SOURCE: Sam Houston State University

February 10, 2010 13:09 ET

'Revolutionary' Water Treatment Units on Their Way to Afghanistan, Maybe Haiti, Says Sam Houston State University

HUNTSVILLE, TX--(Marketwire - February 10, 2010) - The United States Army has taken delivery of the first two units of a "revolutionary" waste-water treatment system that will clean putrid water within 24 hours and leave no toxic by-products, according to scientists at Sam Houston State University.

"The system is based on a proprietary consortium of bacteria -- you can find them in a common handful of dirt," said Sabin Holland, who manages the research and development of the systems through the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies at Sam Houston State.

"In the right combination and in the right medium, they clean polluted water very quickly and very efficiently. It's a revolutionary solution."

Holland said the physical systems themselves -- called "bio-reactors" -- use little energy, are transportable, scalable, simple to set-up and operate, come on-line in record time and can be monitored remotely.

The first two units, housed in standard 20-foot ISO shipping containers, are being deployed by the Army to Afghanistan to support forward operating bases with up to five hundred personnel. Each unit can process about 20,000 of wastewater per day.

"The science and engineering technology behind this process have both military and civilian applications," said Holland.

"The technology was developed for remote applications where little infrastructure exists, such as remote military operations, disaster relief and nation-building situations."

Holland said the Army's Engineer Research Development Center has inquired about sending a unit to Haiti.

"These systems would be immensely useful right now in Haiti," Holland said. "One of the most pressing threats to public health in the aftermath of the recent earthquake is contaminated water and the lack of infrastructure to clean it up. This technology is an ideal application to mitigate that urgent need."

"We have gone from basic research into the bacteria to actual construction and deployment of the systems in seven years. The typical time from discovery to commercialization is 14 years," Holland said.

Holland and his colleagues have demonstrated the systems' capabilities at several municipal and military sites to the satisfaction of the Army by cleaning influent wastewater within 24 hours after set-up to discharge levels that exceed the standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency for municipal wastewater, "leaving less than ten percent of sludge by volume, in most cases less than one percent."

"The typical septic system or traditional waste treatment process can take more than a month and leave 40 to 50 percent sludge," he said.

The research has been funded the last three years by the Department of Defense. The Army's systems will be deployed in rugged terrain, transported by standard heavy trucks using a standard pallet loading system.

Sam Houston State and a private firm, PCD Inc, of Palestine Texas, have created a limited liability corporation named Active Water Sciences (AWS), to manufacture, sell and further develop the systems.

"This technology is an elegant, simple and environmentally friendly system with a lot of applications, on land and sea, military and civilian," said Dan Davis, SHSU's associate vice president for research administration and technology commercialization. "We are getting serious inquiries from potential users."

Sam Houston State University has received three patents to protect the science and technology associated with a system and has other applications pending.

Contact Information

  • Contacts:

    Sam Houston State University
    Office of University Communications
    Bruce Erickson
    Email Contact
    (936) 294-1833

    Sabin Holland
    (936) 294-4234
    Email: Email Contact

    Dan Davis
    (936) 294-1092
    Email: Email Contact

    For assistance in setting up interviews with Holland or Davis, you can also
    Email Contact
    (936) 294-1833
    Julia May
    Email Contact
    (936) 294-1837