Australian wastewater treatment system uses algae to clean water

A modern wastewater treatment system that uses algae to clean water could soon be deployed in China and South East Asia to increase irrigation efficiency.

The South Australian Department of Health Wastewater Management has recently given its approval for the new system, which was developed by Flinders University researchers led by professor Howard Fallowfield in 2014.

The new model is claimed to be faster, smaller and more efficient than existing traditional systems, reported Water Online.

Flinders University lecturer Michael Taylor was quoted by Water World as saying: "Now that it's actually been independently validated and we know that it works under this set of conditions it means it can actually be rolled-out.

"Water can naturally clean itself by increasing the alkalinity present in it."

"What that means is that for a little community you can actually treat your own wastewater without ongoing contamination issues.

"If you were discharging into a stream, you can divert it all to one of these low cost systems and actually be able to produce safe, good quality wastewater that you may be able to irrigate crops with."

The existing wastewater systems need an intensive aeration sequence and uses outboard motors to oxygenate the water. Furthermore, these models can take up to 65 days to complete treatment.

The Flinders University model covers around 40% of the space needed by other systems, while reducing the run-time to five to ten days due to using algae instead of fossil fuels.

Water can naturally clean itself by increasing the alkalinity present in it. This can also quicken the entire aeration process, which enables aerobic bio-degradation of pollutants.

The Flinders model can receive 12,000l to 14,000l of wastewater, and is capable of working fast enough to reduce the amount of evaporation that occurs during treatment.

Following regulatory approval, the system is being targeted for use by farming communities of South East Asia as this region experiences hot summers, which increases evaporation.