The Findhorn Living Machine, courtesy of the Findhorn Foundation
The Living Machine: an ecological approach to poo
8th June, 2010
By mimicking the purifying behaviour of wetland ecosystems we can deal with our sewage using one quarter of the energy, and a fraction of the smell...
Most wastewater treatment plants squat on the seedy outskirts of towns. Drab, energy intensive and fetid, they can use harsh chemicals and are often ineffective against certain pathogens.
For decades scientists have been investigating healthier and smarter alternatives to conventional treatment systems. In the 1940s and 50s, despite the belief then that higher plants can’t withstand polluted waters, Dr Käthe Seidel from The Max Planck Society discovered that bulrushes don’t just survive polluted conditions, they restore them. This earned her the mocking moniker ‘Bulrush Kate’, but did not prevent Seidel from developing a system of basins containing plants that transformed polluted water into a cleaner end product. In time, though, it became clear that microorganisms, not plants, are the heavyweight cleaners.
Following in Seidel’s footsteps, the ecologist H.T. Odum created guiding principles for the emergent fields of ecological design and ecological engineering. These principles were based on his conviction that a sustainable future depends on our ability to incorporate nature’s closed-loop, systemic design into our own. Dr John Todd picked up the baton in the...
To view the rest of this article - you must be a paying subscriber and Login
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.