Activated Sludge

Imagine you are on a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is circling around a box of pizza. Every time you get close enough, you take a slice of pizza. If the conveyor belt moves too fast, you can’t grab the pizza. But if it’s too slow, you’ll starve and the pizza won’t be nice and hot anymore and it might even start to grow mold. This is how the activated sludge process was explained to me in my first Environmental Engineering lecture many moons ago.

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A simplification of the activated sludge process.

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Running Water

For my friend James, running water is a soothing noise. For me, gushing water is the definition of aggravation. I can’t help but think of all the other uses for clean water besides going down the drain, while someone brushes their teeth in the mirror. But all this talk about water brings back a memory.

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Aquamarine movie gif from Blingee.

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Killer Soap

As part of a recent assignment I was asked to look into the effect of soap on the environment. What I found was a freaky subculture of soap activists and an opposing subculture of people who think soap is practically Agent Orange. I knew I had to post on this because the viewpoints on the internet are far and few between, and a poor soul like myself would get uber-confused just trying to determine what kind of chemicals are in soap!

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Lush is my all-time favorite place to get soap. Products here are expensive, but they make the best treat-yourself and mother’s day gifts. Image from Pinterest.

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Ozonation

Most sources on the internet state that ozonation water treatment dates back to the 1800s. The truth is that ozonation could only take place once electricity was discovered, so ozonation as a water treatment method wasn’t studied until the 1840s. The most basic ozonation system includes a transformer, circuit, and water. Take caution if you purchase or own such devices as ozone causes lung damage, and beware that water and electricity are a deadly combination.

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The inside of an ozone generator. Photo from CureZone.

 

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Simple Solar Water Heating

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Photograph of a solar water heating system from My Plumber CA.

Black tarp, plywood, plexiglass, tubes, clamps, and a bucket is all you need to make a thermosiphoning Simple Solar Water heater according to Renewable Energy UK. This set up looks a lot like a maze. Except instead of a little ball, water shoots up through the small space between the plexiglass and the tarp. As it heats up, the water passes over the hot black tarp surface, disinfecting it. It travels upwards (known as thermosiphoning) as the temperature increases which increases the flow and therefore gives pollutants in the water a longer time to decay.  The tubes connect the water in the bucket to the “maze” and are clamped in place. This setup is an estimated $30 but can also be made out of recycled parts. Some designs attach the water tank directly to the “maze” without using tubes. Shown below is a Simple Solar Water Heater in Pakistan

Kataka Seed

 

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Kataka tree image from Brahm Ayurved.

Kataka Seed. What is it? It comes from the Clearing Nut Tree and is sometimes used in India as a coagulant. What does that all mean? Coagulation can be compared to ion solvation in water. Essentially, the coagulant will bond to the suspended particles in the water that cause it to be muddy, and settle out the particles at the bottom of the water, allowing the clean water to be taken from the top. There’s a lot of existing research on this because the method of using crushed Kataka seeds to line water pots and other containers has been around since the dawn of written text. Here is a link on more reading.

Water from Air

Lima, Peru is said to have nearly one hundred percent humidity. That means that this major city located in a desert with less than one inch of rain per year has air that is completely saturated on the most humid days. Still, over 18 percent of the Peruvian population lacks safe water, and around 32 percent are not equipped with modern day sanitation.

Image from Big Think.

Using inverse osmosis filtration and electricity, the University of Engineering and Tech of Peru developed a billboard that filters, condenses, and cleans water from air. The billboard can produce almost 100L of clean water per day. I hope that soon all billboards in Peru have this feature, and that the plans for building and modeling similar products are released!