26 Mar 2012

Waste Water to Energy: The Natural Solution


Dr. Larisa Kiseleva, a researcher in the Biological Systems Unit (white lab coat), explains microbial fuel cell technology to visitors.

To advance one of OIST’s key missions, which is to contribute to the sustainable development of Okinawa, Head of the Biological Systems Unit Professor Igor Goryanin gave a presentation on March 5th about an environmentally friendly solution to waste water treatment to 30 invited guests from various Okinawan industries. Using natural microbial processes combined with robust energy collecting materials, a bio-electrochemical reaction is used to consume waste organics and directly produce electricity. Key Okinawan industries such as Awamori distilleries, pig and chicken farms, sugar manufacturers and municipal wastewater treatment facilities would benefit economically and environmentally from this innovative approach.

“I heard that the technology used by Dr. Goryanin has been commercially proven to produce energy with whisky producers in England and vodka producers in Russia,” said Production Department Manager Hiroaki Oshiro from Mizuho Distiller. “I was encouraged to see something in common with our Awamori plant. It is fascinating to imagine that the waste from making Awamori can be used to produce electricity, reducing both electricity costs and CO2 emissions.”

Subtropical Okinawa is strategically located, so the technology, which uses local natural microorganisms, could be applied throughout the Asia Pacific region where temperature and environmental conditions are similar.

OIST is now seeking collaborative local business partners to introduce this innovate technology for waste water treatment in Okinawa and the surrounding region.

At the close of the seminar, Masakuni Tamaki, President of Genka Kushibaru Farm remarked, “I hope that OIST's research results will be utilized in Okinawa and Japan as a whole and that the institute plays an essential role in bridging this technology to various industries.”