EOS a pioneer in safe, environmentally sound treatment of wastewater plants
Already at work at the Atria-Woodbriar assisted living facility in Falmouth
By Peter Gwynne for cctoday
A small Cape technology firm is playing a key role in the 21st century green revolution. In the process, it’s generating plenty of green for itself. Environmental Operating Solutions (EOS), a privately held firm founded in 2003, has emerged as a pioneer in safe, environmentally sound treatment of wastewater plants. Its products reduce nitrogen in wastewater by converting it to water and harmless gases. They do so more safely and a lower cost than the traditional substance used for the purpose.
EOS President to address Cape Technology Council tomorrow
"Saving the plant and making money"
The products have given the Bourne-based an increasingly important profile in wastewater treatment. In September 2005, the Mattabasssett Water Pollution Control Facility in Cromwell, Connecticut (on right with an inset of EOS President Eric Stoermer) became the first municipal customer to use EOS’s products.
At Friday meeting tof the Cape Cod Technology Council, EOS President Eric Stoermer will speak about on "Saving the planet and making money" and how a local
CEO and his company use technology to address a
huge regional issue and after 5 years, with the recent infusion of capital, is poised for growth mode.
Since then, several other municipalities and industrial clients, such as sewage treatment plants and slaughterhouses, have become clients of the firm. The technology works on the small scale as well. For example it removes nitrogen from water discharged by the Atria-Woodbriar assisted living facility in Falmouth.
The financial world notices EOS
The financial world has also noticed EOS. In March, the company announced that it had obtained $2.5 million in venture capital funds from Stuart Mill Venture Partners of Northern Virginia. “That will allow us to offer our products nationally; at present we sell in 25 states,” says Eric Stoermer, EOS’s president and CEO. The company will also use the funds to improve its products, to hire more people, and to line up new centers to manufacture EOS’s products beyond the two it now uses in Boston and Baltimore, Stoermer adds.
The problem that EOS’s technology addresses isn’t new. If you’ve seen a green or yellow algal bloom on a pond, you’ve seen the result of oxygen depletion in water caused by excess nitrogen. Two factors have brought the issue into greater prominence. The amount of nitrogen in wastewater is increasing, particularly in highly populated areas. And the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory authorities have started to insist on more – and more effective – nitrogen removal. “It’s becoming a problem in coastal areas, such as bays and estuaries,” Stoermer says. “It’s a national and an international problem, particularly in the East coast of the United States, Japan, and Europe.” It’s also an issue on Cape Cod. Wastewater that leaches out of septic systems can cause particular damage to the environment.
How they do it
“We’ve created a product that has the optimal characteristics in termsof freezing point, pumpability, shelf life, and safety.” - Eric StoermerRemoving nitrogen from wastewater requires the element carbon. Until recently, methanol – a close chemical relative of ethanol, which provides the physical buzz of alcoholic beverages and the political buzz of a growing source of energy – was the most commonly used source of that carbon. But methanol has several disadvantages. Its cost has soared from 35 cents per gallon in 2002 to about $2.50 today. Its manufacture involves a great deal of non-renewable energy, in the form of natural gas. It is poisonous. And it is flammable; a methanol explosion at a wastewater treatment plant in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2006 killed two workers.
EOS’s first product, called MicroC, is a carbohydrate derived mainly from renewable agricultural products. Patented technology developed by the company has overcome typical problems of carbohydrates such as their high viscosity and their tendency to degrade over time. “We’ve created a product that has the optimal characteristics in terms of freezing point, pumpability, shelf life, and safety,” Stoermer says. Formal studies have shown that the chemical removes nitrogen from wastewater as effectively as methanol.
One issue remains: Because it contains 5-1/2 percent of methanol, MicroC is not entirely green in an environmental sense. In response to customers’ requests, EOS developed MicroC G (for green), consisting entirely of renewable components. The company started field tests of MicroC G in December 2005. Now, Stoermer says, “We’ve integrated most of our product sales to it.”
The new product has one disadvantage. Because it freezes at a higher temperature than MicroC, it is not recommended for use in cold regions or areas in which it will be stored outdoors. For that reason, EOS still sells MicroC.
Meanwhile, Stoermer says, “We’re always looking at new products and improvements to existing products.” One line of inquiry: using byproducts such as biodiesel, brewery, and dairy wastes as the bases of new products. “That,” Stoermer declares, “would be the next step in making us a green company.”