IIT Madras Alumni-founded Startup developing Microbial Fuel Cell technology to generate Electricity by treating Textile Wastewater

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Chennai: A startup founded by an Indian Institute of Technology Madras Alumni has developed microbial fuel cells that can generate electricity by treating textile wastewater.

JSP Enviro, which ventured into the clean tech business in 2016, is involved in treating and recycling industrial wastewater, restoration of polluted water bodies, landscaping and beautification projects besides treating wastewater for reuse. They are restoring a 30-acre lake located in the Integral Coach Factory premises at Villivakkam, Chennai.

JSP Enviro also became the first Indian startup to bag funding from ‘EIT Climate-KIC’, Europe’s largest Climate-based Accelerator in November 2018. The startup has established a dedicated Research and Development team based at IIT Madras to create new technologies for water treatment.

Speaking about the uniqueness of this technology and future plans, Dr. V.T. Fidal Kumar, Founder of the Startup and an IIT Madras alumnus (2017Batch / Dept of Biotechnology), said, “Microbial Fuel Cells are relatively a new technology and if implemented for all major industrial effluents, we can aim to achieve high energy savings. I am hopeful that this technology will create a great impact in the waste and energy sectors.”

The current target segment for the startup is the dyeing industry. They aim to target the small dyeing units in India which cannot afford large Common Effluent Treatment Plants. The unique aspects of this technology developed by JSP Enviro include:

Ø Energy positive effluent treatment technology – net zero OPEX (Operational Expenditure) and carbon neutral process

Ø Typical payback time is 5 years, contributed by: energy savings, reduction in excess sludge quantity and tax/carbon credits

Ø Suitable even for small installations, with organic load as low as 100 Kg BOD/Day

Ø Product can be scaled up/down based on requirements with minimal maintenance, and

Currently, JSP Enviro is in the process of joining the IIT Madras Bioincubator to augment R&D for its product. They are planning to launch a demonstration model by early 2020. Dr. Fidal Kumar is also Project Officer for Centre for NEMS & Nanophotonics, IIT Madras.

Elaborating on the technology, JSP Enviro Co-founder Dr. Priyadharshini Mani, who has a PhD from University of Westminster, London, said, “This product is based on environment friendly microorganisms that degrade the waste and produce electricity in the process. The distinctive feature of our technology is that it is energy positive as opposed to the energy intensive technologies available in the market. The product requires minimal maintenance and is targeted towards dyeing, printing, leather, dairy industries in India. The current systems used are expensive and have high maintenance cost. Therefore, our technology is expected to significantly reduce the cost, making it accessible to the small industries.”

JSP Enviro was one of the four Indian teams selected to represent the country in the world’s largest green-business event called ‘Climate launchpad’ held in Scotland in November 2018. They won the Second Place in an event that featured 135 teams from 50 countries and won a prize money of 5000 Euros.

They pitch their ideas in front of leading investors and entrepreneurs. The event creates a stage for people who have great clean tech ideas and helps them develop those ideas into startups making global impact. Climate KIC has supported more than 2000 start-ups making it one of the largest, worldwide.

Speaking about the business potential of the product, Co-founder Mr. Suresh Paul, an MBA graduate from London School of Commerce, U.K., and a member of the startup, said, “In an industrialized country like India, there is a high demand for environmental solution technologies to meet the regulations imposed on industries to improve environmental standards. Our MFC technology, which is low-cost and energy-efficient, is one of the perfect solutions for these industries.”

The company has a strong team of Scientists, Businessmen and experienced professionals to undertake various environmental projects. The founders of JSP Enviro have a strong profile, bringing in expertise from various fields.

Dr. Fidal Kumar has nine years of R&D experience in nanotechnology and product development at IIT Madras and brings in sound technical knowledge to the team. Dr. Priyadharshini Mani’s PhD was based on developing enzyme-based water treatment of textile effluents. She has considerable experience in working with industrial wastewater and is proficient with the water treatment methods. Mr. Suresh Paul Jones brings in more than 10 years of marketing experience in various companies in India and U.K. He has experience in managing lake restoration and landscaping projects.