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2023 Finalist


Using microbial technology, Aquacycl are making the treatment of industrial wastewater more accessible, more efficient, and less polluting.

Treating wastewater from homes and businesses before it reenters rivers and oceans is vital for protecting wildlife habitats and for stopping the spread of waterborne diseases. Yet wastewater treatment is an extremely expensive and energy-intensive process, meaning it contributes significantly to planet-warming emissions, and many in the Global South can simply not afford it.

Aquacycl’s Solution

Aquacycl’s BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology (BETT) makes treating industrial wastewater more affordable, more efficient, and less carbon intensive. Their microbial fuel cells use naturally occurring bacteria to make even the most polluted water safe, while also generating usable electrical current. Independent of electricity grids and sewer systems, Aquacycl’s wastewater treatment units remove pollutants at a rate 10 times higher than conventional treatment technologies.

Compared with conventional systems, Aquacycl reduces the overall greenhouse gas emissions implicated in industrial wastewater treatment by more than half. Because their units generate their own current, they use less electricity. And because the fuel cells are housed and serviced on-site in shipping containers, Aquacycl eliminates the need for fossil fuels associated with haulage. This allows Aquacycl to cut industrial wastewater management costs by more than 30% on average.

Their Impact

Some of the biggest consumer packaged goods companies in the world are already using Aquacycl wastewater management systems. In just one year, the Aquacycl system at a single PepsiCo plant mitigated more than 800 tons of CO2e – the equivalent emissions of over 10 tanker trucks worth of gasoline.

Roughly a third of the world’s population lacks access to safe sanitation. Over the next five years, Aquacycl co-founder Orianna Bretschger hopes to improve the lives of 100 million people through the provision of safe, reliable and accessible wastewater treatment facilities. By dramatically reducing the atmospheric carbon emitted in doing so, Aquacycl promises to have an even greater impact: protecting the climate for everybody.

Other 2023 Fix Our Climate Finalists

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This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

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This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

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Revive Our

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This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems
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By 2030, we choose to build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next – just like they do in nature. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Reducing food loss from farm to fork
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Fix Our

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This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Creating an equitable clean energy future
  2. Addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Decarbonising hard to abate sectors
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