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PARC Awarded California Energy Commission Grant to Treat Wastewater in California
PARC’s Breakthrough Hydrodynamic Separation Provides Innovative System; Separates Particles From Water

17 October 2012

Palo Alto, CA – PARC, a Xerox company, today announced it has been chosen by the California Energy Commission to receive a $1 million grant to demonstrate a new technology for wastewater treatment in California. Hydrodynamic Separation (HDS), PARC’s breakthrough clean water platform technology, separates particles from water without using physical filters. HDS is particularly suited to recovering valuable material from liquids, and is a modular, scalable technology that can address both large treatment facilities and portable applications.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to help plants become energy neutral, which is attractive to the state of California and states across the US,” said Stephen Hoover, CEO, PARC. “To be able to process millions of gallons of wastewater and provide two types of output – electricity and clean water – which can be repeated across many counties, states, and countries is quite a remarkable project. PARC is thrilled to work with the California Energy Commission to develop new opportunities in the critical fields of energy discovery and clean water innovation.”

Using HDS, PARC scientists will treat wastewater by separating “suspended solids” (i.e. matter with high organic content) from water into two distinct—and critical—resources, in a process called primary treatment. The recovered solids will be processed through an anaerobic digester to produce methane to generate electricity. The remaining, cleaner water, devoid of much of the organic solids, will be further processed in a secondary biological process. Because of the greatly reduced organic content, the demand for oxygen and thus aeration energy in the secondary process is significantly reduced, resulting in further energy savings for the facility. Because wastewater treatment facilities are enormous consumers of energy, the goal of this project is to help enable plants to become energy neutral.

“The California Energy Commission applauds PARC’s innovative wastewater treatment technology,” said Dr. Robert B. Weisenmiller, California Energy Commission Chair. “This project will help the State of California reach its Renewable Portfolio Standard, while preserving California’s precious water resource.”

The California Energy Commission approved the grant in May 2012. PARC plans to work with the municipal wastewater treatment facility in Sunnyvale, CA to demonstrate the HDS pilot system.

Another part of the project is to better deal with wastewater during storms. Water treatment facilities already struggle to handle the amount of wastewater that exists during dry months. During storm seasons, the amount of water increases substantially, as a result of infiltration and inundation, and can overwhelm the capacity by 4-5 times, which can result in a discharge of untreated wastewater to waterways.

“PARC’s goal is to provide a back-up capability that can scale to millions of gallons per day, giving counties, states, and countries a way to treat the excess load during high storm months,” said Scott Elrod, Vice President and Director of the Cleantech Innovation Program, PARC. “We’re excited that this project will allow us to create new energy resources for wastewater treatment facilities, and provide new ways to clean water.”

PARC is partnering with CDM Smith, a consulting company, which provides integrated solutions in water, environment, transportation, energy, and facilities to public and private clients worldwide. CDM Smith will support PARC and this project by providing technical expertise in the field of wastewater and storm water treatment design, and engineering review during the field pilot scale implementation.

About PARC’s Hydrodynamic Separation (HDS)
Given the increased demand for clean water around the world, countries, communities, and corporations are working hard to find ways to recover, recycle, and reuse water. Regulations for disposing of contaminated waters are becoming tighter, driving the cost and complexity of treatment higher. In some industries, recovery of precious resources—like algae in bio fuels, biomass, metals, or crude oil—or removal of specific compounds (scalents, heavy metals, etc.) is needed. PARC’s HDS provides multiple benefits, including:

  • compact form factor: ideal for space and weight constraints
  • scalable: easily increase or decrease volume capacity
  • low energy operation: low pressure use (e.g., gravity fed)
  • low operating and maintenance costs: contains no moving parts or physical filters
  • reduced capital expenditures: reductions in real estate needs due to small footprint
  • neutrally buoyant material separation: excellent for suspended particles or biological materials

PARC’s HDS can be used for a myriad of applications, including wastewater treatment, algae dewatering, process water, cooling tower, bilge water, mining water, separation of oil or other emulsions from water, distributed/on-site water treatment, and recovery of precious resources from water. In addition to government work, PARC is working with many commercial clients.

About PARC
PARC, a Xerox company, is in the Business of Breakthroughs®. Practicing open innovation, we provide custom R&D services, technology, expertise, best practices, and intellectual property to Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies, startups, and government agencies and partners. We create new business options, accelerate time to market, augment internal capabilities, and reduce risk for our clients. Since its inception, PARC has pioneered many technology platforms – from the Ethernet and laser printing to the GUI and ubiquitous computing – and has enabled the creation of many industries. Incorporated as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox in 2002, PARC today continues the research that enables breakthroughs for our clients' businesses.

PR contact

Kelly Brieger
KBPR for PARC, a Xerox company
650-704-1748
kelly@kbpr.net