Microbial Solutions Ltd, a newly formed spin-out company from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, announced this week that it has raised £1.2 million to commercialise its innovative wastewater treatment technology, which uses a collection of non-pathogenic bacteria to cleanse toxic metal working fluids from the engineering industry. 

Dr Chris van der Gast from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, "Establishing a new business to market a new commercial project is an exciting venture. We've got a really strong management team in place to take the business forward and we're delighted to have secured this funding to take our technology to market.”

The new treatment method is based on microbiological technology developed by Professor Ian Thompson and Dr Christopher van der Gast. The scientists, in collaboration with the NERC Commercialisation Team and Oxford-based investors H2O Venture Partners, identified a market need for the technology and formed Microbial Solutions Ltd in August 2007

The new investment round was led by Oxford Capital Partners investing alongside H2O Venture Partners, who also provided management input to develop the Company.  The Rainbow Seed Fund, the Company’s initial investor, committed further capital in this round.  Microbial Solutions Ltd has also announced a partnership with Houghton Europe, the leading provider of industrial fluids, which will see the two firms provide a complete supply and treatment process to major manufacturing companies using industrial fluids.

Prof. William Pope, Chief Executive Officer of Microbial Solutions Ltd, commented: “Our Microcycle™ Technology can revolutionize the treatment and disposal of metal working fluids.  It can generate significant cost savings as future disposal costs rise - the costs of waste disposal in Europe alone are already estimated at around 1 billion euros per annum - and, unlike existing facilities, our bioreactors are straightforward to scale up.

“Our treatment is particularly relevant in the current marketplace as Industry faces increasing pressure from regulators to significantly reduce the pollution and toxicity of waste fluids as well as the amount of waste sent to landfill, and to reduce the impact of climate change gas generation.  Microcycle™ hits all these targets.”

Current disposal processes for metal working fluids, the oily lubricants used to ensure clean cutting processes during drilling and manufacturing, require the used fluids to be transported offsite by tanker to specialist treatment facilities.  These treatment processes are themselves energy intensive, are expensive, cannot remove all the toxic components - and still leave a residual oily waste that then has to be transported to landfill for disposal, where their anaerobic degradation produces the high impact climate change gas, methane.  With such disposal options reducing and costs rising, manufacturers’ costs are also rising unpredictably. 

By contrast, Microbial Solutions’ innovative on-site bacterial process can treat metal working fluids within seven to ten days in a much more environmentally friendly manner, producing grey water that is safe to dispose of in the sewerage system, and with no methane production in the process - so lower greenhouse gas impact.  Water re-use is also possible, and the Company can offer treatment price certainty and stability to manufacturers, on a non-capital investment "pay-as-you-treat" per litre basis. 

Links

Previous news story: Cheaper toxic waste disposal solutions - 11 September 2007

Media enquiries about this work should be directed to the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Press Office.

Press release issued by Microbial Solutions - January 2008 (external site: Oxford Capital Partners)

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