Designing a Miniaturized Water Therapy Plant at Eden Tech


This sponsored article is delivered to you by COMSOL.

The 1985 action-adventure TV collection MacGyver showcased the lifetime of Angus MacGyver, a undercover agent who solved issues utilizing objects he had available. For instance, in a single episode, he made a warmth defend out of used fridge components. In one other, he made a fishing lure with a sweet wrapper. Greater than three many years later, the present nonetheless has relevance. The verb MacGyver, to design one thing in a makeshift or artistic method, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015.

Attempt placing your MacGyver abilities to the check: If you happen to had been handed some CDs, what would you make out of them? Reflective wall artwork, mosaic ornaments, or a wind chime, maybe? What a couple of miniaturized water therapy plant?

That is what a staff of engineers and researchers are doing at Eden Tech, an organization based mostly in Paris, France, that focuses on the event of microfluidics know-how. Inside their R&D division, Eden Cleantech, they’re growing a compact, energy-saving water therapy system to assist sort out the rising presence of micropollutants in wastewater. To research the efficiency of their AKVO system (named after the Latin phrase for water, aqua), which is constructed from CDs, Eden Tech turned to multiphysics simulation.

Contaminants of Rising Concern

“There are numerous methods micropollutants make it into wastewater,” says Wei Zhao, a senior chemical engineer and chief product officer at Eden Tech. The rise of those microscopic chemical substances in wastewater worldwide is a results of every day human actions. For example, once we wash our palms with cleaning soap, wipe down our sinks with cleansing provides, or flush drugs out of our our bodies, varied chemical substances are washed down the drain and find yourself in sewage programs. A few of these chemical substances are labeled as micropollutants, or contaminants of rising concern (CECs). Along with home waste, agricultural air pollution and industrial waste are additionally accountable for the rise of micropollutants in our waterways.

Micropollutants are added to the world’s lakes, rivers, and streams every single day. Many standard wastewater therapy vegetation are usually not outfitted to take away these probably hazardous chemical residues from wastewater.

Sadly, many standard wastewater therapy vegetation (WWTP, Determine 1) are usually not designed to take away these contaminants. Subsequently, they’re usually reintroduced to varied our bodies of water, together with rivers, streams, lakes, and even ingesting water. Though the danger they pose to human and environmental well being isn’t absolutely understood, the growing variety of air pollution discovered on the earth’s our bodies of water is of concern.

Determine 1. Most standard water therapy vegetation are usually not in a position to take away micropollutants.

Ivan Bandura/Unsplash

With this rising downside in thoughts, Eden Tech set to work on growing an answer, thus AKVO was born. Every AKVO CD core is designed to have a diameter of 15 cm and a thickness of two mm. One AKVO cartridge consists of stacked CDs of various numbers, mixed to create a miniaturized manufacturing unit. One AKVO core treats 0.5 to 2 m3 water/day, which implies that an AKVO system composed of 10,000 CDs can deal with common municipal wants. This raises the query: How can a tool constructed from CDs decontaminate water?

A Sustainable Wastewater Therapy Technique

A single AKVO system (Determine 2) consists of a customizable cartridge full of stacked CDs that every have a microchannel community inscribed on them. It removes undesirable parts in wastewater, like micropollutants, by circulating the water in its microchannel networks. These networks are power savvy as a result of they solely require a small pump to flow into and clear massive volumes of water. The AKVO system’s cartridges can simply get replaced, with Eden Tech caring for their recycling.

The AKVO device, which consists of a transparent cylinder filled with a stack of CDs.

Determine 2. AKVO with all of its parts labeled.

AKVO’s revolutionary design combines photocatalysis and microfluidics into one compact system. Photocatalysis, a kind of superior oxidation course of (AOP), is a quick and efficient technique to take away micropollutants from wastewater. In comparison with different AOPs, it’s thought of safer and extra sustainable as a result of it’s powered by a lightweight supply. Throughout photocatalysis, gentle is absorbed by photocatalysts which have the power to create electron-hole pairs, which generate free hydroxyl radicals which are in a position to react with goal pollution and degrade them. The mix of photocatalysis and microfluidics for the therapy of wastewater has by no means been accomplished earlier than. “It’s a very formidable challenge,” mentioned Zhao. “We needed to develop an progressive methodology with a view to present an environmentally pleasant, environment friendly technique to deal with wastewater.” AKVO’s present design didn’t come straightforward, as Zhao and his staff confronted a number of design challenges alongside the best way.

Overcoming Design Challenges

When in use, a chemical agent (catalyst) and wastewater are dispersed via AKVO’s microchannel partitions. The aim of the catalyst, titanium dioxide on this case, is to react with the micropollutants and assist take away them within the course of. Nonetheless, AKVO’s quick stream price complicates this motion. “The large downside is that [AKVO] has microchannels with quick stream charges, and generally once we put the chemical agent inside one of many channels’ partitions, the micropollutants within the wastewater can not react effectively with the agent,” mentioned Zhao. In an effort to improve the chance of contact between the micropollutants and the immobilized chemical agent, Zhao and his staff opted to make use of a staggered herringbone micromixer (SHM) design for AKVO’s microchannel networks (Determine 3).

To research the efficiency of the SHM design to help chemical reactions for micropollutant degradation, Zhao used the COMSOL Multiphysics software program.

Simulating Chemical Reactions for Micropollutant Degradation

In his work, Zhao constructed two totally different fashions in COMSOL Multiphysics (Determine 4), named the Specific Floor Adsorption (ESA) mannequin and the Transformed Floor Focus (CSC) mannequin. Each of those fashions account for chemical and fluid phenomena.

In each fashions, Zhao discovered that AKVO’s SHM construction creates vortices within the stream shifting via it, which allows the micropollutants and the chemical agent to have an extended response interval and enhances the mass switch between every fluid layer. Nonetheless, the outcomes of the ESA mannequin displayed that the design purified about 50 % of the micropollutants underneath therapy, fewer than what Zhao anticipated.

In contrast to the ESA mannequin (Determine 5), within the CSC mannequin, it’s assumed that there isn’t a adsorption limitation. Subsequently, so long as a micropollutant arrives on the floor of a catalyst, a response occurs, which has been mentioned in present literature (Ref. 1). On this mannequin, Zhao analyzed how the design carried out for the degradation of six totally different micropollutants, together with gemfibrozil, ciprofloxacin, carbamazepine, clofibric acid, bisphenol A, and acetaminophen (Determine 6). The outcomes of this mannequin had been consistent with what Zhao anticipated, with greater than 95 % of the micropollutants being handled.

“We’re actually glad with the outcomes of COMSOL Multiphysics. My subsequent steps might be targeted on laboratory testing [of the AKVO prototype]. We expect to have our first prototype prepared by the start of 2022,” mentioned Zhao. The prototype will ultimately be examined at hospitals and water therapy stations within the south of France.

Utilizing simulation for this challenge has helped the Eden Tech staff save money and time. Creating a prototype of a microfluidic system, like AKVO, is dear. To imprint microchannel networks on every of AKVO’s CDs, a microchannel photomask is required. Based on Zhao, to manufacture one photomask would price about €3000 (3500 USD). Subsequently, it is extremely vital that they’re assured that their system works nicely previous to its fabrication. “COMSOL Multiphysics has actually helped us validate our fashions and our designs,” mentioned Zhao.

Pioneer within the Therapy of Micropollutants

In 2016, Switzerland launched laws mandating that wastewater therapy vegetation take away micropollutants from wastewater. Their objective? Filter out over 80 % of micropollutants at greater than 100 Swiss WWTPs. Following their lead, many different nations are presently considering of how they need to deal with the rising presence of those contaminants of their waterways. AKVO has the potential to supply a compact, environmentally pleasant method to assist sluggish this ongoing downside.

The following time you go to throw out an outdated CD, or another family merchandise for that matter, ask your self: What would MacGyver do? Or, higher but: What would Eden Tech do? You could be holding the constructing blocks for his or her subsequent progressive design.


  1. C. S. Turchi, D. F. Ollis, “Photocatalytic degradation of natural water contaminants: Mechanisms involving hydroxyl radical assault,” Journal of Catalysis, Vol. 122, p. 178, 1990.

MacGyver is a registered trademark of CBS Studios Inc. COMSOL AB and its subsidiaries and merchandise are usually not affiliated with, endorsed by, sponsored by, or supported by CBS Studios Inc.


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