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Oxymem Founders win NovaUCD Innovation Award

Thursday, 28 April, 2016

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University College Dublin (UCD) today honoured the co-founders of OxyMem (www.oxymem.com) by presenting them with the NovaUCD 2015 Innovation Award.

The Award was presented to Professor Eoin Casey and Dr Eoin Syron, both researchers in the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, by UCD President, Professor Andrew J Deeks during an event held at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

The award was presented to them in recognition of the success and impact which OxyMem, a UCD spin-out, has achieved to date in the international, multi-billion euro wastewater treatment industry.

OxyMem’s Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) technology is disrupting the global wastewater treatment sector, estimated to be worth €30 billion, by servicing a compelling market demand for energy efficient wastewater treatment without increasing the cost of capital equipment.

UCD President Professor Andrew J Deeks said, “The NovaUCD 2015 Innovation Award was presented to Professor Casey and Dr Syron in recognition of the successes they have achieved to date through the quality and impact of their research and through the impact of OxyMem in the global wastewater treatment industry. OxyMem, established to commercialise world-class UCD research outputs, is an excellent example of the quality of companies now emerging from the University. While only established in 2013, OxyMem has already grown significantly, employing over 40 people and already securing international clients.”

For the last 100 years or so biological aerobic processes, primarily based on Activated Sludge treatment, have been the cornerstone of all municipal, and the majority of industrial wastewater treatment processes, around the world.

It involves the treatment of wastewater by bacteria in the presence of oxygen. With these process, typically less than 30% of the oxygen supplied is transferred to the wastewater resulting in an enormous energy waste. Even with the most recent developments in fine bubble aeration technologies the maximum oxygen transfer efficiency is limited to about 35-40%.

The technological breakthrough made at UCD by Professor Casey and Dr Syron, developed and refined with funding provided by Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, does not rely on a bubble to transfer oxygen. Instead, the innovative MABR technology uses gas permeable membranes, which allows oxygen to be transferred directly to the wastewater treating bacteria. This technology dramatically reduces the operating costs for wastewater aeration and result in a four-fold saving on energy costs when compared to forced aeration, the current industry standard.

The technology also delivers superior nitrogen removal, reduced chemical usage, reduced sludge production, on a significantly smaller plant footprint, and can be fully automated.

This results in substantially lower energy, chemical and staffing costs for wastewater operators.

On receiving the NovaUCD 2015 Innovation Award, Professor Eoin Casey, Head, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering said, “On behalf of Dr Eoin Syron and myself we are delighted to receive this prestigious University College Dublin award. The award not only recognises the success of OxyMem over the last few years but also recognises the 10 years of research and development activities at UCD on which OxyMem is built.”

‌OxyMem currently operates a 25,000 sq. ft. facility and offices in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, to manufacture the OxyMem Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor. The company employs over 40 people and has already raised €2.5 million from investors and Enterprise Ireland and secured clients in Ireland, UK, Spain, Sweden and in North America, Middle East and Far East.

Congratulating his OxyMem co-founders on receiving the NovaUCD 2015 Innovation Award, Wayne Byrne, Managing Director, OxyMem, said, “Since we established OxyMem it has continued to grow from strength to strength and we continue to look towards enhanced co-operation with UCD for 2016 and beyond. Looking to the future, the company, which recently opened an office in the US to service growing demand in the North American market, is planning to increase manufacturing 3-fold and to create at least 15 new jobs during 2016. We expect to have some very exciting announcements in Q1 2016 so please continue to watch this space.”

The NovaUCD Innovation Award was established in 2004 to highlight University College Dublin’s commitment to innovation. The Award is presented annually to an individual, company or organisation or group in recognition of excellence in innovation or of success achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research or other intellectual activity.
Former recipients include Dr Viliam Holub and Dr Trevor Parsons, the co-founders of Logentries, who received the NovaUCD 2013 Innovation Award. Last October Logentries, a UCD spin-out company, was acquired by Rapid7 for $68 million.