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Scientists Incorporate Ecological Processes to Streamline Agricultural Wastewater Treatment

August 02, 2018 |

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“The quest to develop greener and more affordable methods to treat wastewater has taken a new, innovative twist. A team of international scientists, led by water engineering experts from the University of Exeter, has pioneered an innovative new method to incorporate ecological processes to allow ‘green’ water treatment facilities.

The ground-breaking technique centres around creating a distinctive water system that uses both artificial and natural systems, incorporated within the treatment pipeline, to transform potentially harmful elements such as carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen from  into  and materials.

The system, called REPURE, has the great potential to revolutionise wastewater systems used for agriculture and energy production worldwide in a sustainable manner, the researchers say.

The study is published in leading scientific journal Science Advances on 1st August 2018. Professor Xu Wang, co-author of the paper and part of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems said: “Existing design schemes for wastewater systems focus merely on the technologies. If the system design could benefit from the abilities of nature, it could ensure infrastructure development within ecological constraints and could maximise other benefits..

…At present, removing pollutants from  requires a huge amount of energy. Recent figures showed that in the US alone, it accounted for around 3.4% of energy consumption—making it the third largest energy consumer in the country. In addition, recent estimates point out that approximately 20% of the global demand for phosphate could be met by recovering phosphorus from waste.

The researchers believe that the new REPURE  would allow wastewater to be treated without the need for any energy at all, and also significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the systems, as well as provide attractive feedstocks for productions of renewable , fertilizers, biopolymers and other green chemicals…”

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