Taking the waste out of wastewater

Engineer, Michael Packer, in the Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant built inside two shipping containers.
Engineer, Michael Packer, in the Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant built inside two shipping containers. (Photo: Eliza Grey)

An advanced wastewater treatment plant will be installed at Davis research station next winter to process human and kitchen waste into drinking quality water.

Australian Antarctic Division Engineer, Michael Packer, said the $1.5 million dollar plant is self-contained, low maintenance and designed to operate remotely (see Australian Antarctic Magazine 30: 2-3, 2016)

The wastewater will undergo a series of physical and chemical processes to produce water that exceeds the Australian and World Health Organisation drinking water guidelines. Once installed, it will be the best treatment system in Antarctica.

The advanced plant, built inside two shipping containers, has been trialled in Hobart over the past two years. While there are no current plans to use the purified water for drinking, it will ensure the water discharged into the marine environment has a negligible impact.

Specialised tradespeople will install the advanced plant over winter, with commissioning scheduled for late 2018. Advanced plants will be built at Australia’s other Antarctic stations in the future.

The plant was built by the Antarctic Division’s engineers and tradespeople, with funding, research, design and testing input from academia and industry partners, including the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, Victoria University, the University of Melbourne, Veolia Waste, TasWater and AECOM.