Researchers launch study into novel wetland treatment
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) have embarked on a €1.1M two- year study to tackle problems associated with constructed wetlands, systems which act as biological filters by removing pollutants from sewage and wastewater.
The study will develop and trial modular autonomous reed bed installations (ARBI) that would include an automatic control system capable of measuring − and reducing − the rate of any clogging.
Constructed wetlands, which usually consist of saturated gravel media with water-loving plants growing in them, often become clogged. This affects their efficiency and can result in untreated water entering water courses.
Once clogged the wetland has to have the gravel removed and cleaned or replaced, which is expensive for operators.
The researchers believe the new system would also be able to make automatic adjustments to optimise environmental conditions, thus increasing water treatment efficiency and system longevity.
Water quality monitoring sensors and cutting-edge magnetic resonance clogging sensors will monitor the reed bed and adjust parameters including temperature, aeration and effluent delivery point to optimise treatment and minimise clogging. The modular nature of ARBI will allow easy extension or reduction of treatment capability and replacement of clogged sections.
As well as improving water quality and encouraging biodiversity, the EU-funded project aims to save operators significant amounts in installation and repair costs. The new system could also be used by smaller industrial companies with low waste water flow rates or individual houses and small housing developments
The study also involves Spain’s Universitat Politecnica De Catalunya and industrial partners ARM, Lab-Tools, Lightmain Company, Danish company OxyGuard International, and Romania's Technosam.
Dr Rob Morris, a researcher in NTU’s School of Science and Technology, said: “The average lifetime of a bed is eight to ten years but we hope that ARBI will double this period. This clogging can have significant repercussions, both environmentally in terms of water quality, and financially for the operators who need to refurbish the reed beds on a regular basis.
"Our system could be used as an alternative to existing passive wetland treatment systems, offering a smaller footprint alternative with greater longevity, and minimal operator attendance and input.
“It offers consistent water quality treatment with reduced lifetime costs and increased biodiversity in an attractive low maintenance unit.”
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