On water sewage treatment

Nature provides us with an unimaginable number of lessons on how to treat our sewage water. We want to incorporate this in our recycle center's design. Here's how!

Water is the source of all life on Earth. Without it, no living being can survive. Water and the process of purifying it lies at the very heart of our design. As Nature is the greatest engineer, we let ourselves be inspired by its ingenuity. We give sewage water a second life by purifying and processing it into useful sludge and clean water. The sludge can serve as a fertilizer for crop lands, thus lowering the demand for chemical agents such as nitrate and ammonia. The water is treated in a process consisting of multiple steps in series, all of which find their roots in biological phenomena.
As a first step, debris and other macroscopic contamination will be removed from the water by guiding it through a series of filters. As the water progresses through these filters, their mazing will be finer, until almost all macroscopic particles have been filtered out. The filters we will designing for this stage are all inspired on the baleen filters that can be found in whales. Whales use their baleen teeth to filter out plankton and other small edible organisms. They feed by letting the water flow in, and by a movement of their tongue, flow out again through their baleen teeth, leaving only their food behind. These filters have been proved to be very effective and are, indeed, already as patented products on the market.
In a second step, the water will be further purified by a mechanism that mimics the strout’s technique to hold steady in a violent or turbulent river stream. In order to hold steady in these currents, water, entering through the stout’s mouth, will be forced in ever-tightening vortices and finally exits through the gills. Much in this way, a vortex generator will force the contaminated water to swirl in ever smalling vortices. As a consequence, contamination and bubbles will be forced in a separate column at the center of the spiraling swirl. The column can now easily be removed (by e.g. sucking out the contamination and bubbles).
The third step is so much about mimicking nature as it is about using nature to help further purify the water. In an anaerobic digestion process, anaerobic microbes will convert the organic contamination in what is called an ‘activated sludge’. This sludge can then be easily separated from the water by mechanical means.
The fourth and final step brings together human waste and mother Nature in a fascinating effort to work together as a water purifying agent. This is achieved through the use of floating islands, made of non-toxic human waste (e.g. compressed PET bottles), and planted with fine flowers and plants. The plants’ roots filter the water in a final stage and will make it pure enough for human consumption. The floating gardens are a joy for the eye and remind the visitor of a picnic in the park or a midsummer’s day at the pond.

De Turck