Skip navigation

Please find below the judging results for your proposal.

Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' ratings


Novelty:
Feasibility:
Impact:
Presentation:

Judges'' comments


SUBJECT: Your proposal has been selected as a Finalist!

Congratulations! Your proposal, Nualgi - Diatom Algae for Sewage Treatment in the Waste Management contest, has been selected to advance to the Finalists round.

Be proud of your accomplishment – more than 350 proposals were submitted and only a very small number have been advanced through these two rounds of judging.

As a Finalist, your proposal is eligible for the contest’s Judges Choice award, as well as the contest’s Popular Choice award, which is determined by public voting.

If you haven’t already, you will soon receive an email from the Climate CoLab staff with details about the voting period. If you don’t receive that email within the next day, or have other questions, please contact the Climate CoLab staff at admin@climatecolab.org

All winners will be announced the week after the voting period ends, on September 12, 2015 at midnight Eastern Time.

Both Judges Choice and Popular Choice will receive a special invitation to attend selected sessions at MIT’s SOLVE conference and present their proposals before key constituents in a workshop the next day, where a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded. A few select Climate CoLab winners will join distinguished SOLVE attendees in a highly collaborative problem-solving session. Some contests have additional prizes given by the contest sponsor.

Thank you for your work on this very important issue. We’re proud of your proposal, and we hope that you are too. Again, congratulations!



2015 Climate CoLab Judges



Additional comments from the Judges:

Judge 1: Novel concept although I still question the large-scale use of the material. While the numbers may play out on paper, I imagine there are numerous hurdles in the real world when applying this to rivers and oceans. Regarding WWTP, the narrative suggests this can be used to treat raw sewage. Referencing the facilities listed above, waste still has to be treated for solids and others prior to being able treated for nutrients. You are suggesting, at least as I read it, that WWTP would become obsolete as we know them. Diatom growth is largely dependent on the amount of silica in the water. The assumption is that the nano-silica will spur growth of the initial population but the amount of available silica in WW was not addressed/evaluated. In addition, while diatoms can grow quickly, it is unlikely that any WWTP has the ability to store 350 MGD to grow diatoms. There was no discussion of residence time to treat wastewater at a WWTP nor was there any discussion of the effectiveness of the nutrient removal (50%, 75%, 100%?) While it is true that treatment reservoirs would be smaller than drinking water reservoirs, a 350 MGD WWTP would require a 30,000 acre-foot treatment pond, which is one square mile, 45 feet deep - a difficult pond to build in a limited-space urban area. I do concede there is ultimately value in this if the water can be reused. The proposal should be more focused on a particular application. There is talk of 350 MGD WWTP and treating raw sewage on the 10th floor of a building. I think the concept has a lot of promise but needs to be tailored to a specific industry application for this proposal. That's not to say it can't be ramped up to larger scale later. Ocean seeding has been met with some skepticism and may present legal and public perception problems. Even good ideas are sometime met with skepticism due to lack of understanding. I will reiterate that I think the price per kiloliter needs to be reduced greatly to get it into greater public use. You did indicate economies of scale would reduce cost but didn't indicate to what extent. You did not address whether it would be effective in areas already subjected to a decrease in diatoms and increase in algae growth due to sewage discharge(e.g Arabian Sea). Will the diatom population overtake the green algae population. As to the increase in fish population, is the suggestion that fisheries are crashing due to a lack of diatoms (food as the base level) rather than overfishing or other issues? Would the increase in diatoms necessarily lead to a liner increase in fish populations? I agree the product has a potential use in fish farming but I am not sure I see a linear relationship between diatoms and fish population. This is a interesting product and I think would have some focused applications, e.g. designed into new construction buildings, new septic construction redesign to incorporate the product, golf course design to incorporate detention ponds for runoff.

Judge 2: Thank you for addressing comments and reworking the proposal page. I feel as if this is much clearer and understandable. I challenge the feasibility only because it seems that that is a missing element from this proposal. What would be the forseeable challenges to getting the stakeholders and entities needed to execute this type of project be? How could they be overcome? Great proposal!



..

Semi-Finalist Evaluation

Judges'' ratings


Novelty:
Feasibility:
Impact:
Presentation:

Judges'' comments


Congratulations! Your proposal, Nualgi - Diatom Algae for Sewage Treatment in the Waste Management contest has been selected to advance to the Semi-Finalists round. You will be able to revise your proposal and add new collaborators if you wish, from July 1st, 2015 until July 14, 2015, midnight Eastern Time.

At the revision deadline listed above, your proposal will be locked and considered in final form. The Judges will undergo another round of evaluation to ensure that Semi-Finalist proposals have addressed the feedback given, and select which proposals will continue to the Finalists round. Finalists are eligible for the contest’s Judges Choice award, as well as for public voting to select the contest’s Popular Choice award.

The Judges' comments are posted below.
Please incorporate answers to these comments in your revisions, or your proposal may not be advanced to the Finalists round.



Judge 1: As a geologist with an understanding of diatoms in the fossil record, there is no doubt that using them to sequester carbon is a reality as nature has done it exceptionally well. The idea of utilizing a nutrient source for the growth of algae, while not novel, is commercially feasible and has a broad range of possibilities.

Harvesting fish in lieu of algae is an interesting variation. Harvesting algae while difficult is also an additional food source. I think the proposal has merit on small-scale commercial operations and small waste-water treatment facilities. Large waste-water treatment facilities process 10s of millions of gallons of waste water per day and storage of that water for algae and fish growth would take too much land.

Large scale implementation in large lake and rivers has potential unforeseen consequences. I feel is questionable without significant additional research into the possible outcomes of major algal blooms not consumed. I would have to see more detail into the potential upside of the increase in fisheries to make this feasible, especially at the extraordinary cost proposed. I definitely think is has potential for smaller scale implementation but the cost per unit has to be reduced dramatically.

Judge 2: This is a great proposal, a little technical / wonky, but understandable. Wastewater treatment is certainly an industry that could benefit from some paradigm shift and this proposal is interesting in moving wastewater treatment towards a more sustainable pathway.

As with all new technologies that promise a solution to a problem the long term impacts of this approach to wastewater treatment need to be assessed. Are there any forseeable negative externalities associated with shocking water bodies with large quantities of this type of algae? While this project is novel in terms of what happens at a wastewater treatment plant, I would have liked to see an intervention further upstream in the wastewater treatment system.

Also, most of the energy consumption that occurs at WWTP (in the states at least) is for heating. Can these algae survive in cold waters? The impact is clearly stated and definitely presented as a scale-able technology pending questions above. The presentation could benefit from some more clearly and succinctly packaged information.

Judge 3: Interesting proposal; may want to ask for more information related to life cycle of diatoms, especially at project level.

Thank you for your great work and again, congratulations!

2015 Climate CoLab Judges.

3comments
Share conversation: Share via:

Bhaskar Mallimadugula

Jul 10, 2015
02:20

Member


1 |
Share via:
Proposal
creator
The proposal has been revised and all the questions and comments by the Judges have been answered. The presentation is also improved by adding sub-headings and a sort of FAQ. Detailed answers to each of the judges questions has been posted on the comments page. The main issues are that Nualgi is an absolutely unique product and can be used in large tanks, lakes and even in the oceans. No one else is even talking about growing Diatoms on a large scale, in such a simple manner, but we have demonstrated it. It is in use on a regular commercial basis since 2005 on a small scale and there are no side effects or other problems and it is economical compared to other solutions. So the product is well proven in the field. Support is required only to scale up the use for all applications rapidly.

Bhaskar Mallimadugula

Jul 11, 2015
04:02

Member


2 |
Share via:
Proposal
creator
Solve, MIT asks "By midcentury, nearly 10 billion people will inhabit our planet. Where will we find the food and clean water to nourish everyone?" http://solve.mit.edu/pillars Using the nutrients in sewage to grow Diatom Algae and Fish is the simplest solution to secure clean water and food.

Bhaskar Mallimadugula

Aug 1, 2015
02:57

Member


3 |
Share via:
Proposal
creator
Replies to the Additional comments and questions from the Judges, these are in quotes and answers below each para : August 1, 2015 "Novel concept although I still question the large-scale use of the material. While the numbers may play out on paper, I imagine there are numerous hurdles in the real world when applying this to rivers and oceans." The doubts are based on theory and not on actual observation of Nualgi and Diatoms at work. "Regarding WWTP, the narrative suggests this can be used to treat raw sewage. Referencing the facilities listed above, waste still has to be treated for solids and others prior to being able treated for nutrients." The non biodegradable solids in the WWTP can be take care of in the conventional manner i.e., using grit chambers and primary settlement tanks. Most of the solid in sewage is carbon, this is broken down by bacteria and converted into CO2 and this is consumed by Diatoms. The oxygen from Diatoms sustains the aerobic bacteria. "You are suggesting, at least as I read it, that WWTP would become obsolete as we know them." That is right. "Diatom growth is largely dependent on the amount of silica in the water. The assumption is that the nano-silica will spur growth of the initial population but the amount of available silica in WW was not addressed / evaluated." Silica is the 3rd most abundant element on Earth, after Iron and Oxygen. Availability of silica in sewage is not a critical factor and there are many economical sources of silica that can be dosed along with Nualgi. There are no technological issues, only economic issues. "In addition, while diatoms can grow quickly, it is unlikely that any WWTP has the ability to store 350 MGD to grow diatoms. There was no discussion of residence time to treat wastewater at a WWTP nor was there any discussion of the effectiveness of the nutrient removal (50%, 75%, 100%?) While it is true that treatment reservoirs would be smaller than drinking water reservoirs, a 350 MGD WWTP would require a 30,000 acre-foot treatment pond, which is one square mile, 45 feet deep - a difficult pond to build in a limited-space urban area. I do concede there is ultimately value in this if the water can be reused." Land requirement has been discussed in the proposal. The effectiveness of nutrient removal is over 90%. Simple calculation is that if retention time is 10 days, the nutrient input of 1 day ( today ) is in the water and rest would have been consumed. Sorry for not mentioning this in the proposal, partly due to the word limit. "The proposal should be more focused on a particular application. There is talk of 350 MGD WWTP and treating raw sewage on the 10th floor of a building. I think the concept has a lot of promise but needs to be tailored to a specific industry application for this proposal. That's not to say it can't be ramped up to larger scale later." The technology is very flexible, so we have to mention the scalability from individual buildings to large city sized plants. "Ocean seeding has been met with some skepticism and may present legal and public perception problems. Even good ideas are sometime met with skepticism due to lack of understanding. I will reiterate that I think the price per kiloliter needs to be reduced greatly to get it into greater public use. You did indicate economies of scale would reduce cost but didn't indicate to what extent." Agreed. That is why we require all the support we can get. Future price can only be known in future, all the raw materials are available and quite inexpensive, regulatory issues too have an impact on the price. Cost of compliance with law can be quite high, as in the case of pharmaceuticals. "You did not address whether it would be effective in areas already subjected to a decrease in diatoms and increase in algae growth due to sewage discharge(e.g Arabian Sea). Will the diatom population overtake the green algae population." Yes. Diatoms will overtake Blue Green, Green, Dinoflagellate populations when Nualgi is used. This was mentioned in the proposal. 'Is there any danger of algal blooms? Nualgi does not cause algal blooms, in fact It is used to prevent algal blooms. ...' "As to the increase in fish population, is the suggestion that fisheries are crashing due to a lack of diatoms (food as the base level) rather than overfishing or other issues? Would the increase in diatoms necessarily lead to a liner increase in fish populations? I agree the product has a potential use in fish farming but I am not sure I see a linear relationship between diatoms and fish population." There is a linear relationship between Diatoms and fish, most fish and crustaceans require diatoms for the first few days after the hatching of the eggs. The newly born fish are too small to consume any other feed other than Diatoms. So the survival rate of fish improves when there are more Diatoms in the water. Small fish, such as mackerel, herring, etc., consume diatoms and large fish consume the small fish. Krill consume diatoms and Whales feed on krill. Overfishing is the reason for decline in Diatoms, this is discussed in the paper by Dr. Viktor Smetacek but not mentioned in the proposal since it is not directly relevant. The faeces of the fish and whales contains the micro-nutrients required by Diatoms, so when fish and whales decline the recycling of micro-nutrients slows down and Diatom growth slows down. "This is a interesting product and I think would have some focused applications, e.g. designed into new construction buildings, new septic construction redesign to incorporate the product, golf course design to incorporate detention ponds for runoff." Thank you. Our proposal is based on what is available at present and what is relevant to the topic. Further development of the product and applications is an ongoing process. "Thank you for addressing comments and reworking the proposal page. I feel as if this is much clearer and understandable." Thanks. "I challenge the feasibility only because it seems that that is a missing element from this proposal. What would be the forseeable challenges to getting the stakeholders and entities needed to execute this type of project be? How could they be overcome?" There are no technological challenges, the main challenge is people and their ability to accept new concepts and availability of funds to further develop the product and applications. "Great proposal!" Thanks.