PATENTED ELECTRO-BIOCHEMICAL REACTOR (EBR)
INOTEC’s Patented Electro-biochemical Reactor
EBR technology represents a new concept in wastewater treatment that substantially advances the proven microbe-based water treatment methods. Typically, microbial enzymes alter [metal, metalloid, and inorganic] contaminants by adding electrons. As electrons are added, contaminants are either released in environmentally benign forms (e.g., nitrates are converted to nitrogen and oxygen) or safely recovered (e.g., arsenate is converted to arsenic or arsenic sulfides and selenium is converted to elemental selenium).
In conventional systems, these electrons come from nutrients and reagents added to the system. Excess nutrients/reagents are required to adjust the environmental conditions within the system so reactions will go to the desired end products. Additional nutrients/reagents are required for use by the microbes for basic cellular processes (cell growth, energy, and reproduction) and for chemical reactions occurring within the system. Because the microbes and treatment system environment are highly stressed, these systems are sensitive and relatively inefficient requiring additional nutrients/reagents.
INOTEC’s EBR technology addresses these shortcomings by directly supplying excess electrons (easy energy), needed for all chemical and biological reactions, for microbial growth, chemical interactions, and contaminant transformation (removal); one volt supplies 6.02 x 1023 electrons, about one trillion, trillion electrons. These electrons cost effectively replace the electrons normally supplied by excess nutrients and chemicals added to conventional treatment systems. A small photovoltaic array or battery is can provide a low-voltage electron gradient across the bioreactor (see diagram below). This approach offers a number of advantages:
- Compatibility: The EBR can be used alone or as a component of site specific modular wastewater treatment systems.
- Efficiency: Microbes are not balancing growth with contaminant conversion and, as a result, are less stressed, can grow to higher density, and contaminant removal can proceed at a faster rate. The provision of electrons results in a dramatically improved throughput (capacity) for a given footprint and per dollar invested and effluent water quality is improved.
- Control: Performance can be stabilized and tuned by modifying the electron gradient.
- Robustness: The system is less stressed and is thus less prone to disruption, e.g., due to contamination with undesirable microbes and changes in water quality. The EBR technology uses indigenous (native),non-pathogenic, and environmentally benign microbes rather than exotic strains, which further improves system robustness. The result is a reduced risk of shut down, which is critical in continuous treatment systems.
- Operating costs: Supplying electrons directly reduces the need to provide nutrients and other reagents in excess. 1,000’s of time less sludge is produced and in a form that can easily be recycled rather than disposed of as hazardous wastes.
In short, EBR technology starts with the best aspects of proven microbial and chemical systems and takes them to the next level of performance and cost-effectiveness.
REDOX COMPARISON: A classical two stage bioreactor (CBR) is shown in dark blue diamonds on this graph and the data points cover several small changes in influent water chemistry. A single stage EBR is shown in light blue circles covering the same period with the same waters and ½ the nutrient. Note the stability in the ORP in the EBR system. All reactors were operated under conditions that approximated plug flow (up flow).
INOTEC’s EBR TECHNOLOGY is in an ideal position relative to cost and treatment effectiveness. Based on bench and pilot-scale testing, the EBR produces higher quality water in less time and at lower cost than competition technologies. Costs shown are relative and reflect comparisons on similar water chemistries and at similar scale. All technologies have advantages in given situations and water chemistries and no one technology is best for all situations. The EBR technology can be used alone or in combination with conventional treatment system components to treat many types of wastewaters with the goal of producing a higher quality effluent water.