Reusing grease from industrial wastewater to make biodiesel. (But that’s not all.)
Environmental tech developers for the industry; that is how they describe themselves. As such, former participant Zhana Solutions focuses on water management. One of the things they successfully developed is a patented electrochemical method to treat industrial wastewater more efficiently than conventional installations.
Besides wastewater treatment, they developed sustainable and circular solutions for grease separation and sustainable disposal of industrial kitchen discharges. Currently they are adapting their patented decontamination method for the creation of potable water.
After participating in ClimateLaunchpad (and making it to the 2019 Global Grand Final) they have been able to land their first customers, are running pilots and are in the midst of raising seed funding.
No chemicals, faster process
“We build grease traps”, says CEO Francisco Vivas. “Conventional grease traps look disgusting and they smell bad. Our G-Trap takes the cooking oils and other food grease out of dishwasher machines in industrial kitchens or other industrial wastewater.”
“Our system is unique, because it is much more efficient in OPEX, treatment speed, size of plant and sludge production.”
Key to their solution is that they don’t add chemicals to the water. “Because then you have don’t just have grease and waste in the water, but also chemicals”, Francisco explains. “What we do is we use an advanced electro chemistry. The geometry of the electrodes is what makes it so advanced. Regular electro chemistry uses square chemicals, leading to a bi-dimensional effect, while we use three techniques to create a three-dimensional effect. That makes our process 5 to 10 times faster. It also allows for smaller plants, significantly reducing costs.”
“Every machine we install will save at least half a ton of CO2.”
“Industry uses 30% of potable water for industrial use,” Francisco explains the market need. “That creates massive amounts of grease and waste in the water, which is hard to get rid of. Especially if you want or need to do it in a sustainable way. Fatbergs obstruct pipes and systems, creating huge problems for cities and businesses. Decontaminating wastewater with G-Trap offers a solution for that headache.”
“Our electrochemical method replaces traditional chemicals and maximizes efficiency and reduces energy consumption. As a result, companies can have savings in OPEX starting at 30% compared to traditional treatment methods. We can reduce between 5 to 10 treatment cycles and minimize the physical space required by other treatment plants. Our solution also reduces the operational burden and costs of sludge generated when contaminants are absorbed and put together with chemicals.”
Every G-Trap plant installed leads to positive climate impact in several ways:
- Reduction of water contamination. Each machine can create 1 million litres of clean water per year
- At least half a ton of CO2 is reduced with every machine.
- The captured grease is reused to create biodiesel.
- Not yet calculated are the CO2 savings of the conventional methods where trucks are used to clean the grease in the pipes.
Big ambitions and big achievements
With their product ready to launch Zhana Solutions ran a successful pilot with Team Foods, a multinational with presence in 7 countries. In Colombia Team Foods is the biggest grease producer.
Through that pilot they were able to connect with other clients and the system is currently up and running in several restaurants and a supermarket chain. Another customer is Crêpes and Waffles with 150 locations in Colombia and the USA.
Francisco: “We have big ambitions. We’re already present in Mexico and Panama besides Colombia. And we want to grow to more countries. Our forecast is to sell 300 G-Trap plants in 2020.”
“Companies can save over 30% in OPEX starting compared to traditional treatment methods.”
“The hardest part of doing a start-up? To create a business just out of knowledge, with very limited financial resources. First thing you need to do is to create traction, then secure funding. After that things do become a bit easier. When you get your first seed capital, the ball starts rolling.”
“Sustainability companies are the future.”
“It was good for us to join ClimateLaunchpad,” Francisco continues. “Very helpful in getting us in contact with many people from triple impact companies. The mentorship was outstanding and the curriculum very focused. I don’t know any other programme that focuses on environmental impact this way, it was definitely a good match for us.”
“Be extremely well organized. Plan first, plan ahead. Once you start, you won’t have time for it later on. Time will be consumed with finding clients, searching for funding opportunities, complying with government regulations and heaps of other stuff.”