The story behind Ovivo’s latest patent
In 2019, Calvin was working on a project where Ovivo was implementing a new diffused aeration system with an unusual basin configuration. In this specific project, three concentric rings with AEROSTRIP® diffusers were built to aerate the wastewater. Typically, three flow controls would have used to monitor the dissolved oxygen levels in each ring. However, due to other equipment constraints, the system could only allow for two flow controls which meant that two rings would be on the same header with one flow meter. The problem was how to control multiple aeration zones through a single header with only one flow meter? “We don’t have a base program for diffused aeration systems so each one must be built from scratch. And in this case, I had to build a program that also solved this specific problem’’ explains Calvin.
Calvin lives an hour away from work which allows him plenty of time to think through the problem. “I thought if I can adjust the balance of volume between the speakers in the car for better sound, we should be able to use a similar method for adjusting the balance of airflow.” And that’s how he began designing a control strategy that would allow to transfer flow from one ring to another.
When Calvin presented a small-scale simulation of his new design, the project manager suggested to patent the design. Calvin remembers clearly that moment: ‘’The solution was set to be implemented a couple of weeks later, which meant that we had to move fast to file the request. That was my first lesson learned in the patent process: As soon as your idea is out into the public sphere, it becomes public knowledge and can no longer be patented’’.
The following weeks were spent preparing the documentation for the provisional patent application that was sent to the examiner before its installation. The whole application process than took a little over three years and Calvin was granted his first US patent for his Process Aeration Balance Controller in Wastewater Treatment system. He is grateful that Ovivo gave him the freedom to try new things, pushing his abilities and allowing him to grow.
‘’During my research to patent my idea, I was impressed to see the number of patents Ovivo has compared to the competition. That speaks volume! The fact that Ovivo values developing their own intellectual property and provides support to employees wanting to patent their ideas’’.
About Calvin Robertson
After earning his degree in Electrical Automation and Robotics Technology at the Utah Valley University, Calvin began his career as a Maintenance Mechanic in the pulp and paper industry. That’s where he developed his skills working on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). He later worked as a Control Systems Specialist in a mining company before joining Ovivo as a Controls Engineer.