Is Antarctica’s sewage problem solved?27 July 2016
Researchers at Victoria University have designed a high-tech wastewater treatment system that can convert effluent into clean water. Currently housed in two shipping containers in Hobart, the system is set to be shipped to Davis Station in Antarctica this summer.
The system has been developed in response to research which found that sewage from scientific bases in Antarctica is contaminating the ocean off the coast. The sewage is also affecting fish, seals, penguins and other marine creatures.
Director of Victoria University’s Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, Professor Stephen Gray, is behind the advanced wastewater treatment and says the converted effluent will have minimal impact on the marine environment when discharged into the ocean.
He says the project uses a combination of water treatment technologies to handle the specific challenges on the icy continent. “The system’s designed to function in rugged conditions, be simple to operate, have low maintenance needs and require a minimal amount of chemicals to
run it,” he says.
The system, which uses macerated waste currently being pumped out to sea, can also produce drinkable water. Even better, recycling wastewater could save about 70 per cent of the energy currently used to make drinking water at Davis Station. However, research is currently being conducted to find out just how open expeditioners are to drinking recycled water.
The system is currently being tested at TasWater’s wastewater treatment plant and “can be operated remotely from Australia during the harsh Antarctic winter,” says Professor Gray.