A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Friday, January 7, 2011

Not the Kitchensink Again

This week had some encouraging articles on water reuse. First, this article from Science Daily clouds the issue on the kitchensink greywater issue where "...researchers in India have now carried out a study of various waste water filtration systems for kitchen waste water and found that even the most poorly performing can produce water clean enough for horticultural or agricultural use".

The team compared cross-flow microfiltration (CMF) with tubular ceramic membranes in single channel and multichannel configurations. Biotreatment involved using activated sludge or an adsorptive treatment based on the prepared dried roots of Eichhornia crassipes, an aquatic weed that grows well in polluted water. The researchers found that, as one might expect, a 19-channel ceramic membrane performed better in terms of permeate quality than a single-channel filter. In terms of BOD (biological oxygen demand), COD (chemical oxygen demand), turbidity, TSS (total suspended solids), microfiltration of the waste water treated with adsorbent appeared to be most promising compared with other the approaches tested. In that approach, 98% removal of BOD and 99% removal of COD were seen. The quality of the treated water was found to be fit for use in horticulture and irrigation, the team concludes.


Second, this article describes the *energy* that can be developed from wastewater where these researchers "...note that sewage treatment plants in the United States use about 1.5 percent of the nation's electrical energy to treat 12.5 trillion gallons of wastewater a year. Instead of just processing and dumping this water, they suggest that in the future treatment facilities could convert its organic molecules into fuels, transforming their work from an energy drain to an energy source. Based on their research, they estimate that one gallon of wastewater contains enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for five minutes".

I had a sustainability expert contact me the other day about how to reduce an organization's water and energy footprint. The answer - reuse the water they already used. He seemed shocked that the answer might be so simple.

Commingling colored waters can lead to some pretty artistic ways to resolving vexing environmental issues. Sustainability is like an artist's canvas. How the colors of water are spread around determine whether the work is a masterpiece or a routine solution developed by "color-by-numbers". Be bold - embrace the spectrum.  

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