AquaInSilico is developing software tools to optimise wastewater treatment across many different industries, including municipal waste water treatment plants, oil groups, brewers, pulp, paper and steel makers, food processing and waste recovery businesses.

The Company, a spin out from Portugal’s NOVA University, NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT NOVA), has developed sophisticated algorithms, based on deep knowledge of biological and chemical processes, able to understand and predict how they unfold in different operating conditions. These include detecting possible problems with processes, often before they can be diagnosed by humans. AquaInSilico is Frontier IP’s fourth spin out in Portugal.

This will allow companies to tune and adapt their treatment systems more effectively and is expected to save them up to 25 per cent of their operating costs.

It also supports the improved recovery of valuable and recyclable products, such as nutrients, biogas, and volatile fatty acids that can be used in biofertilisers and biofuels. The Company believes this could result in new sustainable technologies in future.

One early application of the technology will be to make the removal and reuse of phosphorus from wastewater plants, which is widely used in fertiliser, more environmentally friendly and effective.

Current phosphorus extraction methods use chemicals that bind to the phosphorus and precipitate it. However, it is difficult and expensive to break the connection between the binder and the phosphorus. AquaInSilico uses a mathematically-modelled biological approach to remove phosphorus, based on controlling the operating variables. As a result, the process reduces the use of chemicals and energy, and produces phosphorus that can be sold.

This reduces the risk of environmental harm from phosphorus leaching into waterways from wastewater sludge. The phosphorus itself can be resold for use in fertilisers, and other industrial applications.  

AquaInSilico was established to develop and commercialise the research of Dr Jorge Santos, Dr Mariana Matos and Professor Maria Ascensão Reis of FCT NOVA.  This team had developed several research projects in environmental and industrial bioengineering in collaboration with several worldwide industry players.