Case Study

BiomWeb: A nature-based wastewater treatment system

Globally, less than 10% of collected wastewater receives any form of treatment. Despite significant investments in wastewater treatment (WWT) infrastructure, levels of treatment in rapidly urbanising, low- and even high-income cities are not keeping pace with population growth. However, donors and governments continue to invest millions of dollars in the traditional centralised WWT approach, despite the water sector’s troubles from over-reliance on centralisation and the consequent carbon lock-in.

Mrüna’s BiomWeb solution promotes the development of a decentralised nature-based WWT system for on-site use that is equipped with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology, making it ideal for off-the-grid use and urban spaces. The design philosophy behind the solution is that there is no waste in nature. The system works by harnessing the power of microbial food webs and mimicking the hydrology of aquatic ecosystems to treat wastewater in a way that minimises maintenance and operational costs and avoids the use of chemicals. The system harnesses bacteria, microbes, fungi, insects, and plants, found in nearly any wetland, to treat wastewater and even immobilise toxic heavy metals. A suite of IIoT sensors allows for accurate remote monitoring, data gathering, and reporting on the system’s performance.

BiomWeb builds urban climate resilience by championing a decentralised water management approach that is rooted in natural processes, in turn lowering emissions, and reducing water scarcity in parched landscapes. It also has the potential to be integrated into public landscapes, saving water and space, and enhancing greenery. In the Arabian Peninsula, urbanisation has resulted in increased emissions from trucks transporting treated water and sewage to and from remote construction sites. Water in this region already has a high carbon footprint due to desalination, and as water consumption grows, wastewater is the only water resource that increases each year.

In early 2023, Mrüna teamed up with Aldar, Abu Dhabi’s largest real estate developer, to pilot the BiomWeb system at their construction site office in Riyadh City. Today, this system treats on average 800m³ of sewage per month and helps reduce the amount of CO₂ that would otherwise be emitted by traditional sewage trucks. The treated wastewater is used to nourish a lush garden, which would have otherwise been irrigated with potable water.

Mrüna was the winner of InfraChallenge 2020 and is one of three InfraTech companies who presented their solution at the Resilience Hub at COP28.

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