Poo Gloo Gaia Pans

Sorry for the title, I couldn’t resist. This article is calling to Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs” fame, who makes “poo” his specialty. While this brown, er green, story isn’t our normal fare on WUWT, but I found it interesting. Public sanitation systems have done more to advance public health and longevity than any other modern convenience, and recently some eco zealot who got a guest post in the Guardian during COP16 called for “…radically abandoning the flush toilet – one of the world’s most destructive habits“. Well poo on him, maybe he needs to check out the Poo Gloo. – Anthony

Igloo-shaped ‘Poo-Gloos’ eat sewage

Growing towns can save mllions; study shows devices cut pollutants

Poo-Gloos -- inexpensive devices to extend the lifespan of sewage lagoons for towns and small cities outgrowing their waste-treatment facilities -- are half submerged as officials fill this sewage lagoon in Wellsville, Utah. The igloo-shaped devices are submerged when operating, and a new study shows they remove organic waste and other pollutants from sewage just as well as much more expensive mechanical sewage-treatment plants.

SALT LAKE CITY, January 10, 2011 – Inexpensive igloo-shaped, pollution-eating devices nicknamed “Poo-Gloos” can clean up sewage just as effectively as multimillion-dollar treatment facilities for towns outgrowing their waste-treatment lagoons, according to a new study.

“The results of this study show that it is possible to save communities with existing lagoon systems hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, by retrofitting their existing wastewater treatment facilities with Poo-Gloos,” says Fred Jaeger, chief executive officer of Wastewater Compliance Systems, Inc., which sells the Poo-Gloo under the name Bio-Dome.

Kraig Johnson, chief technology officer for Wastewater Compliance Systems, will present the study Jan. 13 in Miami during the Water Environment Federation’s Impaired Water Symposium. It also will be published in the symposium program.

Wastewater treatment in small, rural communities is an important and challenging engineering task. Proper treatment includes disinfection and the removal of unwanted pollutants. Most rural communities rely on wastewater lagoons as their primary method of treatment because they are simple and inexpensive to operate. Lagoons are large ponds in which sewage is held for a month to a year so that solids settle and sunlight, bacteria, wind and other natural processes clean the water, sometimes with the help of aeration.

But as communities grow and-or pollution discharge requirements become more stringent, typical wastewater lagoons no longer can provide adequate treatment. Until now, the only alternative for these communities was to replace lagoons with mechanical treatment plants, which are expensive to build and operate. Mechanical plants treat water in 30 days or less, using moving parts to mix and aerate the sewage, speeding the cleanup. They require electricity, manpower and sometimes chemicals.

Johnson and his research team developed the Poo-Gloo when he worked as a research assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Utah. The Poo-Gloo was designed to address the problem faced by communities outgrowing their sewage lagoons. The device provides a large surface area on which bacteria can grow, providing the microbes with air and a dark environment so they consume wastewater pollutants continuously with minimal competition from algae.

The new study outlines results of a pilot project conducted in 2009 at Salt Lake City’s Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility. Wastewater Compliance Systems obtained an exclusive license from the University of Utah to commercialize Poo-Gloos, so the devices now have been deployed in six states in either full-scale installations or pilot demonstrations. Every installation showed Poo-Gloos provide treatment that meets pollution-control requirements.

Lynn Forsberg, public works director for Elko County, Nev., recently started using Poo-Gloos in a county sewage treatment lagoon system in Jackpot, Nev., after a successful pilot test. “Our alternative was to go with a full-blown [mechanical] treatment plant that would cost about four times as much and be much more labor intensive,” he says.

How Poo-Gloos Work

This illustration shows the inner workings of a Poo-Gloo device used to increase treatment of sewage in municipal waste lagoons. Each Poo-Gloo -- sold under the name Bio-Dome -- includes four nested domes with plastic packing (wagon wheel shapes) between them to provide a large surface area on which sewage-eating bacteria grow. A hose (red) sends bubbles (gray circles) upward through the Poo-Gloo, and the air helps pull wastewater up through the device (blue arrows). A new study shows Poo-Gloos provide a relatively inexpensive alternative to mechanical sewage treatment plans for small to mid-sized towns and cities outgrowing their sewage lagoons.

Poo-Gloos use a thriving bacterial biofilm to consume pollutants. Two dozen or more igloo-shaped Poo-Gloos are installed on the bottom of the lagoon, fully submerged and arrayed in rows. Each Poo-Gloo consists of a set of four progressively smaller, plastic domes nested within each other like Russian nesting dolls and filled with plastic packing to provide a large surface area for bacterial growth.

Rings of bubble-release tubes sit at the base of every Poo-Gloo and bubble air up through the cavities between domes. The air exits a hole in the top of each dome. As air moves through the dome, it draws water from the bottom of the lagoon up through the dome and out the top.

Each Poo-Gloo occupies 28 square feet of space on the bottom of a lagoon while creating 2,800 square feet of surface area for bacterial growth. The combination of large surface area, aeration, constant mixing and a dark environment that limits algae make Poo-Gloos capable of consuming pollutants at rates comparable with mechanical plants.

The Study: How Much Poo Can a Poo-Gloo Remove?

Pollution-eating, igloo-shaped devices nicknamed Poo-Gloos sit in an unfilled sewage lagoon in Plain City, Utah, before the lagoon is filled. A new study shows the devices, sold under the name Bio-Domes, can clean up sewage as effectively as multimillion-dollar treatment plants, and thus can help small, growing towns and cities save money by using their sewage lagoons for longer periods of time before they need to build expensive sewage treatment plants.

Johnson spent time in the wastewater industry before obtaining his master’s and doctoral degrees in civil and environmental engineering. In 2002, he set about developing a product that could be used to retrofit wastewater lagoons easily and inexpensively. After seven years, with the help of fellow professors, graduate students and a lot of laboratory tests, Johnson was ready for his first field test.

Johnson built a pilot unit using a large construction dumpster welded shut so it was water-tight. The container held seven Poo-Gloos. Johnson enlisted the help of Salt Lake’s Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility to test it. The researchers ran multiple tests using untreated wastewater from the plant to determine the extent to which commonly regulated pollutants could be removed from the wastewater before discharge back to the treatment facility.

The study aimed to determine optimal operating conditions for Poo-Gloos and evaluate their performance at different water temperatures, levels of aeration, and sewage volumes and concentrations. The study found the devices consistently achieved high levels of treatment that were affected only slightly by changing water temperatures and aeration levels:

  • Biological oxygen demand – a measure of organic waste in water – was reduced consistently by 85 percent using Poo-Gloos, and by as much as 92 percent.
  • Total suspended solids fell consistently by 85 percent, and by as much as 95 percent.
  • Ammonia levels dropped more than 98 percent with Poo-Gloo treatment in warmer water and, more important, by as much as 93 percent when temperatures dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit – conditions that normally slow bacterial breakdown of sewage.
  • Total nitrogen levels fell 68 percent in warmer water and 55 percent in cooler water.

“The removal rates we saw during the pilot test are comparable to removal rates from a rotating biological contactor, which is a commonly used device in mechanical treatment facilities,” Johnson says. “We couldn’t be happier with the performance of the Poo-Gloos.”

Johnson conducted the study with Hua Xu, a postdoctoral fellow in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Utah, and Youngik Choi, a professor of environmental engineering at Dong-A University in South Korea.

There may be uses for the Poo-Gloos beyond municipal wastewater treatment.

“The bugs will adapt to consume whatever is available,” says Johnson, “In addition to the pollutants discussed in our paper, we’ve also seen great results in the consumption of other significant pollutants that I can’t discuss now because we’re in the process of filing patents. Poo-Gloos – or Bio-Domes as we call them – have a lot of potential, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.”

Johnson and his team originally nicknamed the devices Poo-Gloos because they are shaped like igloos. But as possible uses began to expand to industries beyond municipal sewage treatment, Wastewater Compliance Systems decided to sell them as Bio-Domes.

From Nevada to Alabama and Wisconsin, Poo-Gloos to the Rescue

“Every day I speak with community officials who need to upgrade their treatment facilities,” says Taylor Reynolds, director of sales for Wastewater Compliance Systems. “They come to us because they receive an engineering report recommending a $4 million to $10 million mechanical plant project that is impossible for them to pay for with their existing tax base. Not only can our Poo-Gloos or Bio-Domes help communities comply with pollution limits, but most of the projects I quote cost between $150,000 and $500,000, and the operating expenses are a fraction those at a mechanical plant.”

Each Poo-Gloo requires little maintenance and the same amount of electricity as a 75-watt bulb, putting operating costs for Poo-Gloo systems at hundreds of dollars per month rather than thousands, which is typical of mechanical treatment plants. And some communities may operate Poo-Gloos “off-the-grid” by powering them with solar or wind energy systems.

The results of the new study prompted a number of communities to abandon more expensive alternatives in favor of installing Poo-Gloos. These early adopters can be found in the Nevada town of Jackpot in Elko County, Glacier National Park in Montana, and Plain City and Wellsville in Utah. Wastewater Compliance Systems also has deployed mobile pilot Poo-Gloos in Louisiana, Alabama and Wisconsin so potential customers, engineering firms and regulators can see first-hand how well they work before they commit tax dollars to the new technology.

“We know that small communities have limited budgets,” Reynolds says. “That’s why we developed our mobile pilot units. Even when our technology has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on an upgrade project, we like to provide our customers with peace of mind in knowing that our products will solve their problems for years to come. “

###

For more information on the Poo-Gloos and Wastewater Compliance Systems, please visit: www.wastewater-compliance-systems.com

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70 thoughts on “Poo Gloo Gaia Pans

  1. Part of this is the enviro delusion that once used, water is gone. You would think they would be happy, what with the sea levels projected to rise 20 meters very soon. We can think of it as sequestering water, sort of like CO2 sequesters. pretend science is so much easier than the real stuff.

  2. interesting concept and one of those things that is so simple the why did i not think of it imediatly springs to mind. it would also have uses in factory farms where waste disposal is a major problem.

  3. Whoa!

    All the Poo-Gloos need is to have a

    “poo eaten grin” on them,

    and they’ll be perfect!

    (grin)

  4. I am truly impressed that you were able to find a comprehensible point in that Guardian Article. Most of it was like this excerpt…

    To affirm or to deny climate change supposes that we understand our planet well, that we know how it reacts – both now and for the next hundred years – and that we have the appropriate technological fix. This is plain and simple nonsense, and intolerably arrogant.

    To continue putting our trust and hope in institutions to put things right goes against all our experience and focuses our energy in the wrong place.

    To say that we can understand his point would be arrogant… But I’ll try ;-)

    We can’t say there is a problem. We can’t say that there isn’t. That would be arrogant.

    We should however fix the problem that might or night not be — despite the arrogance of having such thoughts…

    Iwe do decide to fix the problem we can;t depend on powerful institutions that should fix the (supposed or not) problem.

    We should depend on little people with no power to do anything — except we don’t have the technology to fix it — except we don;t know what to do anyway — except there might not be a problem…

    I know where my energy should go and it’s not into comprehending hopelessly arrogant fools who would tell me “that they don’t know anything so I better listen!” — to paraphrase the article I think, maybe, I dunno!

    I hope that’s clear. I did the best I could in my most non-arrogant, non-powerful fashion.

  5. Interesting. This technology could have great application in under-developed / third-world countries as well.

  6. Innovations such as this offer great contributions to both public health and the environment.

    Cc this to every local health department and state environmental regulatory agency.

    Thanks, Anthony.

  7. This just begs for a play on words, but I’m only on my second cup of coffee. It is interesting though. Amazing how much surface area was created in so little space.

  8. Just can’t get my mind around the benefit of abandoning the flush toilet. Is he advocating the return to outhouses? Digging latrines? Collecting the waste and burning it? I was under the impression that our collective sewage solutions have led to one of the cleanest, relatively disease free, times in all history.
    One thought I had while reading this article, was the possible benefit of placing these (or similar) Poo-Gloos (solar powered, of course), in the streams, lakes and ponds, surrounding our cities and towns. Not so much to compete with the natural bio-systems, but to maybe clean things up to the point that they could be more effective.

  9. As a wastewater engineer at a large “mechanical” treatment plant I think this looks like a great idea for smaller communities that have the space for lagoons. Unfortunately NGOs are continuously pushing for more advanced (and costly) treatment to remove greater percentages of organic waste, suspended solids, ammonia, and other nutrients than the Poo-Gloo removes.

  10. A well conceived enhancement to the lowly sewage lagoon.
    The innovation is the dome structure which provides much more surface area for the biofilms to settle on. That greatly improves the performance over that provided by a simple aerator.
    Provided the air bubbling out of the bio domes is not too smelly, this could be an affordable solution to the waste processing needs of feedlots. The existing waste lagoons are huge and a noxious nuisance, as well as a public health hazard when they overflow, as they are wont to after heavy rains.

  11. Yeah after reading the post in the guardian, felt like a minor headache came along, then a quote from one of the comments-

    “You mean that the hydrocarbons, extracted from fossil fuels, are returned to Mother Earth instead of being burned and polluting her atmosphere with hateful carbon dioxide.”

    That’s someone agreeing with his views and wasn’t trying to be sarcastic in anyway, I’m gonna go get a cup of tea to chill out now heh.

  12. “Poo Gloo Gaia Pans.” There should be an award for best blog post title.

    The “Poo Gloos” are an interesting idea. The idea that we should get rid of flush toilets, on the other hand, is stupid beyond belief. When I was a teenager I had a friend whose father constantly griped that “it takes a gallon of water to flush away a cup-full of piss.” I always wanted to tell him, “It’s called ‘sanitation,’ but never had the courage.”

  13. The Guardian article is a gold mine.
    “As the Brazilian writer Leonard Boff observed, activists leaving Cancún were very disappointed with the outcome; but they are determined to finally take control of the whole issue and to live their lives their own way, not in the way dictated by the market or the state.”

    So they won’t fly to the next Climate junket, i suppose. And sh*t into holes.

  14. James Sexton says:
    January 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

    This just begs for a play on words, but I’m only on my second cup of coffee. It is interesting though. Amazing how much surface area was created in so little space.
    ==================================================
    James, it’s the same thing you do with a filter on a fish aquarium.

  15. Frankly I think Reed Bed filtration systems look better, are more Eco-friendly and do the job better using the same biofilms. It’s only where the storage space to volume ratio is an issue that systems like this come into play.

  16. This has to be the dumbest idea ever. No toilets?? Are we going back to the outhouse age? I can just imagine “honey buckets” running around towns collecting poo. New York City will be out of luck since there aren’t enough “honey buckets” around to suck up all that poo.

  17. James Barker says:
    January 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

    “One thought I had while reading this article, was the possible benefit of placing these (or similar) Poo-Gloos (solar powered, of course), in the streams, lakes and ponds, surrounding our cities and towns.”

    If put in streams then I’d think hydro-power would be more reliable.

  18. Wait! Wait! Could this be REAL environmentalism? Bravo. Finally. Will the “greens” get behind this? Will they go back to championing REAL environmental advancements? My guess is, “no.” But thanks, WUWT, for the article. I, personally, love to see TRUE environmental achievements, and hope/wish for more.

  19. I recall when doctors were asked to vote for the top 10 greatest leaps in health care of all time. They chose not to vote for a drug or an operation, they voted for the sewer as number 1, followed by clean water as number 2. I found that very humbling and profounds as an environmental engineer, we often under apreciate how important the work we do is and how it avoids millions of deaths each year.

    The introduction of the sewer saved more lives and did more for our standard of living than any other development. The same applies for clean drinking water. Those two engineering based developments extending our lifespans more than any other technology.

    Some people forget that engineers do more to save their lives than most doctors ever will, and without getting so much as a thanks or a doctors salary!

    To have greenies than trying to undo all that great work is an insult to all those that die each year for LACK of clean water and sanitation!! If they want go and live in a cave let them, they will either die young or give up, as for the rest of us, leave us in peace.

  20. I am looking as I compose this at a 90 Gal Freshwater Aquarium located in our finished basement near my Desk and my wife’s Sewing Center. The Aquarium has worked continuously now for 20 years with only one replacement of a circulating pump in those years. The set up was made for our son when he was 12 and I keep the Aquarium going because 1) The Humidification of our home is welcomed and 2) peaceful fish are interesting to watch and they grow slowly.

    As to the connection with Poo-Gloo, this Aquarium uses a so called Biologic Filter ( Wet/Dry ) which is a similar concept. Water is continuously pumped from a 10 Gal sump filled with water draining by gravity after syphoning from the 90 Gal Tank into the sump where the water cascades over a chamber, sitting in the sump, filled with dozens of high surface area plastic perforated “bio balls” with about 50% exposed to the air. This biologic system has not need cleaning in 20 years. Once a month a foam filter is changed in the syphon apparatus along with a 20% water change along with a gravel cleaning and every week water is added to the Aquarium to replace water that evaporates. For 20 years the Aquarium water has remained crystal clear. Algae growth on the tank’s vertical inside surfaces never is a problem because a Plecostamous, a type of algae eating catfish, ( originally about a inch long now about 13 inches after 15 or 16 years ) scours those surfaces.

    The inventors of the Poo-Gloo I would bet got their idea from an Aquarium Biologic Filter. See: http://www.marineandreef.com/v/vspfiles/images/CPRWet_Dry2.jpg or .

    Dan Kurt

  21. stumpy says:
    January 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I recall when doctors were asked to vote for the top 10 greatest leaps in health care of all time. They chose not to vote for a drug or an operation, they voted for the sewer as number 1, followed by clean water as number 2. I found that very humbling and profounds as an environmental engineer, we often under apreciate how important the work we do is and how it avoids millions of deaths each year.

    The introduction of the sewer saved more lives and did more for our standard of living than any other development. The same applies for clean drinking water. Those two engineering based developments extending our lifespans more than any other technology.

    Some people forget that engineers do more to save their lives than most doctors ever will, and without getting so much as a thanks or a doctors salary!

    To have greenies than trying to undo all that great work is an insult to all those that die each year for LACK of clean water and sanitation!! If they want go and live in a cave let them, they will either die young or give up, as for the rest of us, leave us in peace.

    Stumpy, obviously you do not understand the Green agenda. Anything that promotes human health, procreation, and long life is bad by definition. Which is why the Greenies are so emotionally conflicted.

  22. Nice post. Sounds ideal for developing countries with huge and growing populations.
    I agree with previous comments that sanitation, clean water and improved nutrition are far more important for human longevity than anything modern medicine offers. Even antibiotics only produced a blip in the rising curve. Immunisation is the only thing to come close to public health measures.
    Genetic and stem cells advances in the next 50 years may be dramatic and raise very difficult ethical problems of selected people living 120 yrs when global population is of the order of 9billion.

  23. Sounds like this contraption would be just the ticket for those mega large pig farms in eastern NC and SC. Probably turkey farms as well.

  24. The Study: How Much Poo Can a Poo-Gloo Remove?

    Shouldn’t that be “How Much Poo Can a Poo-Gloo Chew”? ;-)

  25. recently some eco zealot who got a guest post in the Guardian during COP16 called for “…radically abandoning the flush toilet – one of the world’s most destructive habits“.

    Post-quake Haiti sounds like this writer’s idea of paradise. :-(

  26. Curiousgeorge says:

    January 9, 2011 at 11:21 am
    Stumpy, obviously you do not understand the Green agenda.

    You’re right — he doesn’t. Don’t you think that makes him an ideal candidate for greatly increased responsibility? ;-)

    I think we would both vote for him!

  27. The “Poo-Gloo” technology actually sounds like a interesting solution to an eternal problem. In fact, I would much rather we spend money researching technologies like Poo-Gloos than 50% of the “climate science” research poo …err… projects out there…

  28. Haven’t read all the comments yet, and so this may have already been offered, but on reading the poo-gloo story, one is forced to ask: ‘How much poo do a Poo-Gloo-do, if a Poo-Gloo do do poo?” :-)

  29. Dumb question: To the Poo-Gloos come pre-innoculated with bacteria, or do the bacteria just show up on their own?

  30. The potential is enormous. It is not new though; Bacteria have been used to clean very dangerous ex-chemical works. However, I am a member of our town council here in SW France and have recently built a sewerage station (hope thats correct terminology) for our village. It was made obligatory by the government some 8 years ago that all town and villages must install such a system by 2012 (I think) but at some cost to the villagers. There was a subsidy at the outset but that has been reduced each subsequent year. Our final cost has been about €300,000 with only 400 inhabitants. That’s serious money. Now it sounds to me as if this new system could have been built for €200,000 still very expensive but maybe not quite so expensive as our current system and also more easy to build and extend. So real potential, a nice piece of geniune environmentalism and reasonable on the pocket.

  31. There is a problem with submerged media systems. Like conventional return activated sludge systems it relies on biological activity to reduce nutrients. Activated sludge systems pump biologically rich sludge back into the treatment zone at a controlled rate where it is aerated and mixed with incoming sewage. Media systems rely on biological growth on surfaces and the typical boom and bust cycles of biological populations apply. Treatment is good for a while as the populations grow and then the organisms die off and release nutrients back into the water in a pulse.

    I have experience of a submerged media system that was imported from Thailand for a 4,000 person community in Northern Queensland. It is apparently widely used in Asia but in Australia it was a compliance nightmare.

    But good luck to them – cheap improvements to existing systems are always good.

    There are a couple of Australian ideas shown here –

    http://www.thesexygreenhome.com/environmentally-friendly-toilets.html

    Dual flush toilets and waterless urinals work pretty well in reducing water use.

    Cheers
    Rob

    Cheers
    Robert

  32. Many years ago ending up in Goa when the main tourists were still Indians, found that an eco-friendly system already in place to keep the small fishing village clean. Group of cubicles on the outside of the village had opening at the bottom of the back wall, large enough for a pig to get it’s snout in.

    And told off for soapy washing clothes next to the well.., very much tsk, don’t these people know anything?

    Big learning curve..

  33. Two words (three actually though I won’t include the second): Joseph (*) Bazalgette

    Now here is a man who through his efforts saved more human lives than you could shake a stick at. As is usual in the UK you get a blank stare from youngsters at school when mentioning his name (truly sad). He does have a monument tucked away on the Victoria Embankment but that’s about it.

    Here is the publicly funded “science museum” view …

    (bear in mind that he drained the then largest city on earth of its inevitable waste products)

    Despite Bazalgette’s ingenuity, the system still dumped tons of raw sewage into the Thames – sometimes with unfortunate results. The death toll from the sinking of the pleasure boat Princess Alice in 1878 would certainly have been smaller if it had sunk elsewhere on the Thames.

    [now does anyone here see how the sneaky, via the back door, watermelon infiltration world works - Joseph the serial polluter]

    teacher : now children… don’t use the internet unless it’s an authorised and thereby valid source. Oh…I don’t know… I guess that the science museum will be OK Ms. wingfoot…

    Child: Joseph Bazalgette lived from 1819 to 1891 and was a serial polluter of mother earth but luckily he died before he could cause more damage than he had already.

    Teacher: Quite right Ms. Wingfoot, two gold stars for you and your endless quest for truth. University awaits.

    Let’s all take that in for a moment… “The death toll from the sinking of the pleasure boat Princess Alice”. As compared to the fact that London was an open sewer killing tens of thousands (millions would not be out of the question) and could grow no further before Joseph said “er.. wait a minute … if we just…”. Seriously, where exactly would the “science museum” be if Joseph had been a Watermelon (or a “science museum” employee)?

    There was an episode of Seven Wonders of the Industrial World – “The Sewer King”
    telling his story (as with the others in the series – no hint of watermelon BS). Oddly enough the story is also built around the “consensus” view of the time that people died via the “Miasma” (Joseph was a believer, getting the right result for the wrong reasons) – and includes a brief view of the parallel (timewise) work of Dr John Snow (a true sceptic) beavering away with maps and statistics (and all that cr*p) against the consensus of the time. One wonders what the “science museum” will have to say about him – sorry I just can’t go back after reading Joseph’s bio. (James Watt – the father of serial carbon pollution eh?)

    Finally in this rant. I have a young daughter and, at the risk of sounding like Craven, there is absolutely no way she will be growing up in the “Bazalgette was a serial polluter” “ed-u-muk-shon system” of the UK. This country deserves everything it gets – hopefully I’ll be gone before they shiver their last in the cold and dark.

  34. Frank Lee MeiDere says:
    January 9, 2011 at 10:06 am
    “When I was a teenager I had a friend whose father constantly griped that “it takes a gallon of water to flush away a cup-full of piss.”

    Well, if it’s yellow let it mellow, it it’s brown flush it down.

  35. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10532972

    There’s oil in them sewage ponds
    Sep 19, 2008

    One man’s waste is another man’s treasure in a process developed in New Zealand that could revolutionise the fuel industry.

    A South Island company has developed a means of turning algae that grow in sewage ponds into crude oil, which can then be refined into fuels such as petrol, LPG or kerosene and aviation fuel.

    The process occurs naturally over millions of years as the algae are subject to heat and pressure, but a machine created by Solray Energy Ltd can do it in a matter of hours.

  36. Those things are going to last about 6 months before they clog up with goop.

    Why is it that scientists with no engineering experience come up with these ideas which work for a short time then fail? The current arrangement for sewage treatment has been designed to minimise clogging with biomass and junk. This has not. I can see no inspection or cleaning ports. Maybe they open clamshell-like, but the maintenance cost for cleaning out hundreds of these will suck up all the savings on ‘inexpensiveness’ and then some. Its as clear as crystal for anyone who has spent time unbogging process equipment on night shift.

    As for making the flush toilet redundant you might ask a Haitian about that one. Cholera is no joke.

  37. Im glad to of seen this. It looks like it might be the poofect thing for a small town. one must of course realize that a good idea is a turdible thing to waste. urine for a suprise if you think the greenies will like this. i can imagine their faces now, all flushed with anger.

    and my family thinks im a little SH*T

  38. WillR says: “I am truly impressed that you were able to find a comprehensible point in that Guardian Article. Most of it was like this excerpt…”

    “To affirm or to deny climate change supposes that we understand our planet well, that we know how it reacts – both now and for the next hundred years – and that we have the appropriate technological fix. This is plain and simple nonsense, and intolerably arrogant.”

    “I hope that’s clear. I did the best I could in my most non-arrogant, non-powerful fashion.”

    So you’re against people admitting that we don’t understand the Earth’s climate and shouldn’t try to fix what we don’t understand?

  39. Pat Frank says:
    January 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    “Haven’t read all the comments yet, and so this may have already been offered, but on reading the poo-gloo story, one is forced to ask: ‘How much poo do a Poo-Gloo-do, if a Poo-Gloo do do poo?” :-)”

    Well I’ve read all the comments and several commenters above have answered your question: at first, a lot. Then diddly-poo after a while.

  40. A good idea to reduce the nitrate load on sewage plants is to piss on the grass, or better still on the roots of your fruit trees. Most men tend to have no problem with that. However women think it is icky.

  41. Bruce of Newcastle says: “Those things are going to last about 6 months before they clog up with goop. Why is it that scientists with no engineering experience come up with these ideas which work for a short time then fail?”

    They’ve been in service for a lot longer than 6 months, having been under development for the better part of 10 years and fully field tested. As the post clearly states: “Johnson and his research team developed the Poo-Gloo when he worked as a research assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Utah.”

  42. Yabut… can it eat CO2?

    Regarding the wastage of water by Human Beans, probably 90%+ of city users just use it temporarily, i.e. showers, baths, toilets, cooking etc. It just gets detoured through houses before going back to nature. Watering outside does remove some water, but due to asphalt roads and storm sewers more water gets to the rivers than if there were no roads.

    Who says people don’t conserve water? The cost of water should never rise, just the cost of treating it — so anyone saying we need to raise the price of water to conserve it is full of BS. The only reason to raise the price of water is to purify it for our initial use, and cleanup it up for its return to the rivers.

  43. Public sanitation systems have done more to advance public health and longevity than any other modern convenience

    Agree entirely, my Grandfather came out from Scotland at the end of the 19th Century and helped, as a Master Plumber, set up proper sanitation in Sydney that assisted in controlling Plague outbreaks and raising public awareness. My father followed the tradition.

    In Canberra, Australia’s largest inland city with over 300k people we have a US designed sewerage system (coyly called the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre) treating water to Tertiary standard and water released into the Murrumbidgee river, is cleaner, I believe than the water upstream. Solids become fertiliser.

    As good as this idea seems to be,I find it odd that existing US communities rely on passive ponds to treat waste. and that the treatment mechanism is left to these communities to design and finance, with different treatment standards a result.

    How we treat our waste is the mark of an advanced civilisation.

  44. Odd….. A couple of weeks ago I was looking at similar systems because my daughter’s place needs its waste water management system upgrading. I came across this:

    http://www.wte-ltd.co.uk/biorock_wastewater_plant.html

    and

    http://www.wte-ltd.co.uk/sewage_treatment_options.html

    In the UK, open lagons are seriously frowned upon and do not get planning permission.
    Also there are very tight regulations about what can be done with the resultant ‘clean’ water. However, the Water Authorities seem to like this system and are more tolerant of the outflow going into watercourses than into soakaways.

    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/118753.aspx

    Certainly worth investigating deeper.

    john r

  45. Great idea. I wonder if there is a version that could work for private septic systems, for homesites where the lot won’t perc. If so that could be a big seller. I’d also like to suggest a brand name, how about calling them Ickloos?

  46. Hi all,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts regarding our press release. I’d like to address a few of the questions or doubts that are floating around out there.

    Re: Cold Weather
    WTF is absolutely right that traditionally biological systems “poop” out below 40 degrees F. We have data showing significant treatment down to 33 degrees F. In fact we’re running a pilot study in Wisconsin right now to gather as much cold weather data as possible. I’d be happy to share that with anyone that wants to see it. Also, the installation in Jackpot NV began operating in Nov 2010 and even in the face of an average water temperature of 35 degrees F throughout December as it was developing the bio-film managed to reduce the BOD 87%, TSS 77% and Ammonia 80%.

    Re: Aeration
    WTF is again spot on. It’s important to maintain the air but not as difficult as you might believe. Our systems utilize centrifugal blowers that sit on the side of the lagoon to provide the air, and as long as the blowers are serviced according to the manufacturers recommendations we’ve never had an issue.

    Re: Plugging
    That’s generally the first question out of engineers mouth’s when we introduce this to them. The poo-gloos with packing are intended only for secondary or tertiary treatment where suspended solids don’t pose a threat of clogging. We have a different design for primary ponds where there are larger “solids.” As far as the biological growth is concerned, the aeration actually provides a micro-scrubbing affect that causes old growth to slough off and settle out the bottom. We’ve performed a number of Autopsies on the poo-gloos after a year or so of operation just to see what they look like inside so that we know, and clogging is a non-issue.

    I hope that answers some of your questions and I’m happy to respond to any others you might have. Feel free to visit our site and submit requests for more information.

  47. Ian H, Jan 9 @2:36

    Instead of burning your lawn, try reaching :), into the compost bin, the biota will love the neutral liquid containing phosphorus, potassium and urea. But don’t over do it ( the frequency not the reach) and having a high fence helps.

  48. Taylor says:
    January 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm
    Hi all,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts regarding our press release. I’d like to address a few of the questions or doubts that are floating around out there.

    What?! Someone following up on a press release? Answering questions? Using humour? Treating a press release as some kind of — I don’t know — communication?!

    I’m sorry, Taylor, but you’re completely screwing with my sense of reality here.

  49. I am really glad that Taylor addressed the plugging issue. It was really nagging me as to why these the biofilms wouldn’t overgrow the device. There might also be some other limits on their thickness due to the need to exchange oxygen and nutrients between the top and bottom layers of the film. If a region started to grow over the supplies of O2 and nutrients would drop and the film would die back. In pipes, this would only happen as the pipe blockage became extreme but in this dome shape there is a lot of volume where the flow can go through so as one area is growing, another is dyeing back.

    I wonder, could the dead film flakes be collected for biomass use (either dry then burn or ferment) or would that take more energy to accomplish than would be worth it. If one was processing the solids for biomass (for energy or producing chemicals for industry that would normally require petroleum) you should be able to suck the flakes out and mix them with your solids.

  50. It’s nothing new. Domestic fish pond filters have been using a similar, simple clean-up technology for years.

  51. These things will never get off the ground, now that the article revealed that each of these evil domes will suck up as much electricity as a 75 WATT BULB-the planet can not take it any more. These engineers the world over need to just stop thinking things up and go to their outhouses for a spell.

  52. Frank:
    Sorry to cause so much mental anxiety.

    SnakeOil Barron:
    Great Thought! We’re actually doing something similar to that at our installation in Wellsville UT. They have very strict Phosphorous removal requirements, and we’re using a “luxury uptake – kill off” cycle to concentrate the phosphorous in a holding lagoon for land application. They’re spraying the concentrated effluent on a alfalfa field. Honestly, it’s quite a bit of work and isn’t going to be a great fit for every potential customer. Usually we just allow the dead growth to settle to the bottom where it is digested anaerobically.

    UK Skeptic
    You are absolutely right, we’re not claiming any revolutionary new science. Attached Growth, or fixed film science has been understood for a long time. Our innovation comes in having created a device that can be retrofitted into an existing lagoon to take advantage of the existing infrastructure, as well as achieving performance in cold waters. Our focus as a company is to save communities from having to upgrade to a mechanical plant before their tax base is able to support it, while keeping them in compliance with discharge regulations.

  53. Taylor says (January 10, 2011 at 7:12 am): we’re not claiming any revolutionary new science. Attached Growth, or fixed film science has been understood for a long time. Our innovation comes in having created a device that can be retrofitted into an existing lagoon to take advantage of the existing infrastructure, as well as achieving performance in cold waters.

    Yes, nothing wrong with being innovative – it accounts for most of our technological growth. Invention is actually a very small part (necessary, but small). Anyway, this is a great idea adapted to sewage treatment that is effective and reduces cost – all good things.

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