Engineering students upgrade wastewater treatment process

Aug. 3, 2015

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — The system uses small bio-discs to allow the growth of micro-organisms and bacteria.

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Engineering students recently upgraded an outdated treatment system at the Environmental Resources Training Center (ERTC), according to

The students are part of the ERTC’s one-year Water Quality Control Operations Program, noted the article. They converted the 35-year-old system into a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR), a system that uses hundreds of small bio-discs that allow growth of a layer of biological film.

"The discs act like little apartment buildings where bacteria and other microorganisms can live," said ERTC director Paul Shetley in the article. "Professionals in the water industry refer to the microorganisms that help clean the wastewater as bugs."

The bugs help clean the water as they eat organic matter, reported the article. Air bubbles pumped into the tank provide oxygen for the bugs and allow the discs to circulate.

"The training center provides vocational-technical educational opportunities for people interested in a career in the field of water treatment technology," reported the article. Students receive hands-on training operating three drinking water plants and five different treatment processes.

ERTC graduates can become certified water treatment operators in Illinois and Missouri, shared the article. "Our graduates have the opportunity to hold five professional certifications in water treatment," added Shetley in the article. "There is no other training center in the nation that provides that opportunity."

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