The Frontis technology is a clean, profitable and efficient solution to the wastewater treatment challenge. It reduces waste by giving its user an incentives to treat their wastewater. These incentives are recovered energy, nutrients and clean water.
TypeStartup or self-employed
FoundersMichael Siegert & Doris Wulf
Headquarters98743 Oberland am Rennsteig, Germany
Wastewater is an untapped resource of which 380bn m³ are produced worldwide. It contains useful nutrients as well as energy. With rapid global economic and technological development, wastewater production is expected to increase by 51% until 2050. Full nutrient recovery would offset 13% of the agricultural demand in phosphorous and nitrogen. At the same time, processing this wastewater accounts for approximately 3-4% of global energy consumption. As wastewater treatment is complex and expensive, many companies do not treat at all.
The Frontis technology is based on microbial electrolysis and uses wastewater as feedstock for energy production and nutrient recovery. There are more than 100 thousand domestic wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in the EU28. These WWTP treat about 1bn m³ of wastewater every day. We estimate that the global energy commodities that can be recovered from wastewater are worth between EUR >30bn annually.
Our primary target markets are current and prospective owners and operators of medium WWTPs with organic waste production. This waste can be converted in Frontis reactors into methane gas. It can be used on site for heating, electricity production or be sold to utility companies. On site the recovered energy will offset 25% of the operating cost.
Typical WWTP operators with high organic loads are wineries, diary processing plants (in particular cheese makers), breweries and olive mills. For example, the estimated number of wineries in Europe alone is 150,000 producing 18M kg of grapes each year. Europe is the largest winemaker in the world, followed by the US. This is a market opportunity in wastewater treatment for wineries of about EUR 1.5bn in Europe alone and EUR 1bn for the rest of the world. In particular, owners of wineries often do not treat their wastewater due to the cost and the restrictions imposed by municipal WWTP. Giving these wineries an incentive to treat their wastewater, would encourage them to comply with environmental standards, even without the pressure of regulations.
The Frontis Technology was invented 2016 by Dr. Michael Siegert in Calgary where he started to commercialize the technology and protect the IP. It is based on microbial electrolysis of organic and inorganic matter present in wastewater. In its simplest form the electrolysis of wastewater involves oxidation of organic and inorganic compounds on the anode (the positive electrode) to carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen gas (N2). This oxidation is assisted by microbes living on the surface of the anode. At the same time, methane gas is formed on the cathode (the negative electrode). The produced methane is collected and compressed, and can either be injected into the natural gas pipeline system or used on site to generate electric power and/or heat. The Frontis is modular allows to optimize the performance of each reactor and tailor it to the customers' needs.
The technology is based on microbial electrolysis, scalable and modular. It is most efficient at high organic loads such in food processing plants (cheese, wineries, breweries, olive mills, etc). The extracted energy surplus can be used to make the wastewater treatment process more cost effective or sold. Nutrients recovered (phosphate, nitrogen) can be used in agriculture.