Asia Pacific Cities Summit header image

Here’s a little information on the innovations we showcased at the 2019 Asia Pacific Cities Summit. If you’re keen to find out more, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our Innovation Team on the details below, or follow along for updates on our LinkedIn.

Seaweed production as a nutrient offset

What can be done with seaweed, and why is a water utility so keen on farming it?

As a part of our innovation program, and in partnership with the Sunshine Coast University, we’re currently exploring options to farm seaweed in Moreton Bay, to assist the balance of nutrients in our waterways. Nutrients are naturally abundant in the environment but are also a by-product of human activity. They can enter our waterways through sediment, effluent from sewage treatment plants, and agricultural and industrial run-off.

Seaweed naturally feeds off these nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus. It’s also the largest marine crop in the world, but is not yet grown commercially in Australia. However, we’ve found that the Queensland coastline is the perfect setting for a new seaweed industry, with ample light, warm water, and state-of-the-art aquaculture facilities, partnered with smart industries.

Seaweed production in Moreton Bay has the potential to become an alternative nutrient offset in our waterway. This innovation aims to conduct the first Australian trial of seaweed production in Moreton Bay. If successful, this could lead to utilising aquaculture as an offset for nutrient releases to waterways.

You can read more information on Nick’s (Sunshine Coast University) seaweed study here.

Anammox and Wastewater Treatment

We’re the first in Australia to nurture anammox bugs into a booming farm. These superbugs help with the treatment process by doing the hard work naturally, so we can save on chemical and energy use. Anammox is a unique microorganism that creates a shortcut in the nitrogen removal process.

Unlike the bacteria used in the conventional wastewater treatment process, anammox uses less oxygen and doesn’t require carbon as an additional food source. This means: fewer chemicals, increased energy efficiency, increased plant capacity and lower operating costs.

Advanced Algae Treatment

Algae are very simple microscopic plants that grow in water. They form the base of the aquatic food chain, and thrive in nutrient-rich waters like sewage, animal wastes and industrial effluent. When algae are introduced into wastewater, they not only purify it, but also create biomass and oils, able to be used for fuel, food, feed, and other products.

Algae are fast growing, and can double their numbers every few hours, which means it can be harvested daily, and have the potential to produce a volume of biomass many times greater than that of our most productive crops on land.

Like any other plant, algae also consume carbon dioxide (CO2) as they grow; releasing oxygen (O2) for the rest of us to breathe. It is estimated that approximately 50% of the oxygen we breathe originates from algae. Due to both the environmental and economic benefits of algae based wastewater remediation, algae will play an important role in future sustainable wastewater treatment.

We’re testing here in these algae raceways to find out what conditions they like best. In the future, we’re planning to introduce algae-based treatment at some of our regional plants. It’s a low-cost solution that’s ideally suited to areas with small populations. And best of all, it’s great for the environment because the process also generates useful by-products that can be used as fertiliser and fuel for possible commercial use.