Progress with our research into slow sand filters

The next few weeks are important for our projects on slow sand filters.

One of our postgrads, Joseph Gibbs, is close to the end of his first trial testing lab-scale sand filters for the treatment of secondary domestic wastewater effluent (from the WWTP at Tuam, which is just a half an hour from Galway and is the location of NUI Galway’s EPA-funded, pilot-scale test bed facility). Joe GibbsJoe has been running two types of filters at lab-scale in the Engineering Building at NUI Galway: ‘traditional’ slow sand filters (TSSFs) and the Manz-type filters (MSSFs). He’s been testing the performance of the filters and he’s embarking on a campaign of qPCR and next-gen sequencing. To finish off the trial, we have some interesting ideas on establishing the site of coliform removal in the filters.

Another of our Galway-based postgrads, Octavi Domingo, is just about to switch the ‘on’ button on his set of filters. OctaviHis focus is on drinking water and he is using river water (from the Corrib) to feed his SSFs. Specifically, he’s interested in mechanisms of coliform removal in SSFs and will collaborate with Dr Florence Abram and Dr Conor O’Byrne at Galway on the survival, or removal, of environmentally-persistent coliforms. He will do experiments including Dr Abram’s soil-persistent E. coli. 

At the same time, we’re having a lot of fun going through the data from Sarah Haig’s project. Sarah is a PhD student based in Glasgow, where she completed her SSFs trials. SarahHaigSarah has a massive dataset from next-gen sequencing, qPCR and stable isotope probing (SIP) experiments. There will be a lot of interesting findings coming out from this soon, including on oestrogen removal, but we’re most excited about some of the unravelling of the SSF biofilm food web we’ve been able to do using DNA-SIP, which includes algae, prokaryotes, fungi, phage and protozoa.

Sarah is also collaborating with us on ideas for both Joe’s and Octavi’s experiments.

And, lastly, as part of our Transforming Waste Project plans for on-site testing of sanitation technologies in Lusaka, Zambia, we have decided to incorporate slow sand filtration with our treatment system. MSSFs have already been used in poor areas of developing countries, and Joe’s work on domestic wastewater treatment in SSFs will be useful for us on this.

Keep checking back with us for more news on this theme of our research.


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