China Everbright Water wins Nanjing river project

WASTEWATER treatment firm China Everbright Water Limited said that its consortium formed with Jinan Urban Construction Group has won the bid for the Nanjing Municipal Water Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.

Everbright Water will fully own the project and will be responsible for its investment, operation and maintenance. Jinan Urban Construction will be responsible for construction.

Total investment for the project is about 275 million yuan (S$56 million) with a concession period of 10 years inclusive of a two-year construction period. The project will mainly serve the Chengnan River basin in Pukou District of Nanjing City, China Everbright Water said.

Chairman Wang Tianyi said that the Nanjing project is the firm's first river training project, which will expand the company's business model.

Projects include river water quality improvement, river dredging, river training, river outfall remediation, river widening, transect restoring, riverbank greening and riverside environmental management, the firm said.

China Everbright Water closed trading at S$0.575, down half a cent, before the announcement.

 

Gradiant Enters China's Industrial Water Treatment Market

Gradiant, a technology company specializing in industrial water solutions and innovations, today announced that it is currently developing six brine concentration projects in China, two of which are in final stages of negotiation. The company is working with Shanghai Electric, a Hong Kong and Shanghai listed enterprise and one of China’s largest mechanical and electrical equipment manufacturers, to secure the contracts.

The cooperation with Shanghai Electric follows an investment made by the Chinese manufacturer in Gradiant earlier this year. Prior to the investment, Shanghai Electric engineers fully vetted Gradiant’s award-winning Carrier Gas Extraction (CGE™) process. The company’s CGE technology produces fresh water from high-TDS wastewater with significant cost advantages over traditional brine concentration or zero-liquid discharge (ZLD) technologies.

Gradiant is developing projects in China to treat power plant flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewaters and oilfield produced water with distillate capacities ranging from 500 to 36,000 m3/d [0.13 to 9.5 MGD]. Gradiant has deployed similar projects in the U.S., up to 2,000 m3/d.

“In addition to power equipment, Shanghai Electric has a sizable desalination business as well as a strong understanding of water needs in China’s industrial sectors. They invested in Gradiant after determining the huge market potential of our desalination technologies in the region,” said Anurag Bajpayee, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gradiant.

Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by the company’s founders, Gradiant’s proprietary CGE technology uses air as a carrier gas operating in a closed loop to extract water from high-TDS wastewater. Water is separated from the impurities by using it to humidify the carrier gas stream. Purified water is then recovered from the gas in a subsequent dehumidification process, which employs a unique bubble column heat and mass exchanger.

Gradiant is working with Shanghai Electric on a non-exclusive basis, but maintains a shared goal of meeting China’s growing industrial water needs and will continue to jointly pursue projects in the region. For the immediate future, Gradiant will continue to manufacture CGE systems in the U.S., and as future projects are secured, Gradiant will work with Shanghai Electric and partners to determine if systems could be manufactured in China.

About Gradiant

Gradiant is a technology company specializing in industrial water solutions and innovations. Gradiant addresses industry’s toughest water challenges through custom-engineered solutions and game-changing technologies that reduce the cost, complexity and environmental impact and increase the safety and reliability of water use in industrial operations. Gradiant was founded in 2012 by a team of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is headquartered in Boston, Mass. For more information, visit www.gradiant.com.

View source version on businesswire.com:http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161012005203/en/

China vows better environmental monitoring to improve health

China aims to create a comprehensive environmental monitoring system by 2030 in its efforts to boost citizens' health and raise life expectancy, the government has said.Pollution has been identified as one of the biggest threats to public health in China, with smog in the northern region blamed for higher rates of cancer, respiratory disease and premature death. Widespread soil and water contamination have also caused health hazards.

Air pollution killed more than 1 million people in China in 2012 alone, the World Health Organisation said in a study published in September.

The State Council, or cabinet, said it would set up the "strictest environmental protection system" to oversee construction, noise and atmospheric pollution, soil and water quality and the rural environment.

The new system would identify high-risk pollution zones and establish a unified disclosure platform for environmental information, the cabinet said in its "Healthy China 2030" plan, published late on Tuesday.

It said China aimed to raise average life expectancy to 79 years by 2030, up from 76.3 years in 2015, and would also work to tackle a gender imbalance by setting up a "complete birth monitoring system".

It aims to strengthen public sanitation and provide clean drinking water, among the rural health issues tackled.      

It will also seek to cut infant mortality, traffic deaths, smoking and alcohol abuse, work to improve cancer survival rates, rein in early deaths from chronic diseases and step up intervention for psychological illnesses, it added.

To help reduce health risks, it would also aim to raise the number of active participants in sport to 530 million by 2030, up from 360 million in 2014, besides promoting the "leading role" of Chinese medicine in disease treatment. 

China's Environment Ministry Reshuffles to Better Curb Water, Air, Soil Pollution

Three new departments under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, dedicated to water, air and soil protection, are all set for operation after personnel reported for duty, the ministry announced Monday.

The three departments have been reorganized from two departments on pollution prevention and control, and pollution emission control, both of which have been dissolved.

The reshuffle will help the ministry better monitor and curb pollution in these three areas.

China released an action plan on soil pollution in May, in which the State Council vowed to curb soil pollution by 2020 and improve soil quality by 2030, completing the tasks outlined in action plans on environmental degradation issued by the central government.

China’s tap water could be a major breeding ground for “superbugs”

China’s tap water won’t just give you a bad stomach. It could also be a breeding ground for so-called superbugs.

Not only have large colonies of bacteria been found in the nation’s water pipes, but some otherwise harmless bacteria are becoming drug-resistant, according to a study led by Yu Xin, a scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The tendency of bacteria to become drug-resistant arises from the colonies growing so large that so-called “superbugs”—already-drug-resistant bacteria—can transfer resistance to otherwise largely harmless bacteria. Drug-resistant bacteria are immune to antibiotics, rendering useless the most common cure for many kinds of infections.

The solution, according to Yu, is simple. Adding proper levels of chlorine to the water supply is generally sufficient to kill bacteria and ensure that the transfer of drug resistance can’t take place.

China currently requires that each liter of tap water be treated with just 0.05 mg of chlorine. But the World Health Organization recommends 10 times that level (pdf)—and the US 40 times as much—to combat diarrheal diseases like typhoid, cholera, and hepatitas A. Yu found that boosting levels to just 0.3 mg reduces the spread of drug resistance between bacteria.

Adding more chlorine might largely address the problem, but it can’t fix everything. Residents of old buildings in Hong Kong—which has far stricter guidelines than mainland China—still must boil their waterbefore drinking it. And it might create another problem: Tea aficionados insist chlorine can overpower the subtle flavors of high-quality Chinese tea.

http://qz.com/619014/chinas-tap-water-could-be-a-major-breeding-ground-for-superbugs/

Investment in water projects to top 800b yuan in 2016: NDRC

BEIJING - China will invest over 800 billion yuan ($122.6 billion) in large-scale waterconservancy projects in 2016, the top economic planner said on Wednesday.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement that China'sinvestment in water projects hit all-time high during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) and achieved remarkable results.

China invested more than 2 trillion yuan in water conservation during the period, official datashowed.

The investment benefited hundreds of millions of people through projects related to drinkingwater in the countryside, flood control, drought relief, irrigation and rural hydropower.

Taking water security as a national strategy, the government will keep investing in majorwater projects and encourage private capital to contribute, the NDRC said.

Investment in water projects tops 2 trillion yuan in 5 years

BEIJING -- China invested more than 2 trillion yuan ($300 billion) in water conservation during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), the Ministry of Water Resources said on Friday.

The investment benefitted hundreds of millions of people through projects related to drinkingwater in the countryside, flood control, drought relief, irrigation and rural hydropower, theministry said.

"The coming five years is a critical period for China to quicken reform and development inwater projects and improve water safety. Good planning is key," said Jiao Yong, vice ministerof water resources.

Jiao said the government will keep investing in major water projects and encourage privatecapital to contribute.

China and Israel sign multi-million dollar research deal

Israel and China’s science ministers signed a joint research declaration on Monday, the latest in a string of Sino-Israel accords.

The document, inked in Beijing by Israel’s Ofir Akunis and his Chinese counterpart Wan Gang, resolved that China would invest some $5 million and Israel more than $1 million in joint scientific studies.

Research fields will include the human brain, nano-technology, 3D printing, bio-medicine, renewable energy, computer science, smart cities and aging populations.

China seeks to tap into Israeli technical know-how to help it upgrade from an increasingly high-cost manufacturing nation to a lean and innovative, high-tech producer of advanced products and services.

September saw the signing of a deal to create the Sino-Israeli Robotics Institute, which will form the centerpiece of a new $2 billion industrial park in China’s Guangzhou region.

In May last year, Tel Aviv University announced a partnership with China’s Tsinghua University to invest $300 million for the creation of the XIN Research Center, intended to research early-stage and mature technologies in biotech, solar energy, water and environmental technologies.

Earlier this month, Israel hosted 25 entrepreneurs and executives from 23 Chinese companies, covering industries such as sustainable construction and design, IT and software, healthcare and medical technology, agribusiness, biotechnology, finance and investment, among others.

China to Become Top Region for Cleantech Investors

China is in the middle of a tech boom and cleantech investors are poised to benefit. By 2020, the region will see the largest reduction in emissions and the greatest increase in renewable energy capacity in the world.

China is already a major region for cleantech investors, but it’s poised to become even bigger.Frost & Sullivan’s report “The Clean Tech Market Reaching Its Stride: 2014 to 2020” projects that China will become the world’s leader in cleantech by 2020.

Booming time for China and tech

In past decades, China was seen as lagging behind the United States in terms of technology. While Silicon Valley was developing Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Apple (NASDAQ:APPL), China was still working to connect its massive population to the internet. However, this has changed, as prosperity in China has nurtured progress and innovation in its tech sector.

According to Wired, higher education in China has increased sevenfold since 2000, with 7 million individuals graduating from college this year. This increase in young educated individuals is creating an entrepreneurial culture that bodes well for the challenges of cleantechnology. Venture capitalists invested record breaking $15.5 billion into Chinese startups last year. Although this investment still lags behind the U.S. (which saw $48 billion in venture capital in 2014), it is enough to propel the Chinese tech sector forward.

IFC Invests in BEWG to Boost Water and Wastewater Treatment Businesses in China

The FINANCIAL -- IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will lead a $300 million financing package for the Beijing Enterprises Water Group (“BEWG”) to support the group’s environmental water businesses and promote sustainable economic development in China. 

IFC will provide $28 million from its own account and $21 million from the IFC-Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program, a syndication platform that allows institutional investors to passively participate in IFC’s senior loan portfolio. The remaining $251 million B loan will come from 13 commercial financial institutions. The strong support that this syndicated loan received from the banks is an indication of the confidence in the company and water sector development in China, according to IFC.

“IFC’s support provides the necessary capital for us to pursue our expansion plans, including improving treatment quality in 12 municipalities across nine provinces of China,” said Mr. Li Yongcheng, Vice Chairman of Beijing Enterprises Group Company Limited and Chairman of BEWG. “This partnership will mean significant environmental and health benefits for local populations.” 

China’s economy has experienced rapid growth in the past decade. However, high population density, urbanization, and industrialization have significantly degraded its water resources and led to water shortages.  The country’s water resources per capita are approximately only a third of world average. Out of the country’s more than 600 cities, about 400 are suffering from water shortages. 

“We believe water holds great potential to support China’s continued economic development,” said Hyun-Chan Cho, IFC’s Head of Infrastructure, Asia. “We are committed to work with our clients, who have established implementation track records and operational capacities, to further improve water and wastewater treatment services and inclusive growth in China.”

Recon Technology, Ltd. Signs Agreement with PetroChina's Qinghai Oilfield to Sell Chemicals Used for Wastewater Treatment

BEIJING, Jan. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Recon Technology, Ltd. (NASDAQ:  RCON) ("Recon" or the "Company"), a leading independent oilfield services provider operating primarily in China, announced today that Beijing BHD Petroleum Technology Co., Ltd. ("BHD"), a subsidiary of the Company, has executed an agreement (the "Agreement") with Qinghai Oilfield, a PetroChina Co., Ltd. ("PetroChina") subsidiary, to sell chemical agents (the "Chemicals") to Qinghai Oilfield. The Chemicals, including Ion Modifiers and Water Quality Stabilizers, are designed and tested by BHD and are to be used for wastewater treatment at the Qinghai Oilfield. This Agreement, which is valued at RMB 3.98 million (~$0.6 million), is expected to be completed by the end of FY2016.   

This Agreement follows BHD's recent win of a major bidding contract with PetroChina that qualified BHD as a Class A Furnace Supplier to all of PetroChina's oilfield companies and a RMB 3.2 million (~$0.5 million) contract to supply five furnaces to PetroChina's Huabei Oilfield.

"We continue to grow our presence at PetroChina's oilfield companies," said Mr. Shenping Yin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Today's announcement follows months of efforts by our BHD team and marks another breakthrough for us with PetroChina as we seek opportunities to expand our product and service offerings. The oilfield waste water treatment segment is a brand new market for Recon. Aside from the chemicals, we expect to provide more professional waste water treatment equipment to our oilfield client in the coming year, which we are in the process of developing now. We are optimistic that this consignment sale of third party chemicals has the potential to evolve into a new line of business on a recurring basis for Recon."

About Recon Technology, Ltd.

Recon Technology, Ltd. (NASDAQ:  RCON) ("Recon") is China's first independent oil and gas field service company to be listed on NASDAQ. Working closely with leading global partners, Recon has achieved rapid growth supplying China's largest oil and gas exploration companies, including Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation, with advanced automated technologies, efficient gathering and transportation equipment and reservoir stimulation measures. The solutions Recon provides are aimed at increasing gas and petroleum extraction levels, reducing impurities, improving safety and lowering production costs. For additional information, please visit www.recon.cn.

Cautionary Statements

Statements made in this release with respect to Recon's current plans, estimates, strategies and beliefs and other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements about the future performance of Recon. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those statements using words such as "believe," "expect," "plans," "strategy," "prospects," "forecast," "estimate," "project," "anticipate," "aim," "intend," "seek," "may," "might," "could" or "should," and words of similar meaning in connection with a discussion of future operations, financial performance, events or conditions. From time to time, oral or written forward-looking statements may also be included in other materials released to the public. These statements are based on management's assumptions, judgments and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it. Recon cautions investors that a number of important risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to, product and service demand and acceptance, changes in technology, economic conditions, the impact of competition and pricing, government regulation, and other risks contained in reports filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Therefore investors should not place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ significantly from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. 

All such forward-looking statements, whether written or oral, and whether made by or on behalf of the company, are expressly qualified by the cautionary statements and any other cautionary statements which may accompany the forward-looking statements. In addition, the company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof.

Contact:

Recon Technology, Ltd. 
Jia Liu, Chief Financial Officer
Tel: +86-10-8494-5799
Email: info@recon.cn

Weitian Investor Relations 
Tina Xiao
Tel: +1-917-609-0333
Email: tina.xiao@weitian-ir.com

 

SOURCE Recon Technology, Ltd.

Chemistry: Reuse water pollutants

02 December 2015

Extracting carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater could generate resources and save energy, say Wen-Wei Li, Han-Qing Yu and Bruce E. Rittmann.

Treating domestic and industrial wastewater so that it can be reused for drinking, irrigation and manufacturing is costly. The treatment of used household water from cooking, washing, cleaning and sanitation alone accounts for 3% of global electricity consumption and 5% of global non-carbon dioxide greenhouse-gas emissions (mainly methane). Industrial wastewater is more expensive to clean. Those proportions will rise in the next decade as the world's population grows and stricter water-quality standards are enforced by developing countries123.

 

The costs could be more than recouped if valuable chemicals — including useful forms of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus — were captured from wastewater. Water-treatment plants that harness methane could produce electricity rather than consume it4, for instance. Scaled up, emerging technologies could efficiently and cheaply recover phosphate and ammonium for fertilizer.

What stands in the way of creating 'wastewater-resource factories'? Uncertainty56 — about which techniques are most useful and how to combine them. Here, we outline one possible strategy for domestic water (see 'Wastewater works'), illustrating how treatment plants that now cost millions of dollars a year to run could be retuned to generate more than US$1 million a year for communities. Similar schemes applied to more diverse industrial wastewater would deliver further benefits.

Down the drain

Domestic wastewater contains the detritus of our daily lives — faeces, fat, food scraps, detergents and pharmaceuticals. In chemical terms, 1 cubic metre of domestic wastewater contains 300–600 grams of carbon-rich organic matter (known as carbonaceous chemical oxygen demand, or COD), 40–60 grams of nitrogen (in the form of ammonium and organic compounds), 5–20 grams of phosphorus (in phosphates and organic compounds), 10–20 grams of sulfur (mainly as sulfate) and traces of heavy metal ions.

For the past century, the bulk of domestic wastewater has been treated using the aerobic 'activated-sludge process': it is whisked with air and bacteria to oxidize the pollutants. The process is simple and is effective at removing organic compounds, nitrogen and phosphorus7. But it has a large energy and carbon footprint. A medium-sized plant (one that processes 100,000 cubic metres of water per day) consumes as much electricity as a Chinese town of 5,000 people (around 0.6 kilowatt-hours per cubic metre of wastewater) and emits as much CO2 as 6,000 cars per day.

Source: W.-W.L., H.-Q.Y., B.E.R.

The energy embodied in the wastewater's organic matter is squandered. Also discarded are forms of nitrogen and phosphorus that would be valuable for making fertilizers. Precipitated by adding calcium, iron or aluminum salts, 90% of the phosphorus ends up buried in landfill because the precipitates cannot be taken up by plants and are often contaminated with toxic metals89. Likewise, more than 80% of the nitrogen is lost through conversion to nitrogen gas by microbes. The process also produces a lot of 'wet sludge' (5–10 kilograms per cubic metre of treated water). The drying and disposal (on land or in landfill) or incineration of this accounts for 30–50% of a treatment facility's overall costs.

Some wastewater plants digest the sludge anaerobically. Here, microorganisms in the absence of oxygen break down complex organic matter into simpler organic molecules9, which are then converted into methane. By combusting the methane to produce electricity and heat4, anaerobic digestion can offset 20–30% of the energy and greenhouse-gas costs of the activated-sludge process. But digestion is slow, taking 10–20 days.

Promising systems

Applying anaerobic practices directly to domestic wastewater could reverse those costs entirely and generate an excess of energy, but it is not currently possible at ambient temperatures and with low concentrations of organics9. That could change with two new technologies being trialled — if they can be scaled up4.

The first technology is the anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR). It uses a porous membrane to retain and concentrate solids (including particulate organic matter and the slow-growing microbes that produce methane gas) and more than 90% of the dissolved organic matter in wastewater4. By prolonging the materials' degradation time, it allows 25–100% more methane to be produced per cubic metre of treated water. More than 90% of the dissolved methane (at concentrations of 10–20 milligrams per litre) can be extracted with gas or vacuum techniques, using relatively little energy (less than 0.05 kilowatt-hours per cubic metre; kWh m−3).

Several pilot AnMBRs have been successfully used for domestic wastewater treatment; a facility that can process 12 cubic metres per day at the Bucheon wastewater-treatment plant in South Korea has run for more than 2 years. The biggest challenge in scaling up this technology is preventing the membrane from becoming clogged, or 'fouled'. Using gas bubbles or fluidized granular activated carbon to scour the membrane surface clean requires a further 0.2–0.6 kWh m−3 of energy, comparable to that used in the activated-sludge process.

“Nitrogen recovery from wastewater in particular would have a global impact.”

A second option involves microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) that either generate electrical power directly, in the mode of microbial fuel cells, or produce energy-rich chemicals such as hydrogen gas in microbial electrolysis cells10. MXCs take advantage of the ability of some bacteria that — as they metabolize organic matter — transfer electrons through their cell membranes to receptors outside. If passed to the anode of a fuel cell, the electrons can deliver a current.

The products of MXCs — electricity or hydrogen gas — are more valuable and readily used than methane. But the reactions involved are slow (taking several days), notably the initial break-up of particulates, which account for half of the organic matter (COD) in domestic wastewater. A promising possibility is integrating MXCs with an AnMBR to speed up the conversion of organic matter while producing methane and electricity or hydrogen10.

But current MXCs perform poorly on large scales. Enlarging or stacking multiple cells increases their resistance and lowers the efficiency at which energy may be recovered. Several pilot, cubic-metre-scale facilities for domestic wastewater treatment have been reported, including: one using 120-litre microbial-electrolysis-cell cassettes, installed in Howdon, UK, that recovers less than half of the electrical energy input as hydrogen gas; and a 250-litre microbial-fuel-cell unit installed in Harbin, China, that converts only 7% of the embodied energy in organic substances to electricity.

Nutrient recovery

What of nitrogen and phosphorus? Anaerobic treatment releases them into the effluent as ammonium and phosphate ions. The effluent can be used to irrigate nearby fields. But more valuable are nitrogen and phosphorus in forms that can be stored and transported. One option is recovering both as struvite, a slow-release fertilizer that is precipitated by adding magnesium and lime. This is commercially viable at the high phosphate and ammonium concentrations (hundreds of milligrams per litre) found in sludge or livestock wastewater, but it is ineffective for domestic wastewater8.

Two emerging technologies — ion exchange and electrodialysis — capture and concentrate phosphorus and nitrogen enough to be recovered from effluent as struvite8. In the first, phosphate ions are swapped with anions (such as carbonate) or ammonium ions swapped with cations (such as sodium ions) and adsorbed by materials such as iron-based hydroxides, zeolites and polymers. In the second, an electric field and membrane separate phosphorus and nitrogen ions from others on the basis of charge and size.

Both technologies are still being debugged on small scales. Problems include incomplete recovery of ions from the exchanger; the exchanger or membrane becoming blocked by organic matter; salts contaminating the concentrate; and cost. For example, membranes currently cost hundreds of dollars per square metre. And electrodialytic extraction (at a recovery rate of 90%) of phosphorus and nitrogen consumes roughly 0.23 kWh m−3 and 0.14 kWh m−3, respectively — around two-thirds of the energy consumed in the activated-sludge process8. Use of MXCs may partly offset that energy input by generating electricity, but microorganisms and biomolecules aggravate membrane fouling10.

Nitrogen recovery from wastewater in particular would have a global impact. In the lab, extraction of nitrogen has received less attention than has phosphorus extraction, because atmospheric nitrogen gas can be easily reduced to synthesize nitrogen fertilizer. But the process involved — the nitrogen-fixing Haber–Bosch process — is energy intensive: it accounts for a few per cent of the world's annual energy use. Substituting just 5% of the existing nitrogen-fertilizer production would save more than 50 terawatt-hours of energy, or 1.5% of China's annual electricity consumption.

Biosolids — biomass from microbial growth and undigested faeces, fibres and other solids from the wastewater — are other by-products of anaerobic digestion that contain nitrogen and phosphorus. If they are stabilized (to avoid generating methane gas or odours) and detoxified (no pathogens or hazardous chemicals) during anaerobic treatment, they can be applied directly to the soil5. The United States spreads 55% of its treated biosolids onto the land, but this practice is under public and regulatory pressure because the waste is difficult to stabilize and detoxify completely, and heavy metals accumulate.

Heat treatment makes biosolids easier and safer to use. It kills pathogens, improves nutrient retention and lessens heavy-metal release. Heat from combusted methane can be used to lower energy needs4, but the safety of biosolid products still needs to be improved and evaluated at larger scales.

The final product — water — has huge economic value: the global average price for potable water is $2 per cubic metre. Each type of use requires water of a different quality — from the cleanest for drinking to lower-quality water for cooling or industry uses. The treatment technology needed varies accordingly. In China, only 15% of treated water is reused and up to 98% of potable water goes to municipal and industrial sectors that could make do with lower-quality water. A 'fit-for-purpose' treatment and reuse strategy is needed.

Economic benefits

We estimate that a domestic wastewater-resource factory serving a city of about half a million people in China would treat around 100,000 cubic metres of domestic wastewater per day. We calculate that each day it could produce around 17,000 kWh of electrical energy, recover 1 tonne of phosphorus and 5 tonnes of nitrogen, and reclaim 1,000 cubic metres of potable water. By contrast, an activated-sludge plant (with anaerobic digestion) of the same size would consume 50,000 kWh of electrical energy and recover no phosphorus or nitrogen. A resource factory would thus save 67,000 kWh per day (and that is without considering the energy saved in fertilizer production). This is equivalent to 1.5% of the city's daily electricity consumption.

We estimate that such a factory could yield a profit of $1.8 million per year (excluding construction costs), compared with a cost of $4.6 million per year for an activated-sludge-treatment plant (see'Pollutants to profits'). That assumes the sale of only the 1% of water made drinkable; profits could be ten times higher if non-potable water were sold.

Source: W.-W.L., H.-Q.Y., B.E.R.

The economic boon could be higher still for industrial wastewaters in the agricultural, food and petrochemical sectors1. For example, AnMBRs can remove up to 98% of the organic matter (around 18 kilograms per cubic metre) from petrochemical effluent, producing 100 times more methane than is achievable with domestic wastewater. Livestock wastewater is rich in organic molecules and phosphorus, making it an important potential source of energy and fertilizer8.

Government support will be crucial to developing wastewater-resource factories and promoting a sustainable water-resource market. For the next decade, extracting resources from wastewater will remain expensive relative to fossil-fuel energy and current processing methods. Why? Because environmental costs are not yet factored into pricing and emerging recovery technologies have not yet benefited from economies of scale. Priorities will change as energy, resource and global-warming stresses intensify.

What next? Governments must establish regulatory frameworks that include the costs of waste disposal and greenhouse-gas emissions. They must invest in demonstrations at scale of the pre-commercial or early-adopter technologies; initially subsidize the sales of recovered products; and promote the benefits of the recycled-resource concept.

Governments and enterprises in the sector should provide targeted research funds as well as land and infrastructure. To ensure that the products are suitable, technological development must involve input from regulators, managers of wastewater facilities, engineers, researchers and the public.

National initiatives are needed that suit local environmental, economic and social conditions. Industrialized countries should integrate the emerging processes when they replace ageing treatment facilities. And emerging economies such as China and India should incorporate them as they expand their water-treatment capacities.

Swedish waste water treatment firm sold to China

KFI Kapital announced on 18 December 2015 that it has sold waste water treatment company Purac to SDIC & Beijing Drainage Investment Fund, a fund majority-owned by the Beijing Drainage Group. Before the transaction, KFI Kapital owned 92,2 per cent of the shares in Purac AB through a holding company.

Purac was founded in 1956 in Lund and has been majority owned by KFI Kapital through the holding company Läckeby Water Group since 2008. Under the ownership of KFI Kapital, Purac has developed into a leading contractor within water and wastewater treatment and biogas production in Scandinavia and China. The company is expected to generate sales of approximately 730 MSEK in 2015, with 143 employees in four countries. Purac is managed from its head office in Lund, and is primarily active on its home markets in Sweden, Norway and China.

“Purac is a leading player on a growing market and there has been a great interest for the company. With Beijing Drainage Group as owner, Purac will be perfectly equipped to continue its successful expansion, especially in China” says Stefan Lambert, CEO of KFI Kapital.

“Beijing Drainage Group shares our vision of Purac’s future development and we look forward to refining the company together with them. Through the transaction, Purac will have a strong long term owner,” according to Jonas Fack, CEO of Purac.

“We have worked with Purac since the early 1990’s on the Chinese market and the acquisition will enable our cooperation to reach a new level. We look forward to taking over the responsibility for Purac and to continue developing the company together with its management. We see great potential in continued growth both in Scandinavia and in China,” says Fu Xiao, CEO of SDIC & Beijing Drainage Investment Fund.

KFI Kapital is an investment company focusing on small, profitable companies with a Swedish base. KFI Kapital is owned by KF Invest, a fully owned subsidiary of KF.

SDIC & Beijing Drainage Investment Fund (SDIC), is a fund mainly sponsored by a majority-owned subsidiary of Beijing Drainage Group (BDG). SDIC owns and develops businesses focused on water and wastewater treatment in China. SDIC has available investment funds of 10 GRMB. BDG is a state-owned Chinese company that owns and operates 95% of all reclaimed water, wastewater and sludge reuse utilities in Beijing.

Liaoyang City, China to Build Four New MBR Wastewater Treatment Plants

Chinese water and environment engineering group CITIC Envirotech (CEL) has won a public-private partnership (PPP) to develop four wastewater treatment plants in Liaoyang City, China.

Worth RMB549 million (US$86 million), CEL will deliver a total capacity of 285,000 m3/day and associated pipework, as well as operating and maintaining the four plants for a period of between 15-20 years.

The company has a track record using Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology.

In 2010 CEL completed the Jingxi, Guangzhou MBR project with a capacity of 100,000 m3/day. This lead to the follow up 200,000 m3/day MBR plant being constructed in Fuzhou, China.

After the Chinese government published two new PPP guidelines last year, various PPP projects worth RMB 1.97 trillion in water conservation, transport and environmental protection were launched.

The capital required for the Liaoyang PPP project will be funded by the company’s internal resources and bank financing.

This Silicon Valley startup is headed to China to make its batteries

A little known startup is trying to make batteries that last a lot longer. If it succeeds, it would be a big breakthrough.

Leave it to Tesla to make something geeky like lithium-ion batteries produced with bits of silicon seem cool. But that new secret sauce, revealed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk last week, belies an important point.

For over a year, a little known startup, Amprius, has been selling its own version for cell phones, tablets and drones. Backed by Silicon Valley investors, like Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, the company is hoping to perfect an innovative idea that could make batteries last significantly longer.

Researchers and battery giants have spent decades working on adding silicon to lithium-ion batteries to increase the energy they can store. Eventually, most people in the industry think it will become standard.

But making the silicon work is a difficult challenge because it swells and can crack the battery. Despite all the attention, manufacturers have been slow to bring these batteries to market.
If Amprius can figure out how to mass produce its batteries at a lower cost, it could be an important break through. Not only could the company make cell phones and gadgets function longer on a single charge, but it might also one day be able to expand into the electric vehicle market and increase car driving ranges.


But Amprius won’t be building a U.S. factory to churn out its batteries, at least not initially. In an interview with Fortune, Amprius CEO Kang Sun says that late last year the company partnered with the Chinese city, Wuxi, on a joint venture that includes a plan to build a large factory in the city. Wuxi’s development group invested $40 million into the company, Sun says, and the city will also fund Amprius’ planned battery production line that is expected to be completed next year.

Amprius isn’t the first battery startup, or energy startup for that matter, to head to China. The country is both bullish on electric cars and eager to spend money developing domestic industries. And with a lack of funding recently for energy

startups from both Silicon Valley venture capitalists and the U.S. government, it certainly won’t be the last to head to Asia.

To understand what Amprius is trying to do, let’s look at the building blocks of a battery. A battery is made up of two electrodes—a positive cathode and a negative anode—and a medium through which the electric charge flows. Lithium ions move back and forth between the two electrodes when a lithium-ion battery charges and discharges.

The standard lithium-ion battery that is used in your cell phone and laptop commonly uses graphite for the negative electrode, and a lithium oxide combination for the positive electrode. The negative electrode essentially acts as a host to the lithium ions when the battery charges. Many battery companies plan to add small amounts of silicon to the negative anode graphite mixture, on the order of 1% to 5%. Tesla’s Musk said that the company (presumably through Panasonic) is still using mostly graphite but over time would increase the amount of silicon.

Silicon helps batteries store more energy because its chemical structure can hold more lithium atoms during charging. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Scientist Gao Liu, who leads a team that has developed silicon battery materials, explained the issue to me with a metaphor involving a bag. Say the battery’s negative electrode is a bag that holds the lithium, or the energy source, when the battery charges. Silicon provides a much bigger bag than graphite does, and it can hold much more lithium and thus more energy.

But one of the major problems with silicon is that it swells, and can shatter the negative anode during charging. It’s like if a bag is filled with sand and each grain of sand quadruples in size during charging, causing the bag to split open. Scientists like Liu are creating binding materials that can hold the silicon particles together even as they expand.

One of Amprius’ core innovations is to use nanotechnology to create a silicon structure that can be blended with graphite. The design, which is less than 10% silicon, according to Sun, doubles the amount of energy the negative electrode can hold.
The company first started selling this technology to Asian smart phone makers in late 2013, making it one of the first times silicon was used commercially, albeit in small volumes, in a lithium-ion battery’s negative electrode. Tesla’s news appears to be the first time it’s being used more widely for an electric vehicle.

Amprius has been selling its battery tech to makers of consumer drones, gadgets, military applications, and to NASA. Customers for whom longer charges are important have been

willing to pay higher prices for the batteries. For example a high end drone maker would be willing to pay extra for batteries that let people fly their drones 25% longer.
Amprius also has been developing a more advanced negative electrode made from silicon nanowires, which are tiny tubes of silicon. The structure of those micro wires make them more resistant to the swelling effect during charging and discharging.

That technology, in theory, could rely on silicon for most, or even all, of the negative electrode, and could have six times the energy density (the amount of energy that can be stored for its size). While Amprius has yet to commercialize this idea, Sun says the company will produce a test run of it later this year.

Sun says that Amprius’ current batteries using the blend of silicon and graphite composite already deliver an energy density of 700 watt hours per liter and, with more tweaks, will soon produce 750 watt hours per liter. The nanowire tech is showing an energy density of 940 watt

hours per liter in the lab, he says. A standard lithium-ion battery has closer to 300 to 400 watt hours per liter.
 

For years, Amprius had other companies make its batteries. But soon the company will make its own through its China joint venture.


Sun says through this higher volume manufacturing, Amprius will be able to reduce the cost of its batteries so that they’re more competitive with standard lithium-ion batteries. Pilot production in Wuxi will start in November and then ramp up in 2016, he says.

In a sign of what may come next, Sun says the company is in discussions with another investor that could help the company eventually get into using its battery tech for electric vehicles. But battery factories typically take much longer and cost more money than companies expect.

If Amprius’ plan to make its batteries in China sounds simple enough, it’s anything but. Sun explains that the company has been split into three. One arm called Nanjing Amprius is making the battery materials. Then there’s Amprius Wuxi, which will make the batteries. And finally Amprius Technology Inc. will continue researching and developing the company’s silicon nanowire technology.

Funding for new batteries from young startups like Amprius has dried up in the U.S. Venture capitalists have shied away after big investments years ago in cleantech startups failed to live up to the early hype. And the U.S. government mostly will only provide small grants for basic research and development these days.

For example, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory probably won’t commercialize Liu’s innovation through a startup nor raise funding to build a factory. Instead the team is planning to get the technology out by licensing it to large battery makers.

A number of other startups are working on using silicon for lithium ion batteries, too, and it’s unclear how these technologies will be commercialized or which one will have the biggest impact. Among them are Nexeon, SiNode Systems, and Sila Nanotechnologies plus many big companies like Hitachi, Samsung, and Panasonic.

Stanford professor Yi Cui came up with the original technology for Amprius, which has since been tweaked and refined. In addition to Google’s Schmidt, the company has received funding from Silicon Valley heavyweight Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital firm behind early Internet giants like Amazon and AOL. The company also claims former Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate, on its board.

But if a battery startup wants to find enough money to build a factory, odds are it’s going to end up in China, or somewhere else in Asia. For example, battery startup Boston Power, founded in 2005 in Massachusetts, headed to China years ago to raise money and build batteries.

Chinese investors are also grabbing up U.S. battery technology. Auto parts maker Wanxiang bought up both U.S. battery maker A123 Systems, and U.S. electric car maker Fisker Automotive out of bankruptcy.
 

China is the world’s biggest market for automobiles. But partly because of its major air pollution problem, the country is trying to pushing electric cars, electric scooters and electric buses in some regions.

Cities like Wuxi are encouraging the shift by providing low cost financing for the technology’s development. Energy tech startups LanzaTech and EcoMotors are also following this strategy of partnering with a Chinese company to fund a factory.

Amprius’ future is still far from certain. But that Chinese investors, because of their willingness to fund cleantech cleantech manufacturing, could mean that China could emerge as a major leader of battery technology.

In the U.S., Tesla’s massive battery factory, under construction outside of Reno, will be the most important move for U.S. battery manufacturing in years. Amprius’ Sun is bullish on Tesla’s use of silicon in batteries. He says it’s “very good news” and “an endorsement” of the technology’s bright future.

by Katie Fehrenbacher JULY 27, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT