Pellucid Water uses cold plasma for more efficient wastewater decontamination

Innovations

Top Left: The vial on the left is untreated paper mill effluent, while the vial on the right is the same effluent after it has been treated with Pellucid’s cold plasma process.

Pellucid Water LLC
247 W. Freshwater Way, Suite 330, Milwaukee
Innovation: Cold plasma water filtration
www.pellucidwater.com

What if not just the water, but the sediment removed from wastewater, could be reused instead of being thrown out?

Milwaukee-based Pellucid Water LLC has come up with a way to make that possible. The company has developed a cold plasma technique for separating water from its waste particles, or effluent, which allows the effluent to be recycled.

Pellucid, which is a partnership between Romania-born scientist Dr. Sorin Manolache and Mark Raabe, recently completed The Water Council’s The BREW business accelerator program, and now makes its home in Milwaukee’s Global Water Center. The young company, which was founded in September 2014, was a finalist in both the 2015 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest and the 2015 Wisconsin Innovation Awards.

Top Left: The vial on the left is untreated paper mill effluent, while the vial on the right is the same effluent after it has been treated with Pellucid’s cold plasma process. Top Right: Cheese factory effluent, before (left) and after (right) cold plasma treatment. Bottom Right: The vial on the left is influent to a municipal wastewater treatment plant, and the vial on the right is the same influent after cold plasma treatment. Bottom Left: Dairy farm anaerobic digester effluent, before (left) and after (right) cold plasma treatment.
Top Left: The vial on the left is untreated paper mill effluent, while the vial on the right is the same effluent after it has been treated with Pellucid’s cold plasma process.
Top Right: Cheese factory effluent, before (left) and after (right) cold plasma treatment.
Bottom Left: Dairy farm anaerobic digester effluent, before (left) and after (right) cold plasma treatment.
Bottom Right: The vial on the left is influent to a municipal wastewater treatment plant, and the vial on the right is the same influent after cold plasma treatment.

The cold plasma process developed by Manolache applies an electrical field to a raw water supply or wastewater that creates positively and negatively charged particles and free radicals. Those particles affect targeted chemical and biological reactions and decontaminate the water.

Most water filtration processes involve adding a chemical to the water, making the effluent generally unusable afterward. In advanced oxidation, another process used to decontaminate wastewater, more energy is used and the process can create harmful chemicals that a company then has to dispose of, Manolache said.

But the cold plasma method doesn’t change the chemical makeup of the sediment, so it can be reused. For example, in paper manufacturing, fiber can be extracted from wastewater using cold plasma and recycled back in at the mill at the beginning of the process, Raabe said.

“It creates more opportunities for recovery, recycle, reuse, because it’s not altered,” Raabe said. “It’s actually using a different approach to water treatment that has the capability to be transformative.”

Raabe and Manolache met while Manolache was applying his cold plasma technology at the Center for Plasma Aided Manufacturing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But when the center disbanded in 2013, the pair decided to form a new company that could further Manolache’s work.

“My background in civil engineering related to water made me very interested in the potential application of this type of technology, but it was very difficult to obtain funding,” Raabe said.

The BREW accelerator helped the budding company secure an office space and some seed money.

“One of the most important benefits has been validation,” Raabe said. “One means of validation is to have an organization recognize that this technology has merit – and that is what The BREW did.”

Pellucid also works out of the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory in Madison to study potential applications for plasma technology, which can also be used in the gas phase to modify the chemistry of materials.

At the moment, Pellucid is working to form channel partnerships and identify companies that would be interested in a collaboration using the technology. It is also working to establish a pilot program to conduct field testing on the technology.

The company’s field studies have so far shown that cold plasma is effective in removing both organic and inorganic compounds, including phosphorus, water hardness, iron and other metal ions from water.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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