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Sewer Sweetener

Environmental startup In-Pipe Technology has a cheap fix for today’s overloaded sewage-treatment plants: a potent brew of bacteria that can digest society’s effluent before it reaches the plant and can clean the sewer lines in the process. Bacteria are already critical sewage additives for treatment plants, but In-Pipe in Wheaton, IL, is the first to employ them under the streets. Released into sewer mains in a steady drip, In-Pipe’s concentrated blend of naturally occurring bacteria colonizes the pipe walls, displacing indigenous microbes that emit offensive sulfurous odors and corrode the pipes. In-Pipe president Daniel Williamson says the colonizers are also efficient eaters, cutting by 50 to 85 percent the biosolids that make it to the plant. Most of In-Pipe’s 14 installations are in southern states such as Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, where thanks to heat and humidity, sewer stench and corrosion are year-round nuisances. Armed with two years’ worth of performance data, Williamson is raising funds to bring In-Pipe’s relief to stinky sewers across the United States.

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