A start-up company formed by three academics from Liverpool John Moores University has developed a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way of eliminating industrial waste by using bugs.
NvIrophilic, founded by Nick Lepp, Noel Doyle and Brian Halligan, scientists at the school of biological and earth sciences, will market the Luboid system, which enables industrial companies to reduce the chemical content of their waste below legal discharge limits on their own site.
Luboid allows companies to dispose of spent metal working fluids, eliminating the need for large-scale storage and associated disposal costs.
The system uses naturally occurring micro-organisms to break down the waste fluid in a safe and environmentally friendly and fast way.
The final effluent may be recycled in the factory unit and will cut water costs. The system can also be used to dispose of many other liquid organic wastes from a variety of industry sectors.
Dr Doyle, the firm's technical director, said: "During the course of one year even a small company can produce significant amounts of waste lubricants. These can represent an enormous expense for the disposal of a fluid that is 95 per cent water. The system would be an ideal disposal solution to these waste producers."
The process was demonstrated at a recent environmental summit in Liverpool to more than 100 companies from Europe and Asia.
"No one at the event had seen anything like it and several major players have pursued their interest," Dr Doyle said.
One possible partner is already involved in a Pounds 300-million treatment plant in China.
NvIrophilic has won Pounds 50,000 incubation funding from Hothouse, a new project to support and develop entrepreneurial ideas into businesses on Merseyside.
Peter Harman, director of the Hothouse, said: "Hothouse targets anyone with a business idea based on technology expertise, has high growth potential and supports the further regeneration of the Merseyside economy.
"NvIrophilic has huge potential for growth and their Luboid system amounts to a genuine revolution in the disposal of industrial waste fluids."
Mr Halligan, NvIrophilic sales and marketing director said: "Hothouse has already provided us with the business expertise that has turned a research concept into a fully fledged commercial company. The Enterprise Award, which also includes managed workspace, will really help kick-start the company and ensure that we don't become stifled by high overheads.
"It'll also enable us to buy machinery and equipment and produce a range of marketing materials."
After the two-year incubation period, Hothouse will retain a 5 per cent equity in the company to fund further new ventures. The Hothouse aims to create 300 new businesses on Merseyside.
Hothouse is supported by Objective One funding with significant financial sponsorship from the Littlewoods Organisation and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Liverpool John Moores University and Business Link Merseyside are supporting partners.
A prototype Luboid System is in operation at BICC Rod and Wire's Prescot factory.