These igloo-shaped devices uses bacterial bio-film to clean up wastewater pollutants faster and more efficiently than treatment plants.
Unless you're using a composting toilet, chances are you stop thinking about what happens to human waste as soon as it swirls down that convenient little drain. No one likes to see, talk about, or smell poop, but it's a fact of life and it's got to go somewhere.
Most of the time, it ends up in massive sewage treatment plants that use powerful chemicals and a lot of human labor (that's right, you're not the last one to see it) to "treat" the water in hopes of producing an environmentally-safe fluid waste stream as well as sludge (the solids) that usually end up as crop fertilizers (yum!).
In rural communities, these giant treatment plants are too expensive and inconvenient to run, so the sewage is instead funneled into aerated lagoons where the more natural processes of oxidation and microbial action break down the waste over a 5-10 day period. That's a long time to wait if you've got more sewage pouring in every day.
The folks at Wastewater Compliant Systems in Utah were convinced that there was a more affordable and efficient way of treating wastewater, which is why they invented the Bio-Dome treatment system (or Poo-Gloo, as they were affectionately nicknamed).
The bio-domes use approximately 1/3 the energy of a comparable fine bubble diffuse and 1/10 the energy of a surface area aerator while still maintaining a superior level of performance. Because of the low energy needs, it is possible to design a bio-dome system that is 100 percent powered by solar, wind, or tidal energy.
Gizmag explains how the domes work:
The Poo-Gloos work in clusters, with two dozen or more arranged in rows fully submerged at the bottom of the lagoon. Each Poo-Gloo consists of four concentrically nested plastic domes filled with plastic packing to provide a large surface area for bacterial growth. Rings of bubble-release tubes sit at the base of every Poo-Gloo and bubble air up through the cavities between domes. The air exits a hole in the top of each dome. As air moves through the dome, it draws water from the bottom of the lagoon up through the dome and out the top.
After experiencing success with initial pilot tests in municipal settings, the Poo-Gloo creators realized they could implement their product in a variety of different settings where water contamination or aeration was an issue. They've since expanded the technology to work in industrial, aquaculture, and impaired water situations as well.
Image Credits: Wastewater Compliance Systems