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 Blacklists Protect the Rainforest
24.09.2015 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Small Alga – Great Effect
22.09.2015 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie (ZMT)

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: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

Im Focus: High-speed march through a layer of graphene

In cooperation with the Center for Nano-Optics of Georgia State University in Atlanta (USA), scientists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität have made simulations of the processes that happen when a layer of carbon atoms is irradiated with strong laser light.

Electrons hit by strong laser pulses change their location on ultrashort timescales, i.e. within a couple of attoseconds (1 as = 10 to the minus 18 sec). In...

Im Focus: Battery Production: Laser Light instead of Oven-Drying and Vacuum Technology

At the exhibition BATTERY + STORAGE as part of WORLD OF ENERGY SOLUTIONS 2015 in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT and for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS will be showing how laser technology can be used to manufacture batteries both cost- and energy-efficiently.

In the truest sense, it’s all about watts at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS and the Aachen-based Fraunhofer...

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...
All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Graphene teams up with two-dimensional crystals for faster data communications

06.10.2015 | Information Technology

Laser-wielding physicists seize control of atoms' behavior

06.10.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Flipping molecular attachments amps up activity of CO2 catalyst

06.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>