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Univ. Engineers Develop New Sewage Treatment Device

PooGloos (Wastewater Compliance Systems Inc.)

(Wastewater Compliance Systems Inc.)

Research engineers at University of Utah in Salt Lake City have developed and commercialized an alternative device to help growing communities deal with sewage treatment. The device, known as Poo-Gloos because of their igloo-like shape (pictured right), supplement wastewater lagoons often used for sewage treatment, particularly in small, rural towns.

Kraig Johnson and research colleagues at University of Utah developed the device while Johnson was a civil and environmental engineering faculty member. Wastewater Compliance Systems, where Johnson is chief technology officer, obtained a license from the university to commercialize Poo-Gloos, although they are marketed under the name Bio-Domes.

The the device is designed to provide growing communities an inexpensive, yet still effective method to treat sewage. Most rural communities rely on wastewater lagoons as their 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.

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.

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. 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, using the same amount of electricity as a 75-watt bulb. The company says 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 devices have been deployed in six states as full-scale or pilot installations, where they all meet local pollution-control requirements.

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