Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researcher Thinks "Inside the Box" to Create Self-contained Wastewater System for Soldiers, Small Towns

Cheaper. Better. Faster. Most people will say you can't have all three. But don't tell that to Dr. Jianmin Wang, a professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Wang has created a wastewater system "in a box." Each system, built by re-purposing a shipping container, is low power, low maintenance and highly efficient. Built from weathering steel, these containers are designed to be tough and can be dropped on site by helicopters.

The system’s scorecard is so good that it could be deployed anywhere – from small, rural communities to forward operating bases, like those in Iraq or Afghanistan. Currently, the typical 600-soldier forward operating base requires a daily convoy of 22 trucks to supply the base with fuel or water and dispose of wastewater and solid waste. With few mechanical parts and a small footprint, the system is ideal for military use, Wang says.

“Currently, human wastes are typically burned in burn pits, and the wastewater is usually hauled away and dumped by local contractors,” Wang explains. “This results in high costs, security issues, potential health risks, negative environmental impacts to the hosting country and a potential negative image.

“Moreover, almost all fresh water used in the camp – including water for drinking, bathing, showering, laundry, car washing and toilet flushing ¬– is from outside sources in the form of bottled and surface water. A deployable and easy-to-use water reclamation station, which transforms wastewater into reusable water within the base, would improve the base environment, security, soldiers’ health, stewardship of foreign lands and concurrently reduce cost and fresh water demand from off-base sources.”

Current wastewater treatment options include membrane bioreactor, activated sludge, fixed film or on-site septic systems. Similar to these methods, Wang’s process uses microorganisms to break down the organic pollutants. Membrane bioreactor, activated sludge process and fixed-film process have been built using standard shipping containers, too. But that’s where the similarities end.

The membrane bioreactor process, while similar in size and quality of effluent produced, has extremely higher energy and maintenance costs, and up to 10 times more expensive parts.

“The fixed-film system, as developed by other companies, needs to be monitored and controlled constantly,” Wang says. “Plus our system is much smaller than their systems – only 20-30 percent of the size of these systems for the same treatment capacity. Our system does not use any media, which significantly reduces construction and maintenance cost.”

Wang’s system, named a baffled bioreactor (BBR) by Wang, modifies the conventional activated sludge process by using baffles to create a maintenance-free intermediate settling chamber for sludge return. It uses off-the-shelf, low-tech parts to treat wastewater at a level that exceeds federal standards. The water can be used for non-contact applications, including toilet flushing and car washing.

Although this project is focused on military needs, Wang says the small, low-maintenance and low-power system makes sense for small communities, mobile home parks, motels and even facilities in remote areas, such as highway rest areas and camps.

A few days ago, the U.S. Army approved Wang’s request to demonstrate a full-scale, company-size water reclamation station for advanced wastewater and non-potable reuse. During this project, he will also explore the feasibility of producing potable water from wastewater in emergency situations.

“A lesson learned from Hurricane Katrina is that untreated sewage can cause many health and psychological problems for displaced people,” Wang adds. “The transportable, modular baffled reactor units could even be deployed to regions where natural disasters occur to quickly prevent untreated wastewater discharge and improve hygiene.”

Mindy Limback | Newswise Science News
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests
26.11.2015 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ

nachricht Taking a molecular approach to conserving freshwater biodiversity
09.11.2015 | Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Using sphere packing models to explain the structure of forests

26.11.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Dimensionality transition in a newly created material

26.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

Revealing glacier flow with animated satellite images

26.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>