18 October, 2016 15:38
Anammox Bugs

A sewage treatment plant isn’t usually a ‘must-see’ for visitors, but Queensland Urban Utilities’ Innovation Centre is putting Luggage Point on the world map.

International delegates from the IWA World Water Congress, which was held in Brisbane last week, toured the Innovation Centre on Friday, October 14. 

The centre is an old heritage-listed building at Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant, which has been transformed into a thriving hub of world-leading research.

Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson, Michelle Cull, said the ideas being generated are capturing national and global attention.

“One of the ‘headline acts’ the international delegates came to see is our Anammox bugs because we’re the first in Australia to nurture them into a booming farm,” she said.

“These bugs convert the nitrogen in waste straight into gas, dropping an entire step in the treatment process, meaning we can reduce our chemical and energy use. We hope to save up to $700,000 a year, just here at Luggage Point.”

Dr Stefano Freguia from the University of Queensland’s Advanced Water Management Centre said a big benefit of the Innovation Centre is scientists can work alongside our engineers and operators.

“We have practical knowledge right in our lab and with 60 Olympic swimming pools worth of sewage arriving at Luggage Point every day there is an unlimited supply of samples,” he said.

“We also have access to the world’s largest replica sewer main – 1.2km of pipes which mimic the real conditions of a sewerage network.”

Dr Stefano is heading up one of 10 research projects underway in the Innovation Centre.

“In a world-first trial, we’ve developed a way to treat urine right at the source – at the loo – which could potentially reduce the workload at sewage treatment plants,” he said.

“The amazing thing is the process is self-powered by a battery-like system with the energy contained in the urine itself. No electricity or chemicals are required which reduces treatment costs.

“It also produces a safe and renewable fertiliser as a by-product.”

Ms Cull said the Innovation Centre showcased how modern sewage treatment plants are becoming more like resource recovery centres.

“We no longer think of sewage as waste, but a valuable resource we can harness,” she said.

“The most exciting part is the ground-breaking work being carried out here will transform the sewage treatment process across Australia and the world.”

About Queensland Urban Utilities
Established on July 1, 2010, Queensland Urban Utilities is one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia, providing water and sewerage services to more than 1.4 million residents across Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset local authority areas. We are upgrading and improving the reliability of our infrastructure by investing $2.76 billion in a 10-year capital works program. Our service territory covers 14,384 square kilometres and we employ around 1,100 people.