Friday, 30 April 2021

We are the World Blogfest # 48 … how Sewage has the Power to help …


We have upped the ante on waste – yes, human waste – I watched a wonderful programme on the Beeb about a month ago on the Secret Science of Sewage …

 



I know – who would have thought pee and poo would provide entertainment … but us humans are extraordinarily clever little beings …

 

 

The programme was on the very advanced Minworth sewage treatment plant in the west Midlands – part of the Severn-Trent catchment area.

 


Minworth Sewage Treatment Plant
The Rivers Severn to the west coast, Trent to the east coast … have always been conduits of sewage … but now 21st century science is opening new doors to assist with our ‘human gunge’ problem … that seems to cause the western world any number of problems.

 

 

Out of the sludge and dirty water comes brightness … and relief as we go about our daily business.  How about:

 

pee powering mobile phones ….

 

poo running cars using bio-gas …

 

finding life-saving medicinal treatments … as tiny life-forms are flushed down the loo every day …

 

… there’s a treasure trove in every sewage plant – believe it or not.

 

Minworth village flag
Scientists are investigating these potential areas – Minworth researchers working with Warwick University and Monash University, Melbourne, Australia … are concentrating on phages …

 

Phages could treat pneumonia, bloodstream infections and inflammatory bowel diseaseformore info check here …

 

 

Bacteriophage - (atomic
structural model)
As with every human operation … the sludge and rubbish needs to be cleared out first … so one thing that would be really helpful in this modern world – is if we all thought about our rubbish and put it, used it in the right place – saving pounds, dollars et al – saving time, and energy in clearing up … so that important scientific work could proceed apace.

 

 

Our waste is not waste … it contains half of the energy and half of the food value that was eaten – so it’s an incredible resource …

 

… our scientists reckon that the key to understanding our life is to understand its waste … so it makes sense to research our human waste – so we waste not, and then want not …

 

Monash University - Coat of
Arms ... "I am still learning"
We’re always checking out and learning from dung found in the eras before this anthropological age … now’s our chance to change our own world by looking at our own pre-fossilized dung!

 

 

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, be Light 


A pdf aboutMinworth Sewage Treatment Works  …  


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

41 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
..."where there's muck there's brass"... (sorry, but couldn't help but reference that old chestnut - which is also so true!) YAM xx

Elephant's Child said...

A brilliant initiative - which I hope spreads.

Rhodesia said...

Interesting post, certainly different !! Have a good weekend, Diane

Jayashree (pagesfromjayashree) said...

I have heard of paper being made from elephant dung and in India cow dung used to be put to so many uses including cleaning the floors(it is an antiseptic) plus lighting the fire until modern world took over. This is very interesting.

https://pagesfromjayashree.blogspot.com/2021/04/z-for-zoo.html

Joanne said...

Interestingly stinky concept. More power to the scientists and poo specialists. Quite an undertaking. I do contribute my share, I guess.

Marcy said...

What a wonderful perspective. There certainly are a lot of new ideas on recycling, reusing, and taking care of our planet and future generations. Thanks for the post!

Hels said...

Hilary thanks.

Your blog post reminds me of something I hadn't thought about in decades. In the 1950s, I was the only girl with 2 younger brothers and 3 younger male first cousins in adjoining houses who spent half of each year playing in the back yard. When the 5 boys had to pee, they weren't asked to go into the house; rather they pee'd on the lemon tree outside. The theory was that little boys' urine would make for stout, healthy lemon trees.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam – yes where there’s muck there’s brass and so much more, when we (or other clever people) research and find out the benefits … and then put them to good use …

@ EC – I’m sure it’ll spread – two universities and other institutes – we need to learn so much …

@ Diane – yes … it’s different – but worth thinking about … at least I thought so!

@ Jayashree – yes I bought some paper made from elephant dung back with me from South Africa … and I’m sure India does the same with cow dung. And yes – during the Middle Ages they used cow dung mixed with other things to make walls of houses, and floors … and it is an antiseptic, and will once lit produce fire … thanks for reminding us of all these methods and items from days past.

@ Joanne – I thought I’d stir up a few ideas … the programme was quite extraordinary to watch. We all contribute our share don’t we … no guessing – it’s fact!

@ Marcy – thank you … it’s a little different – but definitely worth mentioning. There are many ideas out there that are establishing new ways to help us through at this time.

@ Hels – yes … men still do it! But urine has some amazing properties … nitrogen, and uric acid – both useful ingredients that can be extracted from our urine. This programme highlighted quite a number of uses that we can extract from our daily waste …

Thanks so much – funny subject for #WATWB … but an appropriate thought provoking one … it’s May Day – just what one wants to think about today! Cheers Hilary

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Ah, Hilary, the sweet fragrance of eau de sewer is a bouquet to be savoured and appreciated by a birder. Nothing is quite so productive as a traditional sewage farm with settling ponds and the like. There is habitat and food aplenty for shorebirds, waterfowl and others, including those that prey on them. From an environmental standpoint I applaud it when new, high tech, super efficient modern installations replace old lagoons, but I mourn the loss for birds and birders alike. On one of our early dates I took Miriam to a sewage lagoon - and she stuck with me, so that tells you something. Pee and poo is ubiquitous, the supply is predictable and quantity is assured, so if we can put it all to good use, so much the better. We can count on you to bring us the unusual, Hilary. You have done it again!

Jacqui Murray said...

Bless those who find this interesting! Sigh.

Jemima Pett said...

I'm very fond of sewage, and 'clean' sewage has been used to produce electricity and/or biogas since the late 1990s. (You can tell I was studying then. The trouble has always been the idiots that put things which aren't biodegradable down the loo. Why put cotton buds (q-tips) down the loo? Surely it's obvious they aren't sewage? Or condoms, which our professor had very funny, if slightly embarrassing stories about, as they rose to the surface in the sewage farms!
Sorry. Bringing down the tone of your blog. Do prune if necessary.
The best solution is to enforce what they did in many island countries in the 70s and 80s:
It can only get flushed down the loo if you've eaten it.

Keith's Ramblings said...

I can't say I give sewage much thought, I certainly can't imagine watching a TV programme about it, more of a crime drama kinda guy myself! However, you've raised some interesting points. Sorry, must dash, I need the loo!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ David - yes ... the area has a lot of spare land, which is being left to filtrate out overflows ... so the birds and bees are enjoying the fruits of the extra land. So yes it is hyper-efficient but it needed to be upgraded to keep up with the population ... and also to develop the potential of new technologies;

then there's all the clearing up that needs to be done from all our appalling habits ... ie masks, footballs, cotton-buds, condoms, sanitary towels etc that get put down the loo ...

or the amazing amount of oil/fat that gets 'washed away' - letting the companies deal with 'fatbergs' ... a huge one has been found in Birmingham - our 2nd city ... it is enormous and they think it'll take a month+ to get rid of ...

I'd love to visit the Minworth site - it'd be so interesting ... and I so enjoyed the programme!

Miriam is to be congratulated ... but I'm sure she appreciated the workings of the sewage lagoon ... life is so interesting.

@ Jacqui - sorry for not pressing your 'interest button' ... but there 'tis! Sigh ...

@ Jemima - yes I was aware a lot more had happened in the past - to get us to this point ... and I could definitely have extrapolated this post more.

I find it awful - and that ginormous fat-ball in Birmingham they've told us about this week ... foul. You haven't brought the tone of the blog down ... I can sort of imagine your professor's stories - and reminded me of somewhat similar stories by one of our lecturers in Johannesburg - all those years ago. No explanation coming!

Actually your note about island countries makes absolute sense ... if only we could introduce that now - people are so irresponsible.

@ Keith - we don't often give it much thought do we ... that programme was extremely interesting - and I thought appropriate for #WATWB post. Glad I raised some interesting points ... hope you had some good thoughts during your loo visit?!

Thanks so much to you all - the subjects studied will help us in the future ... all the best - Hilary

Pradeep Nair said...

Very interesting, Hilary. We need a lot of such initiatives. They also need a lot of institutional backing so that more people can benefit and this world can be a far better place to live in.

DMS said...

Sounds like a positive way to use waste!

I try to use all the containers that things come in for other purposes. We have so much we discard in life- and some people do not discard of items properly. Recycling can help our waste get used again for something new- or to power some of our other needs. :)

Hugs!
~Jess

Inger said...

You find the most interesting things to write about. I now wonder what's going on in my septic tank!

diedre Knight said...

At last; an alternative to humans eating backyard grass! I must say this would not be my first thought in terms of re-purposing, but more power to the trailblazers! Innovative ideas - and solutions - are so much better than the dire predictions being passed around these days.

Anabel Marsh said...

We all need to think about these things more carefully. We can’t afford to waste anything.

Susan Scott said...

AMAZING initiative Hilary and so interesting! I've hear that urine is an excellent toner for the skin ... not that I've tried it. I'm not revealing my sources :) I'll check out the link you provided, thanks for it. Great @WATWB post Hilary.

A Cuban In London said...

That was a most interesting post on human waste. If it's on the iPlayer, I'll check it out. Thanks! :-)

Greetings from London.

Liz A. said...

Stuff we don't want to think about, but someone has to, or else we would be overrun.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Now this was an interesting read

D.G. Kaye said...

Very interesting and different post Hilary. A stinky situation, lol <3

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Pradeep – yes there’s a lot going on that we don’t see or hear about … so I’m always glad when my eyes are opened to these initiatives … and I can on occasions write up about them.

@ Jess – having the need to expand the sewage treatment works … it makes so much sense for them to utilise whatever opportunity is there … as we learn more and more about ‘our waste’ – and what we can re-use, or utilise with new developments. I dislike wasting things – it frustrates me …

@ Inger – thank you … we’ve had septic tanks in any number of houses … my brother still has one … but I’m sure you don’t abuse it – the waste will be appropriate for the tank … you’d smell it too – if it went off (as such)!!

@ Diedre – I thought it was so interesting … I’d not thought about our personal waste having so much value, which can be repurposed … it just adds up to the ideas you have commented on … we are so lucky people think out of the box …

@ Anabel – yes … we really can’t afford to waste anything – as these initiatives show …

@ Susan – thank you … I just was very happy to write this up; I hadn’t heard of urine being a good skin toner … but know that diabetes in the 1800s was worked out from the taste of urine – it was sweeter. Just delighted you’ll check out the link …

@ ACIL – thank you – it was such an interesting programme – and it is on iPlayer. The presenter George McGavin had a fun Desert Island Disc programme recently … which also was fascinating … especially his backstory …

@ Liz – we certainly need our sewage to be treated, so it doesn’t damage the environment, that’s for sure …

@ Jo-Anne – glad you enjoyed it …

@ Debby – I know I thought it would stir up a few interesting comments – definitely could be a stinky situation …

Thanks so much to you all – it’s been fun to write up and to realise that our personal waste has so much value that can be put to good use … have good weeks - Hilary

presstfortime said...

Well this certainly brings to light a twist/addition to recycling. What a fascinating post to stumble across. Perhaps, in time this will become more accepted? Great post.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Science is incredible, isn't it? Well, science and then the engineering to put it into practise. I'm relieved people are trying to make positive improvements - I just hope these good ideas can become commonplace and not forgotten or ignored.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So great that scientist are trying to figure out a way to reuse our waste.

mail4rosey said...

Well, it does make sense, but that's a poopy job someone is going to have to do (sorry, I couldn't resist). :) Here to wish you a wonderful day!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Martha - thanks for your positive and delightful comment - good to see you ...

@ Annalisa - I know science is extraordinary ... I do love the snippets I manage to learn! and then let others know more about. It looks like these ideas are on their way to implementation ... so they won't be forgotten or ignored.

@ Natalie - thank you ... yes it's wonderful to see scientists really flourishing here and enjoying their research ...

@ Rosey - thanks ... it just makes so much sense to extract the essential and valuable ingredients from our human waste ... so interesting!

Thanks so much - great to see you - cheers Hilary

Janie Junebug said...

I had no idea. You've educated me, Hilary.

Love,
Janie

Nas said...

Great initiative but I had no idea.

Vallypee said...

Well, well, well! Wonders will never cease! I also didn’t know that half the energy from what we eat goes into our waste. That’s amazing! Thank you, as always, for teaching me something, Hilary!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Very different and not a bad idea! Waste not, want not as my Ouma (grandmother) used to say!! :) And there's certainly plenty of human waste to go around - how creative to find a use for it!

H.R. Sinclair said...

Finding use for the waste is a great idea.

BWitzenhausen said...

Great post! Probably some of the the most abundant resources available (especially after political debates lol), it's good to see that they're being considered as an alternative. Thanks so much for sharing this and for being a part of #WATWB. Hope you have a fantastic week!

Mason Canyon said...

Great idea and so much more useful than we ever imaged.

Sandra Cox said...

Who'd a thought? What goes around comes around:)
Cheers,

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janie – yes, I first educated me …

@ Nas – it is a great initiative … taking advantage of these new facilities at this modern Sewage Plant …

@ Val – yes … well, well, well! Exactly – wonders continue on – thankfully for us … that fact about half our personal (human) waste being of value, once excreted, amazed me. Glad you appreciate the ideas expressed here …

@ Judy – lovely to see you … it’s amazing how much we are able to help ourselves … these initiatives are, as you say, so very creative and could be so useful …

@ Holly – isn’t it great that we’ve found some uses for our excreted personal waste …

@ Belinda – thank you … I would think available and very abundant resources – that are now being valued and considered to be worthwhile researching …

@ Mason – certainly much more valuable than we might have imagined …

@ Sandra – exactly … quite mind boggling really … but of such value …

Thanks everyone – I’m so glad that this has awakened our value in our pee and poo … I’m much more aware of how valuable research is … stay safe all of you - Hilary

bazza said...

We all used to laugh at a friend of ours who has just retired as an "Effluent Officer" at Thames Water! Suddenly he's trendy and fashionable and he was grateful when I told him about that programme which found on CatchUp. It is very interesting. I remember him telling me, years ago, that most sewage farms have tomatoes growing around the edge because tomato seeds are fairly indestructible.
I said, "Sewage farm? Have they got a farm shop?"

Nilanjana Bose said...

Waste not want not is a time tested one! Poo is not to be pooh-poohed, right?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bazza - poor chap ... and what a title ... but he had the right job, didn't he? - oh great that he was able to watch the programme - it is such an interesting tv programme.

This treatment works has lots of spare land around it for nature ... and I'm sure vegetables too ... Having seen sewage drip fed through fields ... I feel we've been utilising the stuff to feed us for years ...

@ Nila - absolutely ... Poo is most definitely not to be pooh-poohed ... not sure what Pooh bear would think about his name being taken in vain!

Thanks the two of you ... delighted with the comments - cheers Hilary