The tiny nation of Luxembourg is home to a company, Epuramat, with a very big idea – they have a technology that promises to revolutionize wastewater treatment. This is a big deal – in the United States, for example, over 60 cubic kilometers per year of wastewater are processed, and less than 5% of this wastewater is reused, mostly for irrigation. By greatly reducing the cost of wastewater treatment, more water can be recycled, not only for irrigation, but even for drinking water.
Epuramat’s ‘ExSep’ (Extreme Separation) unit
replaces primary and most of the secondary
wastewater treatments in one small unit.
Epuramat’s technology replaces the first stage of conventional water treatment, where all sediment, solids and sludge are removed. The technology works so well, it also greatly reduces the cost of secondary treatment, because so much of the sediment is removed in the first stage, the membranes used for second stage filtration require far less maintenance and replacement.
The initial removal of sediment and sludge is the most expensive and space-intensive element of the water treatment process, requiring huge sedimentation basins. These are replaced by what Epuramat calls the “ExSep,” short for “extreme separator.” As their website states, “the ExSep solid/fluid separator is the core of the process and replaces the grit chamber and primary sedimentation basin of conventional plants.”
When I asked Herman Blanke, a Los Angeles based greentech entrepreneur who represents Epuramat in the United States if this was a breakthrough, he didn’t hesitate. “Yes,” Blanke said, “this is a unique technical breakthrough; there isn’t anything like it.”
Trying to understand a bit more about what happens inside the “ExSep” was not very productive. The explanation on their website reads as follows: “The ExSep accelerates the extraction process by taking advantage of the inertia of solid materials in a hydraulic re-directioning process.” When I asked Blanke to elaborate he said that was pretty much all the company has disclosed so far about their proprietary technology.
While the technology may be a secret, Epuramat has been demonstrating their technology extensively. They have a mobile wastewater treatment plant that fits onto a 2×5 meter trailer and “achieves a cleaning capacity of 500-1,000 population equivalents.” This is about 10 cubic meters of treated water per hour – a volume that a plant using conventional treatment methods would require about 50 times as much area to achieve. Epuramat also has already installed their ExSep systems in select industrial and municipal sites in Europe.
Therefore it is not only the potentially dramatic savings in installation and operating costs that make Epuramat’s innovation very interesting, but also the dramatically lower footprint of their system, which replaces the most space intensive elements of conventional treatment plants.
Epuramat clearly has something which when proven and available will be of interest not only to commercial and public entities with water treatment needs, but also for those working at the scale of large buildings. The idea that a water treatment plant can be miniaturized to allow water reuse within a single structure is unprecedented. Epuramat is offering turn-key water treatment solutions that are scalable, where their ExSep primary/secondary treatment is coupled with tertiary treatments to allow complete recycling of wastewater.