Aussie algae powered wastewater treatment system set for rural China

[Australia] – An Australian designed wastewater treatment system that uses algae to clean water could soon be deployed to farming communities in China and South East Asia.

The system was developed in 2014 by a group of Flinders University researchers led by Professor Howard Fallowfield in South Australia.

Professor Howard Fallowfield
Professor Howard Fallowfield

It has recently received approval by the South Australian Department of Health Wastewater Management.

The Flinders University model occupies about 40% of the space required by other systems and reduces the run time to 5-10 days using algae instead of fossil fuels, the university said.

This is said to allow the water to naturally treat itself by increasing the alkalinity in the water and speeds up the aeration process.

The system can receive about 12 m3/day – 14 m3/day of wastewater from local communities with the total cost ranging from $100,000-$200,000 to build.

“Now that it’s actually been independently validated and we know that it works under this set of conditions it means it can actually be rolled out,” said Flinders University lecturer Michael Taylor.

“What that means is that for a little community you can actually treat your own wastewater without ongoing contamination issues. If you were discharging into a stream, you can divert it all to one of these low cost systems and actually be able to produce safe, good quality wastewater that you may be able to irrigate crops with.”

Andy Roberts, CEO of Water Industry Alliance, said: “South Australia has gone quite a way to deal with the issue of wastewater. We are starting to get better at quantifying the benefits that we can achieve from these treatments. It’s not just about treating wastewater, which has a public health and environmental benefit, but it also has an increasing commercial benefit from irrigation as well.”


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