Israel’s Emefcy opens sewage treatment plant in Virgin Islands

“We’re trying to find technological ways to minimize this power consumption.”

January 11, 2017 00:55
2 minute read.
THIS NEW wastewater treatment plant was recently installed in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands by

THIS NEW wastewater treatment plant was recently installed in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands by Emefcy.. (photo credit: EMEFCY)

The wastewater of some 200 households in the Eastern Caribbean is now flowing to an innovative, energy-efficient sewage treatment plant designed by Israelis.

Just two months ago, the Caesarea-based Emefcy Group Limited completed the installation of a localized municipal wastewater treatment plant in the Bordeaux region of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – an area threatened by water shortages that is dependent on aging equipment that failed to meet regulatory and industry standards.

While relatively small in size, the new plant aims to provide an energy-efficient solution to the island’s wastewater needs, and serves as a gateway to the larger Caribbean sewage sector, according to Emefcy CEO Eytan Levy.

“[Wastewater treatment] is a massive energy consumer,” Levy told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview. “We’re trying to find technological ways to minimize this power consumption.”

Emefcy’s Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR), installed at the St. Thomas plant, consumes just 10% of the power of traditional biological treatment facilities, Levy explained. At such typical plants, wastewater is collected in large basins and aerated with compressors. These compressors require so much energy that they account for about 2% of global power consumption, he explained.

The MABR technology, on the other hand, employs special water-tight membranes that enable the diffusion of oxygen from the atmosphere into the wastewater, without the need to use a high-energy compressor, Levy continued.

Because MABR is low in energy, easy to operate and modular, the system is ideal for use at small sewage treatment plants, he added.

While the MABR is already on the market, Emefcy is also developing an Electrogenic Bio Reactor (EBR), which will not only be capable of saving energy, but will actually produce power, according to the company.

Emefcy has already installed its technology in Caesarea and in Moshav Yogev, but St. Thomas is the first site outside Israel where the MABR system is up and running. In addition, a plant is under construction at Makelle University’s Ayder Hospital in Ethiopia.

The Caribbean region has become a particularly important niche area of focus for Emefcy due to the fact that many of the islands lack central power plants and rely on small, very costly generators for electricity, Levy explained.

“As a result, electricity in all those islands is extremely expensive,” he said. “They consider energy saving as one of the major objectives.”

Often lacking infrastructural operators, many communities in the Caribbean region resort to simply discharging their wastewater into the ocean, Levy added.

In St. Thomas, the Emefcy plant is replacing a much older facility that has now been shut down and operates under the supervision of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s also an important gateway to the US market,” Levy said.

In addition to focusing on the Caribbean region, the company is in active discussions with several potential customers in California, a state that sorely needs water reuse solutions, Levy said.

Emefcy is also demonstrating its technologies in China, he added.

“It’s a completely different approach of looking at wastewater treatment,” he said. “Our technology is the most energy efficient by far.”

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