Water Treatment

Industrial Phycology raises funds to launch new eco-friendly system

15th November 2019

Industrial Phycology (I-Phyc), which has developed a new eco-friendly wastewater treatment system that could reduce pollution in rivers and seas, has raised €813K to help launch its technology. I-Phyc secured the funding from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund, which is managed by Parkwalk.

I-Phyc's system uses the natural power of algae to remove nutrients from sewage and wastewater. Not only can it reduce pollutants such as phosphorous and nitrogen, but the biomass that is recovered can be used to generate biogas or fertiliser. The system also helps operators to reduce their carbon footprint as the algae captures and retains carbon emissions. Unlike other systems which rely on light being shone on the surface of the algal mixture, I-Phycs uses lighting to penetrate the depth of the mix, which improves its effectiveness and drastically reduces the size of tank required, making it ideal even for smaller treatment plants.

The company was founded in 2012 by CEO Dr Dan Murray, a former academic and algae expert who was awarded grants totaling €4 million to help develop the technology. The firm has already carried out one successful trial with Wessex Water at Avonmouth sewage works, and is currently demonstrating its technology at a plant in Weston-super-Mare. The latest funding will support the building of its team in Birmingham as the firm prepares to make its first commercial sales.

"UK rivers drastically need improvement, with only 14 meeting the minimum 'good' standard," said Russell Bright, the company's chairman. "Although new regulations aim to impose a major reduction in the level of phosphorus in wastewater, many sewage plants cannot achieve this with their existing technology and some smaller ones cannot remove phosphorus at all. I-Phyc's technology offers a chemical-free and natural solution that could help clean up our polluted coasts and rivers."

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014 to 2020 and the European Investment Bank.