March 25, 2010
SHSU Media Contacts: Bruce Erickson
Sam Houston State University received its first check for royalties from patents it holds for “revolutionary” discoveries that will clean putrid water within 24 hours and leave no toxic by-products.
A check for $62,500 was delivered on March 25 to SHSU president Jim Gaertner by executives of Active Water Sciences LLC, a company that was created specifically to market, build and sell the physical systems themselves, according to Dan Davis, the university’s associate vice president for commercialization of technology.
Davis said the technology has a “huge future potential both for applications, sales and for revenues.”
The university also “holds an equity position in AWS” and will derive future revenues from licensing the patented technology.
Sabin Holland, who manages the research and development of the systems through the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies at Sam Houston State, said the system is based on a proprietary consortium of bacteria.
“In the right combination and in the right medium, they have the capability to clean polluted water very quickly and very efficiently. It truly is a revolutionary solution.”
Holland said the physical systems themselves - called “bio-reactors” – use little energy, are transportable, scalable, simple to set-up, simple to operate, come on-line in record time and can be monitored remotely.
The United States Army purchased the first six systems. The first two units, housed in standard 20-foot ISO shipping containers, are being deployed to Afghanistan to support forward operating bases with up to five hundred personnel.
Each unit can process about 25,000 gallons of wastewater per day.
“The technology was developed for remote applications where little infrastructure exists, such as remote military operations, disaster relief and nation-building situations.”
“We have gone from basic research into the bacteria to actual construction and deployment of the systems in seven years. The typical time from discovery to commercialization is 14 years,” Holland said.
“The bacteria, the ‘bugs,’ we are working with occur in nature – you could find them in a common handful of dirt. We have isolated a small subset of them – each bacterium has a specific function -- and we have engineered a biofilm that is self-regulating and highly efficient at cleaning wastewater.”
Holland and his colleagues have tested and demonstrated the systems’ capabilities and effectiveness at several municipal and military sites – to the satisfaction of the Army -- by cleaning influent wastewater within 24 hours to discharge levels that exceed the standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency for municipal wastewater, “ leaving less than ten percent of sludge by volume, in most cases less than one percent.”
“The typical septic system or traditional waste treatment process can take as long as 30 days and leave 40 to 50 percent sludge,” he said.
Part of the recent engineering and component testing were done in partnership with Lamar University and Sul Ross University, Sam Houston State’s sister institutions within the Texas State University System.
“The technology is scalable,” Holland said. “We can make the units as large as required for large scale treatment applications, or as small as a single home unit.”
The research has been funded over the last three years by U.S. Department of Defense. The Army’s systems will be deployed in rugged terrain, transported by the Army’s standard heavy trucks using a standard pallet loading system.
After an extended search for a business partner, Sam Houston State selected a private firm, PCD Inc, of Palestine, Tex., to form a limited liability corporation, Active Water Sciences (AWS), to market, manufacture and sell the systems.
“This technology is an elegant, simple system,” said Davis. “We are at a very exciting point in its commercialization.”
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