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Fix Our
Climate
2023 Finalist

Aquacycl

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

Learn About the Earthshots

Protect
and Restore
Nature

By 2030, we choose to ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing – not shrinking – on our planet. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting areas of high biodiversity such as forests, wetland, peatlands and wildlife corridors
  2. Restoring damaged ecosystems
  3. Feeding people while protecting nature
Learn more about this Earthshot

Clean Our
Air

By 2030 we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air – at World Health Organization standard or better. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Engaging citizens in data collection and clean air policies
  2. Preventing the burning of fields, forests and waste
  3. Transitioning to clean transportation for all
Learn more about this Earthshot

Revive Our
Oceans

By 2030, we choose to repair and preserve our oceans for future generations. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems
  2. Replenishing fish populations
  3. Reducing demand for fishmeal
Learn more about this Earthshot

Build a
Waste-free
World

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
  2. Phasing out single-use and non-recycled plastics
  3. High-value circularity in fashion and electronics
Learn more about this Earthshot

Fix Our
Climate

We choose to fix the world’s climate by cutting out carbon: building a carbon neutral economy that lets every culture, community and country thrive. 

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
Learn more about this Earthshot
The Earthshot Prize