Navigation Links
Roots meshed in waste materials could clean dirty water
Date:5/5/2010

Plant roots enmeshed in layers of discarded materials inside upright pipes can purify dirty water from a washing machine, making it fit for growing vegetables and flushing toilets, according to Penn State horticulturists.

"Our global fresh water supplies are fast depleting," said Robert D. Cameron, doctoral student in horticulture. "So it is critical that we begin to look at alternatives on how we can take wastewater and turn it into a resource."

Cameron and Robert D. Berghage, associate professor of horticulture, use discarded materials and a combination of plant and bacterial communities to treat water from a washing machine and other wastewater.

According to Cameron, this design is superior to previous living treatment systems in that it requires much less space and is much more efficient at removing contaminants.

"We have shown that with this system we can take wastewater from a washing machine and remove more than 90 percent of the pollutants within three days," said Cameron. "The treated water had very low levels of suspended solids and no detectable levels of e.coli."

Cameron presented the work today (May 5) at a meeting on organic and sustainable agriculture in Havana.

The water treatment system consists of two seven-foot long plastic corrugated pipes a foot in diameter. The researchers placed these pipes upright three feet apart in a basin containing a foot of potting soil and crushed limestone.

"We planted the three feet by five feet basin at the foot of the pipes with papyrus and horsetail reed," said Cameron. "Just like in a wetland, the roots of these plants and associated bacteria clean the water as it flows under the basin surface and through the two columns."

Both culvert pipes are filled with alternating layers of porous rocks, composted cow manure, peat moss, tire crumbs, potting soil and crushed limestone.

Researchers planted vegetables and ornamental plants -- tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, basil and orchids -- in holes drilled along the length of the pipes. They then pumped about 45 gallons of wastewater from a washing machine to the top of the two pipes.

"As the dirty water trickles down the pipes, the tight mesh created by the soil, gravel and roots filters out pollutants," explained Cameron. "Additionally, bacterial colonies among the roots eat away the dissolved organic matter while layers of iron scraps or clay can be added to trap phosphorous."

By periodically replacing the plants, pollutants not metabolized but trapped, can be removed from the system, he added.

Chemical analyses of the treated water show a reduction of nitrites from 24 parts per million to just 1.9 parts per million, a reduction of more than 90 percent.

The system is also effective in filtering out boron. While boron is a necessary micronutrient for plants, it is toxic at high levels and can accumulate in the ground.

"Our gray water sample had boron levels of about 702 parts per million," said Cameron. "But after about three days of treatment, water collected from the foot of the pipes had only about 58 parts per million -- a reduction of about 92 percent. Dozens of other pollutants were similarly reduced in two to three days."

Cameron indicates that the next phase of research will focus on the beneficial reuses of the treated wastewater such as reducing a building's need for air conditioning.


'/>"/>

Contact: Amitabh Avasthi
axa47@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. How plants put down roots
2. Bilingual babies: The roots of bilingualism in newborns
3. Dung of the devil plant roots point to new swine flu drugs
4. Unique winter-hardy hibiscus has roots with AgriLife Research scientist in Vernon
5. Newly discovered snow roots are evolutionary phenomenon
6. Bolivian rainforest study suggests feeding behavior in monkeys and humans have ancient, shared roots
7. LabRoots Launches Social Networking Site for Scientists & Engineers
8. Historical increase in corn yield -- its in the roots
9. UV-B light sensing mechanism discovered in plant roots
10. Baby talk: The roots of the early vocabulary in infants learning from speech
11. The emerging story of plant roots
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Roots meshed in waste materials could clean dirty water
(Date:4/19/2016)... DUBAI , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... can be implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system ... in the biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface ... requirements of modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions ... the ID readers into the building installations offer considerable ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... 2016 BioCatch ™, the ... announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger as ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time of ... deployment of its platform at several of the world,s ... discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a winner ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... PROVIDENCE, R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics ... leadership of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., ... addition, members of the original technical leadership team, including ... Vice President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice ... have returned to the company. Dr. Bready ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical ... novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, ... been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. ... of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Lawrence, MA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... the Peel Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research ... test platform of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware design ... Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together inventors ... and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a ... discoveries to the medical community, has closed its Series ... Matthew Nunez . "We have received a ... the capital we need to meet our current goals," ... provide us the runway to complete validation on the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: