UCD spin-out AquaB wins global award

AquaB, a University College Dublin spin-out which was established earlier this year, has won a global chemical engineering award.

University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, AquaB (AquaB Nanobubble Innovations Ltd), has won the Water Award category at the 2020 Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards.

The UCD spin-out was the only Irish company to receive an award at the virtual ceremony.

“AquaB plans to develop and supply nanobubble generators, as well as licence the nanobubble technology worldwide, as an export-driven, high-tech and ambitious company under dynamic leadership”

The IChemE Global Awards celebrate chemical, process and biochemical engineering excellence, and is widely considered as the world’s most prestigious chemical engineering awards.

Open the bubbly …

Smiling man in suit and tie.

Prof Niall English

AquaB was established earlier this year to commercialise a new energy-efficient method to generate and release substantial volumes of meta-stable, nano-scale gas bubbles in water.

This method is based on research carried out by co-founders professor Niall English and Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani at UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.

AquaB’s new method of generating nanobubbles has the potential to deliver a step-change in the operational efficiencies of a number of industrial sectors including, among others, wastewater treatment, gas storage, biopharma, brewing, disinfection, agriculture and food.

“I am delighted that AquaB, which was only established earlier this year, has already been recognised for its global impact potential by winning a prestigious IChemE Global Award,” said professor Niall English.

“This is a reflection of strong international interest in our core nanobubble-generation technology, and big advances in nanobubble aeration for the activated-sludge process, water disinfection, as well as advances in dissolved air flotation.”

Nanobubbles are extremely small gas bubbles that have several unique physical properties that make them very different from normal bubbles. These properties make nanobubbles a superior aeration method for a number of applications around the world.

He added, “It is also a significant endorsement for us as a young Irish start-up, especially given the international competition, from well-established research organisations and companies, in our Award category.”

He concluded: “AquaB plans to develop and supply nanobubble generators, as well as licence the nanobubble technology worldwide, as an export-driven, high-tech and ambitious company under dynamic leadership. We thank Enterprise Ireland for its support to date.”

AquaB, established with the support of NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at UCD, is currently a participant in the 2020 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme run by NovaUCD.

BioSimulytics, another UCD spin-out company that was co-founded by professor Niall English, was also shortlisted for the Business Start-Up Award and the Pharma Award at the IchemE Global Awards, but unfortunately didn’t come away with an award.

The importance of chemical engineering to society

BioSimulytics is developing a software solution which only requires the basic 2-D structure of a compound to accurately predict the detailed profiles of all its polymorphic forms, ranked by the most stable, with full certainty achieved within weeks.

This results in up to 50pc time saving on the current experimentation method used by drug manufacturers to identify the correct crystal structure of a new drug.

In total, more than 120 entries from around the world were shortlisted for the 2020 IChemE Global Awards across 20 Award categories.

The other finalists in the Water Award Category, won by AquaB, were research institutions and companies from Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Singapore and USA.

“Chemical engineering’s contribution to society is visible in every home, school, hospital, factory and high street worldwide,” added Stephen Richardson, president of IChemE.

“To each of our winners, your remarkable work has been recognised by your peers at the IChemE Global Awards to commend you for the real impact you’re making in tackling some of the huge environmental, social and economic challenges we are facing.”

To view the full list of winners at the 2020 IChemE Global Awards, visit https://www.icheme.org/career/events/awards/global-awards/.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 24 November, 2020