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Israeli Success Story Aqwise: The Evolution of Biology

By: Mickey Chesla

Aqwise Biomass Carriers

Aqwise began as a small start-up offering innovative biological treatment of urban wastewater, and today offers a variety of solutions for municipal and industrial customers, due to intensive R&D and expansion into new arenas of activity.  With 150 installations around the world and activity in more then 20 countries, it appears Aqwise’s road to the top is wide open.

Aqwise ID

  • Areas of activity:  Water and wastewater treatment for municipal and industrial markets (paper, food and drink, pharm, petrochemicals)
  • Founded: 2000
  • Ownership:  Mexican Ahmsa Corporation, an international integrator in metal mining – 55%, Elron – 34%, Israel Cleantech – 11%
  • CEO: Elad Frenkel
  • Geographical penetration: more than 20 countries in Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, Russia,USA, and Central and South America
  • Employees: 50 employees in Israel (headquarters and R&D center in Herzliya) and the world (sales and engineering support for projects and existing installations)


Aqwise is considered one of the first companies which singled out Cleantech as the new Israeli sphere in the successful Israeli hi-tech arena. The Company began as a small start-up, which developed innovative technology for the biological treatment of wastewater. Now, 12 years later, the Company is profitable, has 150 installations around the world, and representation and partnerships in over 20 countries. Its activity today is more varied in terms of areas of activity, and is taking place all over the world: in China, India, Western and Eastern Europe, Russia, U.S.A., Central and South America, with offices and subsidiaries in Mexico, Italy and The Netherlands, in addition to Israel.

Today Aqwise’s technology is implemented in a wide variety of applications for municipal and industrial markets, and are geared both to the efficient planning of new wastewater treatment facilities and to the upgrading of existing facilities. According to CEO Elad Frenkel, upgrading an existing facility with the Company’s technologies requires fairly minimal investment, and creates significant increases in capacity and/or improved water quality at the end of the process, for the customer. “The upgrades we’ve conducted on existing facilities improved their treatment abilities significantly, meaning they generated greater output of treated wastewater and/or better quality water, which is in great demand today, as regulation in this field is becoming more and more strict,” says Frenkel.

The Company continues to invest in R&D.  One example of this is Aqwise Biomass CarriersAqana BV, a subsidiary in The Netherlands, which was born out of a cooperation between Aqwise and a Dutch Water technologies BV (for more on this cooperation click here), which is presenting a unique solution for the combined anaerobic and aerobic treatment of highly polluted industrial wastewater. Aerobic treatment is based on the insertion of oxygen in the wastewater treatment process, whereas anaerobic treatment is done without the use of oxygen.  Both processes are biological, meaning they are based on the activity of bacteria which is fed on the pollutants in the water, but the difference is that aerobic treatment is much more wasteful of energy and so there is an advantage to using  anaerobic treatment in certain applications, which makes the process more cost-effective.

Aqwise markets a variety of products and applications under the brand name AGAR ® (Attached Growth Airlift Reactor) for the treatment of a variety of types of wastewater using various MBBR (Moving Bed Bio Reactor) and IFAS (Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge) configurations.  With this technology biomass carriers, which look like little colorful plastic balls, mix in the water, and even though to the untrained eye the balls look small, actually they have a large surface area.  The bacteria see this as a convenient area to grow on, and this manipulation enables greater biological activity in any given area.  This is the secret which enables Aqwise to plan a compact new facility or to make an existing facility more efficient, in many cases without the need to physically enlarge the treatment area.


Clean Water for the Taj Mahal 

In the framework of Aqwise’s expansion into related fields, based on its core technology, the Company today provides a wide variety of solutions for drinking water.  Recently the Company has become active in the area of water well purification, and it is the first Israeli company to receive the Israeli Health Ministry’s approval to biologically treat drinking water, following a field pilot with Mekorot (Israel’s national water utility). The Company’s technology enables efficient treatment of nitrates, one of the most common pollutants of water wells around the world.  Nitrates emanate from different sources including agricultural fertilizers, cesspools and dairy farms, and international regulation on nitrates is becoming more and more strict.

Aqwise claims that biological treatment (via bacteria) of nitrates has an advantage over existing technologies, mostly in cost-efficiency and logistical management of the facility that is required in other types of treatment. Additionally, Aqwise customers are spared the need to remove or treat the brine generated from nitrate removal in other common forms of treatment.

“We have identified the large potential in the field of biological drinking water treatment,” concludes Frenkel, “Moreover, we recently won a huge project in India which deals with purification of river water.” In the framework of this project 150,000 cubes of water will be purified daily from the Yamuna River, and more than 2 million inhabitants of the nearby city of Agra (the city in which the Taj Mahal is located) will be provided with clean drinking water.” And with its first steps firmly entrenched in India and China, the future for Aqwise looks very bright indeed.

    Wastewater Reclamation, Water
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