a circular economy that makes water a well-managed resource, sustained by advances in science and technology.”

“Securing the investment from Dow, an innovation leader, augurs well for the future of the company,” said Wayne Byrne, Managing Director of OxyMem.

“I believe that we have an important technology that can make a sizeable contribution in the wastewater market where there is a significant need for more efficient infrastructure solutions.”

Last December, UCD President, Professor Andrew J. Deeks, presented the NovaUCD 2015 Innovation Award to the co-founders of OxyMem, Professor Eoin Casey and Dr Eoin Syron.

In January, Oxymem was named in the 2015 Global Cleantech 100 list – only Irish company to make the list of innovative clean technology companies.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, University Relations UCD