New Sewage Treatment Technology Helps Clean Up Waste Water Efficiently, Effectively
Vancouver-based clean water startup Ostara has built a new sewage treatment technology that reduces water pollution and saves money simultaneously. Founded in 2005 after licensing its technology from the University of British Columbia at Vancouver, Ostara hopes to market its technology to industrial customers, including commodities-grade phosphorus rock processing plants.
Ostara’s sewage treatment technology harvests phosphorus and ammonia from municipal sewage treatment plants and turns it into fertilizer pellets. The process saves cities money by keeping sewage treatment plants humming efficiently, and it will likely reduce polluted runoff from agriculture because the fertilizer is easier for plants to absorb than standard fertilizer applications.
Phosphorus for agricultural fertilizer has typically been harvested from rock, with the greatest remaining reserves in Morocco and Western Sahara, China, and Algeria. The price of phosphorus has tripled since 2006 due to supply shortages. That value has created a key market opportunity for Ostara.
“Waste water is no longer seen as waste,” said Phillip Abrary, president and CEO of Ostara.
The company is offering an important service to municipal treatment plants. State and federal regulations have grown increasingly stringent on the amount of phosphorus that can be in the water a plant returns to nature after processing. That’s because, although phosphorus occurs naturally, when there is too much of it in water – from human or animal waste or from runoff from gardens, lawns, or agricultural – algae – can bloom, sucking oxygen out of the water and killing other aquatic life.
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