written by: Jayant R Row
• edited by: Lamar Stonecypher
• updated: 7/3/2010
Waste water treatment requires tanks and long settling times that are not conducive to portability. Newer techniques using stainless steel screens and clay beads have helped to reduce these requirements so that portability becomes a possibility.
slide 1 of 2
Wastewater Treatment and the Need for Portable Units
Wastewater treatment normally requires a number of settling tanks, which require the waste water to be treated to be retained in them till the entire process is completed. This requires space and more or less permanent structures. Thus the treatment of wastewater, for mobile homes or other temporary requirements has therefore followed the chemical route for treatment. This treatment, while being effective, has generally been at high cost and only used in temporary situations where no other method of disposal is possible.
Recent developments, however, have led to the introduction of compact units that can be easily transported even by helicopter if necessary. These units can then be readily connected to outhouses, kitchens, or other residential units and the wastewater treated to required norms. The technology uses stainless steel screens and pressure filters to remove the solids. The wastewater is then further treated biologically using bacteria to degrade the waste in the water. These bacteria are grown on media consisting of clay beads. This allows a lot of bacteria to be grown in the small spaces of the beads that combine with the wastewater and break down the waste water biologically consuming any organic matter.
Sludge is formed through this process and this sludge can be disposed of like any other solid waste. One of the ideas for this is to use the sludge as manure for agricultural purposes. These portable wastewater treatment plants have been designed to treat up to 100,000 liters per day of wastewater which can easily cater to a population of about 500 people.
Other Technologies for Portable Wastewater Treatment Plants
Similar portable wastewater treatment plants have also been designed for industrial waste where the reuse of water is essential to cut down on costs or because of availability problems. These plants use chemical and other patented products to treat the waste water and allow it to be reused in the industrial process. The oil industry has made extensive use of such plants.
Other technologies developed the use of ozone for the treatment in portable plants. The benefit of such plants has been that there are no solid residues of any kind and the resultant wastewater can be safely discharged on the surface. These plants require the use of power for creating the ozone and have been containerized for easy transport. Such treatment plants are largely in use for construction camps and the like which are very temporary in nature and require to be shifted at periodic intervals.
Wastewater treatment plants that use extended aeration and techniques to enhance biological contact have been developed by Precision Drilling to handle volume requirements that can vary depending on the population of industrial and other camps. Most of these units are skid mounted allowing for easy transport and lifting from location to location. The company designs units according to specific requirements and will also provide effluent testing to ensure the efficiency of their treatment processes.
Portable wastewater treatment plants will generally be well-insulated steel containers (about the size of shipping containers) that are very durable and equipped with easy lift lugs and other skid mechanisms which enable easy placing without any foundation or other work required. This sort of construction allows complete portability and use in the roughest of conditions. Standards of treatment allow water to be directly used for forest irrigation or allow the treated water to be directly used for industrial operations as in oil drilling. The treated water can also be recycled and used again in toilets. Most of these plants have capacities which do not require any removal of sludge or other material for months at a time. So cleaning needs to be done only when the unit is about to be shifted to the new location where it is to be installed.
Army camps, oil drilling camps, road construction and other forest or temporary set ups are very prime candidates for such portable wastewater treatment plants. They have also found extensive use in emergency situations like aftermaths of hurricanes, earthquakes, or other disasters that require urgent rehabilitation of facilities.