By Dr. Maja Berden Zrimec, researcher and content writer
One of the significant barriers in circular bioeconomy is the lack of technologies to enable circularity of materials, elements, and energy. That’s why many materials and chemicals are still polluting the environment or end up as waste, while energy is lost without being utilized.
Clean water is a crucial requirement in agricultural and industrial technological processes. Unfortunately, the quality of drinking water is frequently questionable, either because of insufficient treatment, toxic residuals of chemicals used for water sterilization or compromised pipes overgrown with biofilm. If water is not properly treated, it can become a growth medium for pathogenic microorganisms, which can spread waterborne diseases. Disinfection without harmful consequences is thus a highly desirable technology.
We talked to a Slovenian company, Waboost, about an exciting solution for supplying oxygen, ozone, and other gases to the water. Their innovative technology uses nanobubbles to purify and oxygenize water. They worked on several projects with potential users to test the benefits of their system. Currently, they work with farmers to provide quality and unpolluted water to the farm animals and plant crops. This is important because low-quality water, containing infectious microorganisms, significantly impact animal and plant health, resulting in slower growth and higher demand for nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and antibiotic treatments.
Waboost’s technology enables treating the water without thermal processing or addition of strong chemicals. It is based on an innovative approach of injecting gases into liquids with nanobubbles. Oxygen is used to oxygenize the water, making it healthier for the living beings. Injecting ozone into water has a sterilization effect, rapidly killing infectious microorganisms, like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa, leaving no harmful residuals in the treated water. Ozone treatment subsequently raises the dissolved oxygen concentration in water, eliminating the need for re-aeration. The same technology also reduces water pollutants and heavy metals.
Nanobubbles, ultra-small bubbles with a radius of 100 nm or less, stay in water much longer than the bigger bubbles used by other technologies. The oxygen-filled nanobubbles can persist in the water for several months, providing oxygen when its concentration in water decreases. Gas exchange is higher than with macrobubbles as the interfacial surface area of nanobubbles can be 1000 times larger.
With long lasting nanobubbles, Waboost’s technology makes treatment with ozone and oxygen more cost and energy efficient, as well as easily applicable in various environments, from farms to sports turfs. Water aeration systems can be operated from a mobile phone or tablet, enabling real-time management of the system’s operation. All instruments have a controller and sensors for the significant parameters and system operation indicators, supported by IoT. Their monitoring enables adjustments and optimisation of the process as well as detection of malfunctioning of system parts – all of which can be operated digitally in real-time from your office or home.
Higher production and lower costs in agriculture
In an animal farm, Waboost’s disinfection with nanobubbles can have multiple benefits. You can provide clean drinking water for your animals by efficiently removing the biofilm and preventing its re-appearance in the water pipes. The biofilm overgrowth in water systems (pipes, sinks, etc.) is a source of microorganisms which represent a health hazard for the animals, making them sick and unfit.
The advantages of providing animals with a quality clean water are quickly visible: their health and fitness improve, and they grow more with less food. Additionally, Waboost’s technology enables disinfection of the surfaces, improving overall farm hygiene, creating a healthy environment for the animals. The result is an improved product quality, together with a reduced need for chemicals and medications, which protects people, animals, the environment, and your wallet.
Plants benefit from quality water
Plants’ growth and resilience greatly depend on the quality of the irrigation water. Crop yield and quality are regulated by the healthy soil and bioavailability of nutrients. When water is oxidized with Waboost’s technology, it significantly improves root development, which in turn increases nutrient uptake and crop growth, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
Waboost’s technology can be used to disinfect and oxygenize irrigation water from the reservoirs, be it closed containers or outside ponds. When water is stored for a longer time, microorganisms’ concentration rapidly increases. Infections and toxicants can harm the soil microfauna and have negative effects on plants. Disinfection of water before irrigation is thus crucial for higher crop yields and high-quality products.
What about circular bioeconomy and value chain generation?
Clean and healthy water is one of the most valuable resources in our lives, including agricultural production and industrial technological processes, especially in the food industry. Treating water and water system surfaces with Waboost’s technology enables its reuse and lowers the pressure on the environment. Most importantly, it enables an increase of production and decrease of operation costs.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of Waboost’s technology or how it could help your business, contact us at VCG.ai.
Environmental Protection Agency (1999): Wastewater Technology Fact Sheet – Ozone Disinfection.