I-Phyc: Modernising Water Treatment

18 Aug 2016

The Bath and Bristol area is a well-established UK Tech cluster, with many thriving digital businesses. But what about other kinds of technology?

Industrial Phycology is a bio-technology company, currently developing a way to clean water that will have global positive effects on the environment.

What is Industrial Phycology?


Industrial Phycology (I-Phyc) was founded by Dr Dan Murray at the end of 2012. I-Phyc is an industrial bio-tech company that is engineering cutting-edge methods and technologies to enable companies to use algae on an industrial scale.

Algae can be used as part of the water-treatment process; namely the removal of nutrients, which encourage the growth of harmful algae and organic matter. 

Why is it better than what's on the market?

Nutrient removal is currently carried out by chemical precipitation; using chemicals to make the dissolved nutrients solid so that they can be filtered out. This leaves a large carbon footprint and produces toxic waste that ends up in landfill. It can also cost in excess of £4m for one phosphate recovery plant, plus ongoing costs for chemicals required to make the process work.

Using algae will off-set carbon emissions rather than creating any. The algae simply feed on these nutrients, which cleans the water whilst also allowing the algae to grow and reproduce. This algae can then be repurposed as biogas, biofuel, fertiliser or animal feed. As Dan says: "We take waste water, and turn it into clean water and money."

The Success of I-Phyc

I-Phyc have already established themselves as an award-winning company; after scooping an Algal SPARK award in 2014, they followed their success by winning the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum Award for Innovation and Technology Development, the award for UK company with most commercial potential at the Pitch@Palace and the Most Disruptive Technology award at the Global Tag Conference in 2015.

http://www.investinbath.co.uk/sites/default/files/pictures/IMG_9975-2.JPGThe firm has won €1.4m of funding from Horizon 2020- the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever. They were one of the only biotech companies in Europe to win funding through the April 2016 Phase 2 submission.

I-Phyc already has firm connections in the water treatment industry. Wessex Water are project partners, and have provided them with a site at Avonmouth in which to test their technology.

The company are now looking for a new water treatment site, as well as a smaller office to serve as home for the I-Phyc team, as they are currently based in the University of Bath's Innovation Centre

The Innovation Centre

"They've helped us immensely," says Dan, "they've helped to nurture us as a business, and pushed us to do things like Pitch@Palace, which led to us securing more than £600,000 in grants from Innovate UK and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (now BEIS).” Although the company are looking to move, Dan plans to continue supporting the Junior Researchers who turn to the Centre for business help. "Academic life doesn't really prepare you for applying science to the business world," says Dan. "Luckily we're seeing more young researchers getting interested in commercialising science."

Get Involved

If you would like to enquire about upcoming vacancies at I-Phyc, or to find out how I-Phyc could work with your company, please check out their website.