Photo of Carla Laucevicius

Biotechnology & medicine

Carla Laucevicius

Her bacterial cocktail tailored to Panama eliminates 90% of the grease which builds up within urban wastewater systems

Year Honored

Latin America

Hails From
Central America

"One of the biggest problems for wastewater treatment systems is the buildup of oils and grease, which can clog sanitation pipes. In Panama, the rapid growth of the population is exacerbating this problem. But the young Brazilian and resident of Panama Carla Laucevicius has developed a potential solution. She has designed a cocktail of bacteria capable of digesting the grease present in wastewater supplies in order to reduce buildup. The potential benefits of this breakthrough have led to her inclusion in MIT Technology Review, Spanish Edition´s Innovators Under 35 Central America 2016 awards.

The use of bacteria to reduce the buildup of grease within the water treatment infrastructure is a well-known practice, but Laucevicius and her team have perfected it by identifying a local microbiota specific to Panama. The country´s bacterial community is capable of degrading the combination of grease and oil generated in the region and which, until now, was not degraded by any existing solution.

""The first step was to identify which bacteria appear naturally in the buildup of grease within Panamanian installations,"" the young innovator explains. Once these microorganisms had been isolated, the team performed a selective culture until they achieved a final combination capable of reducing the accumulation of grease by between 80% and 90%. This bacterial cocktail has been baptized as BioToth, and is being commercialized by Toth Research & Lab, the company founded by Laucevicius.

BioThoth is inoculated within the grease traps installed in restaurants, supermarkets and residential areas for wastewater treatment purposes. In this way, the bacteria reduce the frequency with which these installations require emptying, thereby generating cost savings.

Laucevicius´ biggest success story is a large shopping mall with over 200 stores and dozens of restaurants to which Toth Research & Lab provides an integral wastewater treatment service. Thanks to their efforts, the company has achieved a 90% reduction in the presence of grease and oils in the water which reaches the treatment facility, the young innovator explains. The company possesses this information because, in addition to providing the anti-grease bacterial mixture, ""Toth is also the lab in charge of analyzing the water quality at the plant which services this shopping mall,"" the young entrepreneur highlights.

The end result not only benefits BioToth customers in particular, but also the entire water treatment system. In the opinion of the general director of the Central Coastal Technological Park (Argentina) and jury member for the Innovators Under 35 Central America 2016 awards, Laucevicius ""stands out due to her persistent dedication to wastewater treatments and her efforts in moving this initiative forward."""