How Effluent Plants Turn Pee Into Drinking Water

At Biocell Water, we’re proud to sell a range of effluent plants. So how do they work?

The technology behind effluent plants can look like magic to the uninitiated. Through a long and thorough process, what starts off as wastewater can be reused over and over. Understanding how it works can help you appreciate all the more how amazing it is that science allows us to turn pee into drinking water — which we’ll probably turn back into pee and so on and so forth…

Why Do We Drink Our Pee?

It’s a valid question. Why do we need effluent plants in the first place? Why not just get rid of our wastewater and drink something else? After all, other animals don’t have this problem.

Other animals don’t have this problem because other animals don’t live in big cities. When an animal moves from place to place depositing its waste as it does so, it helps to enrich and fertilise the soil. This natural process is known as the nitrogen cycle. It’s perfectly sustainable, and it’s what humans would have done 20,000 years ago.

Around 15,000 years, the Agricultural Revolution happened. Rather than roaming from place to place, humans all over the world learnt how to farm and this allowed them to stay in one place and have a more reliable source of food. This global epiphany is why humans live in cities and animals don’t.

Jump forward to summer 1858, and London has a problem. The Thames has dried up somewhat and the waste which thousands of Londoners have deposited into the Thames is left exposed to the hot sun. In short, the city stinks. It stank so badly that this awful smell is an actual historic event referred to as The Great Stink.

The fallout from The Great Stink led to the development of sewers in London and other cities across the world. This is sometimes known as The Sanitary Movement. This process involved an element of trial and error. After we discovered that simply using sewers to move the wastewater of London a few miles down the road didn’t really solve the problem, we began to treat wastewater with effluent plants so it could be reused.

All of this is the reason why — 150 years later — we now drink our own pee.

How Do Effluent Plants Work?

Whether they are industrial plants turning an entire city’s sewage into clean drinking water or industrial effluent plants treating a business’ wastewater, the science behind effluent plants is the same in principle but different in practice.

The principle is to clean the water so it can be reintroduced to the water supply, but the practice can vary depending on the size and scale of the effluent plant. An effluent treatment plant serving a whole population uses three stages of treatment.

Primary treatment and secondary treatment work by slowing the water down, letting the heavy stuff sink to the bottom, letting the greasy stuff rise to the top, and separating those things from the water. The latter stage of secondary treatment involves adding chemicals — usually chlorine — to the water to sterilise it.

Tertiary treatment isn’t something every effluent plant does but it essentially involves further filtering. After this, the water is reintroduced to the water supply and will at some point wind up back in your taps.

Biocell Water Effluent Plants

Our container effluent plants use much of the same wastewater filtering technology to help construction sites and military camps deal with their wastewater. While our industrial effluent plants can be modified to suit whatever your business’ needs are.
Effluent plants help humans to recycle water. It’s thanks to them that we can drink water from the tap rather than pollute our oceans with millions of plastic bottles. Drinking your own pee might not sound all that great, but it’s because we do that we can flush our toilets without worrying too much about damaging the environment.

We sell, deliver, and install a wide variety of effluent plants to any location in the UK or Ireland. Contact us today for a FREE consultation and quote for your business’ effluent plant.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.