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Wastewater Treatment Plant

May 2, 2013

Wastewater_KenyonAt the end of the term, Kenyon’s Microbiology lab takes our annual spring trip to the Mount Vernon wastewater treatment plant. Kenyon students brave the huge pipes that collect sewage from miles around, with filters collecting whatever you flush down, from hygiene items to undigested corn. After primary treatment, the “bugs” (treatment microbes) get down to business.

In the anaerobic digester (below) the bacteria break down organics to CO2 and H2, which methanogens convert to methane. The methane travels through the red pipe, and spews out all the time; some gets collected for energy to heat the plant.Waste_anaerobic_digester

Next, the aerobic treatment: huge round vats of aerated water, full of respiring bacteria to break down organics to CO2. The bacteria are preyed on by ciliates, rotifers, and nematode worms, the “king of  the floc.”Waste_aerated

The proportions of the different microbes are controlled by chlorine. Did you ever see two ton-sized vats of chlorine?Waste_chlorineAnd finally–there goes all the treated water into the Kokosing river, to flow back past Kenyon! What goes around comes around.Waste_river

One Comment
  1. May 3, 2013 12:54 pm

    Wish I’d had biology from you — but I don’t think you were around then! Lucky students.

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