Bangalore: How would you like the idea of cleaning a dirty lake or a river for a nominal price and in an eco-friendly way?

Bangalore-based NuAlgi Nanobiotech has devised a way to treat sewage and effluents through a patented product, called NuAlgi, which not only cleans a polluted water body without affecting its ecology, but also adds nutrients to it, increasing the food content for fish.

Growth track: T. Sampath Kumar of NuAlgi Nanobiotech.. Hemant Mishra / Mint

NuAlgi, which can be used to clean a pond, a lake or a river, is available in powder form which needs to be dissolved in water in a container before draining into the water body. Chief executive T. Sampath Kumar recommends using 1-2kg of NuAlgi per four million litres of water. A 1kg pack of NuAlgi is priced at Rs275.

Within 15 minutes of dissolving NuAlgi in the water, diatom algae is released. These growing algae absorb nutrients and carbon dioxide from the water and produce oxygen by photosynthesis. The oxygen released helps aerobic bacteria break down the organics and convert the pollutants to base constituents, all this minus the stink that anaerobic decomposition generates. The diatoms are eaten by zooplanktons that are, in turn, consumed by fish. The ecosystem of the water body is maintained and observed by the presence of healthy fish, which are fit for human consumption.

“With the use of NuAlgi, all polluted lakes and rivers can be restored without harming the water life," says Kumar, who invented NuAlgi over eight years, from 1996 to 2004, and has since been marketing it mainly to fishermen in and around Bangalore.

Besides cleaning water bodies, the product also has several other uses. NuAlgi can be used for growing phytoplankton in oceans to absorb carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse effect, thereby aiding in solving the global warming problem. It can also be used for preventing growth of toxic algae species called red tides in the oceans. It can be used for generating plankton and live food in aquaculture ponds which can boost the growth of prawns and fish. The firm is currently selling the product for aquaculture in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and is nationally marketed by Secunderabad-based Kadambari Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

The relatively little-known firm has so far treated at least 100 lakes. In Bangalore, it has treated sewage laden lakes such as the Madivala lake, Ulsoor lake, Vengayyana kere (KR Puram) and Puttenahalli lake (near Yelahanka). Some of its other clients include Cochin Sea Foods, Mysore Breweries Ltd and Ashok Leyland Ltd.

Talking about the positive effects of the product, Kumar says it is a fast and economical alternative to the conventional effluent treatment plants (ETP) in treating sewage and other organic wastes.

The qualified chartered accountant, who is now working on applications of using NuAlgi to produce biodiesel and ways to mitigate global warming, however, rues the lack of awareness about the product. The reluctance of people to take up environmental issues have been a severe roadblock in the propagation of the product. “We are very successful in clearing ponds, though not as successful commercially. Nobody wants to clean up water bodies. People don’t care." I can clean up the whole of Yamuna in 15-20 days, he claims.

“This kind of play needs government assistance. Lakes, rivers, ponds are a public property in India and no private firm or body or firm will take up their maintenance or cleaning up," said Rajesh Srivathsa, managing partner, Ojas Venture Partners.

The firm, which is breaking even, employs eight people, and its immediate future plans include marketing the product more aggressively and raise funds. Kumar says they are in talks with venture capital funds but refused to divulge how much he plans to raise.