MSABP: Can You Say Sludgeless?

Aquarius Technology builds on Russian inventor's success in eliminating sludge

Three years ago, Aquarius Technologies Inc. introduced its breakthrough wastewater treatment technology. Now, the company has signed a five-year, multimillion dollar exclusive supply and licensing contract with Teijin Limited, a textiles, pharmaceuticals, and plastics manufacturer headquartered in Japan.

That success is in addition to completing nearly 50 projects ranging from $10,000 to $2 million spanning seven different countries on four continents.

The technology company offers:

  • The multi-stage activated biological treatment process (MSABP), which treats both municipal and industrial wastewater by preventing sludge. Naturally occurring microbial food chains on fixed film media oxidize the pollutants and digest the sludge, which occurs over a 24-hour detention period in typical municipal applications. This results in reducing operating costs of a typical wastewater treatment plant by up to 40 percent.
  • The electro-catalytic process (ELCAT) purifies toxic and non-biodegradable soluble material from industrial wastewater.
  • Fine and coarse bubble aeration systems.

Efim Monosov, Ph.D., immigrated to Israel from Russia, started an engineering firm, and developed the MSABP process. The solutions were first proven in Israel. Investors from L Capital Partners, a midsized venture-capital firm, took the opportunity to expand the technology to the global market. They recruited Thomas Pokorsky, a 30-year veteran of the industry, who needed to see the process in action in Israel before signing on as chief executive officer.

Pokorsky opened the office of Aquarius Technologies Inc. in Port Washington, Wis., and within 60 days had assembled a management team of experienced wastewater professionals with a combined experience of nearly 150 years in the manufacture and sale of wastewater treatment equipment. Over time, the company hired engineers and technicians who averaged more than 20 years experience in the field, and more than 30 independent sales representatives signed on to sell equipment to the municipal and industrial wastewater treatment markets.

The team developed a plan to introduce the technology to the North American market as well as continued marketing in select global areas. Research and product development were a priority. Since then, more than 20 pilot studies have been conducted at various wastewater plants and, at any given time, about five new pilot studies are under way. Aquarius Technologies Inc. introduced three new aeration products that can be used within the MSABP process or at any other biological wastewater treatment plant.

Northern Moraine Utility Commission piloted Aquarius Technologies' multi-stage activated biological treatment process and plans to retrofit its plant with the technology this year.

The company expects its MSABP technology to expand. In addition to significantly reducing operating costs, it also resolves the issues related to landapplying and transporting sludge and finding a permitted landfill.

A recent study conducted by Northern Moraine Utility Commission in Glenbeulah, Wis., underscored the economic sense of using the technology.

The commission operates a wastewater plant that serves about 6,000 people from a number of small communities in central Wisconsin. The plant can treat 600,000 gallons per day during the tourist season. It performs well but is aging. The commission is considering an upgrade but would need to build new sludge storage facilities that would cost about $750,000. A current sludge-hauling contract was about to expire and a new one would be more than $4,000 per month. If the commission retrofitted the plant to the MSABP process, these two issues would be eliminated.

To gather more information, the commission agreed to a pilot test of the Aquarius process. In February 2007, a 4,000 gallon per day demonstration plant was installed at the Northern Moraine Utility Commission's facility. The goal of the trial was two-fold:

  • to determine the treatment capability of the process, and
  • to evaluate the ability of the system to perform in cold weather applications.

Mixed liquor from the existing biological treatment units was used to seed the MSABP. Even with 7-8°C wastewater temperatures, the unit was able to achieve full treatment and stable operations within three weeks, which is typical for biological treatment processes.

The demonstration project continued through to the summer months. Influent and effluent samples were taken three times per week and analyzed by the commission as well as by independent analytical laboratories. Flow rates to the process were adjusted to mirror winter and summer treatment conditions.

Throughout the study, the effluent quality exceeded the levels mandated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources without the generation of waste sludge that would need to be treated with conventional treatment facilities. It also confirmed, during the demonstration phase, that the natural selection of the biology within the process profoundly simplifies plant operation when contrasted with other biological processes.

Independent analysts observed that MSABP offers greater sustainability and reduced carbon footprint when contrasted with current treatment practices such as conventional activated sludge with biosolids digestion and handling.

The results of the study showed that the conversion of the plant to the MSABP process is a cost-effective alternative. The commission plans to proceed with the MSABP retrofit in mid-2009.

About the Authors

Thomas Pokorsky is president and chief executive officer of Aquarius Technologies Inc. He previously held the position of president of ITT Industries Advanced Water Treatment division. Over the last 30 years, Pokorsky has led numerous merger and acquisition transactions in the water industry. He earned a degree in civil engineering from Marquette University and is active in the Water Environment Federation, Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufactures Association, American Water Works Association, and Wisconsin Wastewater Operators Association.

David Lauer, a 20-year industry veteran, is responsible for bringing Aquarius' wastewater treatment technologies to the North American market as vice president of sales and marketing. Lauer is former regional sales manager of ITT Industries Advanced Water Treatment division. He earned a degree in environmental engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master's degree in business administration from Marquette University. Lauer is a registered professional engineer in the state of Wisconsin. He is an active member of the Water Environment Federation, Central States Water Environment Association, and Wisconsin Wastewater Operators Association.