May 27, 2010

Autodesk Helps Micromidas Transform Organic Waste into Biodegradable Plastics

Clean Tech Firm Embraces Digital Prototyping with Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Algor Simulation Software for Mobile Biorefinery Plant.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif - Micromidas, Inc., is using software from Autodesk, Inc to design processing plants that convert organic wastewater into biodegradable and recyclable bioplastics.

The Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program — which provides software grants for emerging clean tech companies in North America and Europe — helped Micromidas accelerate design of its processing plants and equipment through Digital Prototyping technology, including Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Algor Simulation, Autodesk Showcase and Autodesk Vault Professional software.

Micromidas processing plants enable municipalities to effectively and ecologically dispose of solid waste (or “sludge”) while producing environmentally friendly plastics. Micromidas has pioneered a complex bio-refinery process where microbes — natural microorganisms — consume the carbon in raw waste and convert it into a bacterial polymer that can be harvested and used as plastic. The processing plants require anywhere from 50 to 100 different machines and systems working in concert: everything from centrifuges and hydrocyclones to piping systems, reactors and extruders. Using Autodesk Inventor software, Micromidas can quickly design, visualize and simulate its biorefinery systems and processes. Autodesk Algor Simulation software helps the company to accurately measure fluid dynamics interactions within the simulated context of a wastewater treatment plant.

“Like most start-ups, we’re a relatively small company. We don’t have hundreds of employees at our disposal to help us develop a new technology,” said John Bissell, CEO of Micromidas. “Autodesk software helps level the playing field by ‘amplifying’ our manpower. With digital prototypes, we can rapidly explore designs and iterate much faster than we otherwise would.”

Autodesk Showcase software helps Micromidas create realistic 3D visualizations of its designs to share with investors and prospective customers, while Autodesk Vault Professional software can securely store and manage all engineering information, design data and documents in a central location.

Improved efficiency has enabled Micromidas to swiftly transform its technology from idea to finished product. The company’s first pilot plant, the Mobile Biorefinery, is currently under construction with plans to be operational within the next three months. The pilot plant is built on a flatbed truck capable of plugging into wastewater treatment plants across the United States.

“Rapid innovation is essential for clean tech companies,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Autodesk Manufacturing Industry Group. “By using Digital Prototyping to generate and explore ideas more quickly, Micromidas is maximizing its research and development resources.”