Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia

19.12.2016

What is a simple way to upgrade wastewater stabilisation pond systems in Africa so that the water can be reused for animal fodder production? Under the direction of Technische Universität Darmstadt, the joint project “EPoNa – upgrading wastewater ponds to generate irrigation water, using the Cuvelai-Etosha basin in Namibia as an example” has been researching into a comprehensive response to this question since the start of September.

The town of Outapi in Northern Namibia operates a 4-step pond system to treat their wastewater. When the ponds were constructed twelve years ago, Outapi had around 4,000 inhabitants, with only a small proportion having access to sewerage services.


The wastewater ponds of Outapi (Namibia) will be upgraded by joint research project "EPoNa" under the direction of TU Darmstadt.

(c) Jochen Sinn / TU Darmstadt. Picture may be used for coverage on project "EPoNa" exclusively.

Project engineer Jochen Sinn from the Wastewater Engineering Research Group at the Institute IWAR of TU Darmstadt estimates that now, more than 5,000 inhabitants in this constantly growing town are already using the sewerage system. The produced wastewater passes through a succession of four ponds. The suspended solids sink to the bottom, where they are broken down by microorganisms, and the sun’s ultraviolet light disinfects the water.

But the system is so heavily overburdened and now silted up, that the originally constructed evaporation pond keeps overflowing. At the same time, the community is facing a problem of fodder shortage towards the end of the dry season lasting around nine months. The lack of water means that they can no longer cultivate enough fodder crops, so if the rain does not come, they have to slaughter livestock as a matter of necessity. The Town Council made use of its contact from the earlier CuveWaters wastewater project (www.cuvewaters.net) and approached the Institute IWAR to solve both problems.

As described by project manager Prof. Dr. Susanne Lackner, head of the Wastewater Engineering Research Group at the TU’s Institute IWAR, “It is about finding a simple way to upgrade the existing ponds so that the wastewater can be used to irrigate fodder crops”.

Different pre-treatment variants are investigated; firstly using an anaerobic biological process and then a mechanical micro-strainer. Guiding walls in the pond will ensure better flow control and an effluent filter will improve the water quality with regard to solids, algae and hygiene.

“These basically known methods are being combined for the first time and adapted for use under the constraints that exist in Africa”, explains Susanne Lackner. One of the two “treatment lines” will initially be left in its present state, to act as a comparison for gauging the effect of the modifications. In parallel with upgrading the ponds, the Hochschule Geisenheim University will carry out tests to find the most suitable low-cost irrigation technique, as well as testing different crops and cultivation methods for suitability. If the concept proves effective, the entire plant can be converted, and the town as operator will be able to start extensive, all year round irrigation of fodder crops with wastewater sooner rather than later.

The “EPoNa” joint research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to the tune of almost 2.6 million euro. It brings together the scientific and technical expertise of six project partners from different fields. Aspects of plant engineering and economic operation will be taken into consideration, as will irrigation techniques, socio-ecological approaches, or the question of which crops are suitable for cultivation with the aid of treated process water. The impact on livestock and living conditions of the people is also included in the considerations. TU Darmstadt is coordinating the project and is also focusing directly on matters of water analysis and quality assurance. Additionally the project will generate student projects and act as a practical example for teaching.

Not only water is reclaimed in the EPoNa facility. “What is really exciting is that German wastewater treatment plants spend a lot of money and effort eliminating nitrogen and phosphorous from the wastewater, whereas here, we want to use them specifically for agriculture”, explains Susanne Lackner.

“Not only do we retain the resource of water itself, we also retain essential nutrients as fertiliser.”
The concept is based on a holistic approach and it should be transferable to other countries in the region. “There has been only little exploration of the concept of reuse, i.e. recycling water, especially in arid countries.” But this is an approach with enormous potential, especially with regard to climate change. “Water is a resource that is far too valuable to simply flush away”, says Jochen Sinn.

Background:
The “EPoNa” joint research project will run until the end of August 2019 and is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to the tune of almost 2.6 million euro. It is expected that the design and upgrading will be completed in summer 2017, when the plant will start operation. Taking part in the project along with Technische Universität Darmstadt (coordination) are Hochschule Geisenheim University, IEEM gGmbH of Witten/Herdecke University, the ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research Ltd., the Aqseptence Group, and JBG Gauff Ingenieure.

Contact for press inquiries:
Prof. Dr. Susanne Lackner
Tel.: 06151/16-20301
E-mail: s.lackner@iwar.tu-darmstadt.de

Dipl.-Ing. Jochen Sinn
Tel.: 06151/16-20308
E-mail: j.sinn@iwar.tu-darmstadt.de

MI No. 87e/2016, sip

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.epona-africa.com Project Website

Silke Paradowski | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.tu-darmstadt.de/

Further reports about: BMBF Engineering Research Namibia crops research project

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

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: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>