Point of Source Sewage Treatment Device

EPA Contract Number: 68HERC21C0037
Title: Point of Source Sewage Treatment Device
Investigators: Holbrook, Kalan F
Small Business: FHNC Ltd. Co.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2021 through August 31, 2021
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2021) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Water , SBIR - Clean and Safe Water


Fats, oils and greases (FOGs) cause 75% of sewer systems in the US to operate at 50% capacity, cost US cities over $20 billion in sewer maintenance, and cause over 40,000 sewer overflows annually. Most commercial kitchens are required by law to remove FOGs with a grease interceptor from wastewater before emitting into public sewers.

In order to reduce sewer maintenance costs and overflows while increasing sewer capacities, FHNC Ltd. Co. has developed a proprietary, point of source sewage treatment device capable of removing over 95% of FOGs and 100% of large solids from restaurants’ waste steam. The device relies on a tri-stage hydrocylone which separates the liquids with centrifugal force; a similar device is used in oil fields to separate water from fracturing fluid.

Restaurants use significant amounts of water and place a heavy load on public sewers. The average restaurant consumes 3,000 - 7,000 gallons of water per day. Over 50% of water is consumed in the kitchen and 34% in restrooms and irrigation.

Our technology when paired with appropriate gray water processing hardware can re-use the kitchen effluent to flush toilets in the restrooms and irrigate. This could enable up to a 34% reduction in water consumption by restaurants or about 1 billion gallons per day. There are approximately 600,000 restaurants in the US consuming about 3 billion gallons of water per day.

The grease interceptor, originally patented in 1884, works well in a laboratory but is only 40-70% effective at removing FOGs in real world conditions. In comparison, the FHNC Ltd. Co. sewage treatment device is more than 95% effective in removing those same FOGs.

By removing nearly all FOGs from the effluent stream, this technology increases public sewer capacity and has the potential to significantly decrease sewer overflows. It also enables the kitchen effluent stream to be re-used as non-potable water (flush toilets) before it enters the public sewer. It is possible to reduce restaurant water use in the US by 1 billion gallons per day with this technology.

A Phase I SBIR grant will enable FHNC to test the existing device’s outflows in real-world restaurant environments to determine what further processes are necessary to reach non-potable (gray) water as defined by the EPA. The test results will then be used to design, prototype and test hardware that customers can optionally add to our existing device.