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Designing a Miniaturized Water Therapy Plant at Eden Tech

This sponsored article is delivered to you by COMSOL.

The 1985 action-adventure TV collection MacGyver showcased the lifetime of Angus MacGyver, a undercover agent who solved issues utilizing gadgets he had available. For instance, in a single episode, he made a warmth protect out of used fridge components. In one other, he made a fishing lure with a sweet wrapper. Greater than three a long time later, the present nonetheless has relevance. The verb MacGyver, to design one thing in a makeshift or inventive approach, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015.

Strive placing your MacGyver abilities to the take a look at: Should you have been handed some CDs, what would you make out of them? Reflective wall artwork, mosaic ornaments, or a wind chime, maybe? What a few miniaturized water therapy plant?

That is what a staff of engineers and researchers are doing at Eden Tech, an organization based mostly in Paris, France, that makes a speciality of the event of microfluidics know-how. Inside their R&D division, Eden Cleantech, they’re creating a compact, energy-saving water therapy system to assist sort out the rising presence of micropollutants in wastewater. To investigate the efficiency of their AKVO system (named after the Latin phrase for water, aqua), which is made out of CDs, Eden Tech turned to multiphysics simulation.

Contaminants of Rising Concern

“There are numerous methods micropollutants make it into wastewater,” says Wei Zhao, a senior chemical engineer and chief product officer at Eden Tech. The rise of those microscopic chemical compounds in wastewater worldwide is a results of day by day human actions. As an example, after we wash our arms with cleaning soap, wipe down our sinks with cleansing provides, or flush medicines out of our our bodies, varied chemical compounds are washed down the drain and find yourself in sewage methods. A few of these chemical compounds are labeled as micropollutants, or contaminants of rising concern (CECs). Along with home waste, agricultural air pollution and industrial waste are additionally accountable for the rise of micropollutants in our waterways.

Micropollutants are added to the world’s lakes, rivers, and streams on daily basis. Many standard wastewater therapy vegetation usually are not outfitted to take away these probably hazardous chemical residues from wastewater.

Sadly, many standard wastewater therapy vegetation (WWTP, Determine 1) usually are not designed to take away these contaminants. Due to this fact, they’re typically reintroduced to varied our bodies of water, together with rivers, streams, lakes, and even ingesting water. Though the chance they pose to human and environmental well being shouldn’t be totally understood, the growing variety of air pollution discovered on the earth’s our bodies of water is of concern.

A wastewater treatment plant seen from above, with multiple tanks and channels filled with water.

Determine 1. Most standard water therapy vegetation usually are not in a position to take away micropollutants.

Ivan Bandura/Unsplash

With this rising downside in thoughts, Eden Tech set to work on creating an answer, thus AKVO was born. Every AKVO CD core is designed to have a diameter of 15 cm and a thickness of two mm. One AKVO cartridge consists of stacked CDs of various numbers, mixed to create a miniaturized manufacturing facility. One AKVO core treats 0.5 to 2 m3 water/day, which signifies that an AKVO system composed of 10,000 CDs can deal with common municipal wants. This raises the query: How can a tool made out of CDs decontaminate water?

A Sustainable Wastewater Therapy Methodology

A single AKVO system (Determine 2) consists of a customizable cartridge full of stacked CDs that every have a microchannel community inscribed on them. It removes undesirable parts in wastewater, like micropollutants, by circulating the water in its microchannel networks. These networks are vitality savvy as a result of they solely require a small pump to flow into and clear massive volumes of water. The AKVO system’s cartridges can simply get replaced, with Eden Tech caring for their recycling.

The AKVO device, which consists of a transparent cylinder filled with a stack of CDs.

Determine 2. AKVO with all of its parts labeled.

AKVO’s revolutionary design combines photocatalysis and microfluidics into one compact system. Photocatalysis, a kind of superior oxidation course of (AOP), is a quick and efficient method to take away micropollutants from wastewater. In comparison with different AOPs, it’s thought of safer and extra sustainable as a result of it’s powered by a light-weight supply. Throughout photocatalysis, gentle is absorbed by photocatalysts which have the flexibility to create electron-hole pairs, which generate free hydroxyl radicals which are in a position to react with goal pollution and degrade them. The mix of photocatalysis and microfluidics for the therapy of wastewater has by no means been achieved earlier than. “It’s a very bold challenge,” stated Zhao. “We wished to develop an modern technique in an effort to present an environmentally pleasant, environment friendly method to deal with wastewater.” AKVO’s present design didn’t come simple, as Zhao and his staff confronted a number of design challenges alongside the way in which.

Overcoming Design Challenges

When in use, a chemical agent (catalyst) and wastewater are dispersed by means of AKVO’s microchannel partitions. The aim of the catalyst, titanium dioxide on this case, is to react with the micropollutants and assist take away them within the course of. Nevertheless, AKVO’s quick stream fee complicates this motion. “The massive downside is that [AKVO] has microchannels with quick stream charges, and typically after we put the chemical agent inside one of many channels’ partitions, the micropollutants within the wastewater can’t react effectively with the agent,” stated Zhao. With a view to enhance the chance of contact between the micropollutants and the immobilized chemical agent, Zhao and his staff opted to make use of a staggered herringbone micromixer (SHM) design for AKVO’s microchannel networks (Determine 3).

To investigate the efficiency of the SHM design to assist chemical reactions for micropollutant degradation, Zhao used the COMSOL Multiphysics software program.

Simulating Chemical Reactions for Micropollutant Degradation

In his work, Zhao constructed two totally different fashions in COMSOL Multiphysics (Determine 4), named the Specific Floor Adsorption (ESA) mannequin and the Transformed Floor Focus (CSC) mannequin. Each of those fashions account for chemical and fluid phenomena.

In each fashions, Zhao discovered that AKVO’s SHM construction creates vortices within the stream shifting by means of it, which permits the micropollutants and the chemical agent to have an extended response interval and enhances the mass switch between every fluid layer. Nevertheless, the outcomes of the ESA mannequin displayed that the design purified about 50 p.c of the micropollutants below therapy, fewer than what Zhao anticipated.

Not like the ESA mannequin (Determine 5), within the CSC mannequin, it’s assumed that there isn’t a adsorption limitation. Due to this fact, so long as a micropollutant arrives on the floor of a catalyst, a response occurs, which has been mentioned in current literature (Ref. 1). On this mannequin, Zhao analyzed how the design carried out for the degradation of six totally different micropollutants, together with gemfibrozil, ciprofloxacin, carbamazepine, clofibric acid, bisphenol A, and acetaminophen (Determine 6). The outcomes of this mannequin have been according to what Zhao anticipated, with greater than 95 p.c of the micropollutants being handled.

“We’re actually glad with the outcomes of COMSOL Multiphysics. My subsequent steps will likely be centered on laboratory testing [of the AKVO prototype]. We predict to have our first prototype prepared by the start of 2022,” stated Zhao. The prototype will ultimately be examined at hospitals and water therapy stations within the south of France.

Utilizing simulation for this challenge has helped the Eden Tech staff save money and time. Creating a prototype of a microfluidic system, like AKVO, is expensive. To imprint microchannel networks on every of AKVO’s CDs, a microchannel photomask is required. In accordance with Zhao, to manufacture one photomask would value about €3000 (3500 USD). Due to this fact, it is vitally essential that they’re assured that their system works effectively previous to its fabrication. “COMSOL Multiphysics has actually helped us validate our fashions and our designs,” stated Zhao.

Pioneer within the Therapy of Micropollutants

In 2016, Switzerland launched laws mandating that wastewater therapy vegetation take away micropollutants from wastewater. Their objective? Filter out over 80 p.c of micropollutants at greater than 100 Swiss WWTPs. Following their lead, many different international locations are at the moment pondering of how they need to deal with the rising presence of those contaminants of their waterways. AKVO has the potential to offer a compact, environmentally pleasant approach to assist sluggish this ongoing downside.

The following time you go to throw out an outdated CD, or every other family merchandise for that matter, ask your self: What would MacGyver do? Or, higher but: What would Eden Tech do? You is likely to be holding the constructing blocks for his or her subsequent modern design.


  1. C. S. Turchi, D. F. Ollis, “Photocatalytic degradation of natural water contaminants: Mechanisms involving hydroxyl radical assault,” Journal of Catalysis, Vol. 122, p. 178, 1990.

MacGyver is a registered trademark of CBS Studios Inc. COMSOL AB and its subsidiaries and merchandise usually are not affiliated with, endorsed by, sponsored by, or supported by CBS Studios Inc.



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