Friday, May 25, 2012

ElectroCell: Zapping Sludge

Algae Bloom in St. John's River, Florida
Hold your nose, ElectroCell (private) is dealing with some smelling stuff  -  liquid waste from towns and farms.  Based in Vermont, the company offers a novel bio-electric treatment system for liquid organic wastes that are otherwise treated with expensive, highly manual disposal systems.

Municipalities have built significant infrastructure, usually at the city’s border, to treat and disperse liquid waste.  According to ElectroCell over twelve trillion gallons of waste water are processed each year in 21,000 publicly owned treatment plants.  The streams from sewer systems are piped into massive holding tanks where the organic matter in the water is broken down by anaerobic and aerobic processes. 

When these microbial systems are overwhelmed or bypassed, organic matter gets into open waterways and create algae blooms.  Just this week officials in Maryland were grappling with the loss of thousands of fish in Anne Arundel Creek, which was apparently the result of an algae bloom.  Waste run off from towns and farms appears to have got into the waterways after heavy rains. 

Municipalities are not the only ones grappling with messy liquid waste issues.  Livestock producers, dairies and food-processing plants face similar problems.  ElectroCell estimates there are over 140,000 livestock farms and 30,000 food processing plants in the U.S. produce trillions of gallons of waste water chock full of organic matter.  ElectroCell management thinks all these waste producers could use the company’s patented system. 

Surprisingly simple, the system sends electric pulses through the waste stream as it travels through a narrow winding pipeline.  The pulses rupture and kill organic cells in the liquid.  This action breaks down the liquid waste faster than the anaerobic or aerobic processes in conventional treatment plants.  ElectroCell's process destroys up to 99.75% of pathogens, 90% of phosphorus and 50% of nitrogen in the liquid.  The process dramatically increases the dissolved oxygen in the liquid by destroying the biological oxygen demand from the organic cells.  Farms get the added benefit of being able to apply treated waste to fields without additional treatment.  Did we mention reduces odors?

The ElectroCell system is available in both portable and installed form factors, making it economically feasible even for small operations that do not need to treat wastes every day.  Another big plus for large and small customers alike is that no expensive alterations to existing plant infrastructure are needed.

ElectroCell’s management team - CEO Buzz Hoerr and COO Bryan Ducharme - are making the rounds among investors these days.  I heard their presentation at NYC CleanTech Opportunities event hosted by Hodgson Russ.  A private company, the duo was tightlipped on financials, but a non-disclosure agreement would get the details for a risk tolerant investor.  ElectroCell needs $1.5 million for a Series B capital raise.  In return managment promises to reshape liquid waste treatment in the U.S.


Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can electrocell "destroy" "90% of phosphorus and 50% of nitrogen in the liquid". Conservation of matter dictates that you can never destory matter. Where do these nutrients go after treatment and how does it "destroy"/remove them?