During 12 years of visiting food plants and breweries, Jose Ramirez heard it over and over: cleaning the vats, tanks and piping every night generated oceans of wastewater, and getting rid of it was expensive.
Now, Ramirez, former head of research at Diversey Inc., has a solution. Mikroflot Technologies, his newly minted start-up, is aiming to fix the problem using microscopic bubbles.
“Our technology is based on a new way of generating these microscopic bubbles that is very simple and easy,” said Ramirez, who founded Mikroflot in 2014.
The idea of using bubbles to push contaminants to the top of a tank that needs cleaning is nothing new. There are big, expensive systems for that, all with the goal of minimizing the repeated rinsing needed to clean equipment to the right standards.
The wastewater generated by rinsing can’t just be sent down the drain. In Milwaukee alone, between 10% and 20% of the wastewater received by the sewage district comes from industrial customers, said Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.
More than 90% of small industrial plants discharge wastewater to their local sewers, and the typical medium-sized manufacturing or processing plant spends $40,000 to $200,000 a year on sewer surcharges, Ramirez said.