Guest Columns

When Science meets Ancient Wisdom – Wastewater Treatment

It is a well-known fact that India is known for its age-old golden wisdom. Social Media nowadays is full of facts on our past glory! While pride is a great sentiment to have we should apply modern technologies and science to ancient wisdom and see how we can build a better world for generations ahead. Let us look at how ecoparadigm, an environment consulting startup connects ancient wisdom with modern science and technologies to treat wastewater we generate daily.

Ecoparadigm

Mr.Tharun Kumar, Executive Director, Paradigm Environmental Strategies (P) Ltd.

The problem statement is something of concern to all – There are many existing technologies to treat wastewater but they all work on motors and filters, which needs huge amount of power, which is short supply in India. India is also known for its contribution to Septic Tank technologies, traditionally we all used it and our R&D team worked on harnessing this ancient wisdom to suit modern day requirements especially related to regulatory. One of the key regulatory norms is that BOD (Biochemical oxygen demand is a measure of the quantity of oxygen used by microorganisms in the oxidation of organic matter.) should be ‘less than 30’ for gardening quality and ‘less than 10’ for re-use for Toilet flush etc. Classic well-designed septic tanks can reduce the BOD levels to 70 but to reduce to ‘less than 10’ we need to leverage on modern science and technology.

To start with we used Darcy’s law and tools to design a scientific septic tank, which treats water to meet stringent environment standards. While design is an important component bugs do the actual treatment! The good old anaerobic bacteria, which lives in Septic tanks, our stomach and Cows stomach. Cows stomach was of particular interest to us as it is one of natures wonder and our team decided to combine elements of Cows stomach with of Septic tank and created the award winning DTS ecoSTP water treatment solution which is now deployed at over 100 locations in India, Kenya and N.Korea.

Lets look at how a Cow’s stomach works. Cows have four compartments called the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Now let us look at the bugs that live in cows stomach! Anaerobic bacteria are bacteria that do not live or grow in the presence of oxygen and are most commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Different sets of bacteria (ancient wisdom again, discovered by modern science) work on treat the waste, popularly known as ‘anaerobic digestion’. The anaerobic digestion process begins with bacterial hydrolysis of the input materials. Insoluble organic polymers, such as carbohydrates, are broken down to soluble derivatives that become available for other bacteria. Acidogenic bacteria then convert the sugars and amino acids into carbon dioxide, hydrogen, ammonia, and organic acids. These bacteria convert these resulting organic acids into acetic acid, along with additional ammonia, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. Finally, methanogens convert these products to methane and carbon dioxide.

Putting it all together:

Harnessing ancient wisdom (septic tanks, anaerobic bacteria, cows stomach) we created a unique patent pending wastewater treatment product called DTS ecoSTP. Lastly a word about innovation .It is really amazing – innovation can come up from the ‘intersection’ of those with multiple skills. In our office pot porri we have Architects, Environment Engineers, Civil Engineers, Geotechnical Engineers, Microbiologists and IT guys – this ‘intersection’ coupled with our diverse customers – Govt Authorities, Hospitals, Builders, Institutions sparks innovations like this.

The writer is Mr.Tharun Kumar, Executive Director, Paradigm Environmental Strategies (P) Ltd.

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