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E! 3105 HYGICLAIR C100

A fully mobile, low energy, organic waste purification unit has been developed by EUREKA project E! 3105 HYGICLAIR C100 which can effectively treat human waste in isolated, temporary accommodation such as refugee camps, following crisis situations. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2006 alone, 20.8 million people have been forced to flee persecution or the violence of war to seek refuge in neighbouring countries or in different areas of their own countries. Since World War II, Médecins Sans Frontières puts this figure at over 100 million people. The public health consequences of armed conflict and population displacement have been well documented during the last 30 years and poor sanitation is one of the major determinants of high death rates among the affected populations.

The spread of bacteria through poor waste management can quickly become fatal problems in areas of conflict which involve the displacement of civilians or deployment of soldiers. The provision of sanitation has been shown to be an intervention that is more effective than most medical programmes.

"Because of its mobility and its modularity, the system can be used for gatherings in isolated places. It can equally be used for the specific treatment of effluents in isolated zones such as for the breeding of animals."

Jean-Louis Faverot, member of the Conseil de Surveillance, Sanitec SAS, France

The system developed by the Austrian and French partners of EUREKA project E! 3105 can cater for populations of 100 to 1800 people and be left in place for weeks or months. It uses biological processes to remove contaminants from human waste. The purpose is to produce a generally homogeneous treated effluent and a solid waste or sludge which are both suitable for discharge or reuse back into the environment.

There are several general stages. First, the effluent stream is pumped through a metal grating that retains heavier matter. Sand, grease and solids are separated from the wastewater and grease is aerated to prevent it fermenting.  Waste from chemical toilets or basic latrines is sent by means of a measuring pump, to a separate tank for receiving faeces.

The sludge is then allowed to pass through to a series of cascading tanks which degrade the biological content of the sewage and stabilise the waste that is derived from human waste, food waste, soaps and detergents. "This reproduces in miniature the larger systems that are used in cities," according to Jean-Louis Faverot member of the Conseil de Surveillance for French project partner Sanitec SAS. It is done by a series of aerobic biological ‘activated sludge’ processes, which reduce the amount of organic matter and the number of disease-causing micro-organisms present in the solids. For this to be effective, the biota requires both oxygen and a substrate on which to live. The oxygen is provided by an adjustable soundproof rotary piston compressor, which can be controlled according to the load.

In the presence of oxygen, bacteria rapidly consume the organic matter and convert it into carbon dioxide. Finally, the neutralised biological solids are then recycled through the system or pumped into a holding tank, and the treated water is disinfected.

The water and effluent flowing through the system is sufficiently clean enough to be discharged through a soak-away dug in the ground, or can used for the irrigation of a golf course, greenway or park. The processes in the treatment plant are designed to mimic the natural treatment processes that occur in the environment. If not overloaded, naturally occurring bacteria in the environment will feed on the organic contaminants, and the numbers of disease-causing micro-organisms will generally be reduced by natural environmental conditions such as predation, or exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The water produced through the system is not of drinking quality. Very low levels of certain contaminants in wastewater, such as hormones from human birth control pills and from animal husbandry, and synthetic materials such as phthalates that mimic hormones in their action, can have an unpredictable adverse impact on the natural biota and potentially on humans if the water is re-used for drinking water.

"Without EUREKA support, neither our Austrian partner, nor Sanitec, could have researched and produced the prototype or carried out the tests which had to be undertaken."

Jean-Louis Faverot, member of the Conseil de Surveillance, Sanitec SAS, France

The system of purification tanks is housed in a portable standard 20 ft container which can be quickly loaded and mobilised by truck, plane or ship. Each of these containers can manage 75 litres of effluent per inhabitant per day, catering for up to 100 people. Connected in parallel, they can cater for an overall population of 1800. The containers have a low energy consumption of 35 kWh of energy per day and can also be configured for remote monitoring. The container sides are heat insulated enabling the plant to operate at very low temperatures. The system runs almost automatically. Controls are fully automatic for sludge aeration, recycling, stabilisation and flow control. It needs about an hour of simple maintenance each week.

The project took the French company Sanitec and two Austrian firms, Oko and Aim (Allegmeine Industrie-Montagen) 24 months to complete, and finished in September 2006. "Because of its mobility and its modularity, the system can be used for gatherings in isolated places" says Jean-Louis Faverot. "It can equally be used for the specific treatment of effluents in isolated zones such as for the breeding of animals."

The first order of units will be supplied to the French army for use in a camp of 2,500 men, by the beginning of 2008. "Without EUREKA support, neither our Austrian partner, nor Sanitec, could have researched and produced the prototype or carried out the tests which had to be undertaken," stresses Faverot.

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