Environment

Poo-Gloos treat sewage as quickly and effectively as mechanical plants, but cost less

Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes) prior to submersion in a sewage lagoon
Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes) prior to submersion in a sewage lagoon
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Diagram illustrating how Poo-Gloos work: concentrically nested domes are infused with low pressure air to optimize the growth of naturally occurring bio-films: as water flows through bio-domes, bottom-to-top, beneficial bacteria reduce biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and ammonia-nitrogen in waste water lagoons prior to discharge
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Diagram illustrating how Poo-Gloos work: concentrically nested domes are infused with low pressure air to optimize the growth of naturally occurring bio-films: as water flows through bio-domes, bottom-to-top, beneficial bacteria reduce biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and ammonia-nitrogen in waste water lagoons prior to discharge
Half submerged Poo-Gloos as a wastewater lagoon is filled
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Half submerged Poo-Gloos as a wastewater lagoon is filled
Fully submerged Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes)
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Fully submerged Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes)
Frozen foam columns are a result of the air-water mixture bubbling up through the ice in freezing conditions
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Frozen foam columns are a result of the air-water mixture bubbling up through the ice in freezing conditions
Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes) prior to submersion in a sewage lagoon
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Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes) prior to submersion in a sewage lagoon
Bio-Domes (Poo-Gloos) being installed at Jackpot NV
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Bio-Domes (Poo-Gloos) being installed at Jackpot NV

Poo isn't something generally talked about in polite company but like it or not, all of that human waste has to go somewhere. In smaller rural communities, it usually goes to wastewater lagoon systems; the alternative is mechanical treatment plants which process waste far more quickly but are expensive, labor intensive and often use chemicals. Enter the "Poo-Gloo," or Bio-Dome as it is officially known – an igloo-shaped device that can reportedly clean up sewage as effectively, but far more cheaply, than its mechanical counterparts. The Poo-Gloo, developed by Wastewater Compliance Systems, Inc., uses a combination of air, dark environment and large surface area to encourage the growth of a bacterial biofilm which consumes the wastewater pollutants. It is claimed that Poo-Gloos can treat pollutants just as quickly as mechanical plants while operating at a fraction of the cost – hundreds of dollars a month rather than thousands – and can be retrofitted to existing lagoon systems.

The Poo-Gloos work in clusters, with two dozen or more arranged in rows fully submerged at the bottom of the lagoon. Each Poo-Gloo consists of four concentrically nested plastic domes filled with plastic packing to provide a large surface area for bacterial growth. Rings of bubble-release tubes sit at the base of every Poo-Gloo and bubble air up through the cavities between domes. The air exits a hole in the top of each dome. As air moves through the dome, it draws water from the bottom of the lagoon up through the dome and out the top.

Individual Poo-Gloos create 2,800 square feet (260 square meters) of surface area for bacterial growth while taking up just 28 square feet (2.6 square meters) of space. In comparison with labor-intensive mechanical plants, Poo-Gloos require little maintenance. They use the same amount of electricity as a 75-watt bulb and can even be powered with solar or wind energy systems, further reducing the cost.

Taylor Reynolds, director of sales for Wastewater Compliance Systems says that most of the projects he quotes are between US$150,000 and $500,000, a far more palatable option for an average municipality than the $4 million to $10 million they are quoted for a mechanical plant.

A pilot study to evaluate Poo-Gloo performance at different water temperatures, levels of aeration, sewage volumes and concentrations yielded impressive results:

  • Biological oxygen demand – a measure of organic waste in water – was reduced consistently by 85 percent using Poo-Gloos, and ranged as high as 92 percent
  • Total suspended solids fell consistently by 85 percent, and ranged as high as 95 percent
  • Ammonia levels dropped more than 98 percent with Poo-Gloo treatment in warmer water and, more importantly, by as much as 93 percent when temperatures dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) – conditions that normally slow bacterial breakdown of sewage
  • Total nitrogen levels fell 68 percent in warmer water and 55 percent in cooler water

Poo-Gloos have been deployed in six states in the U.S. in either a full installation or pilot environment, and in all cases have successfully met pollution-control requirements.
The Poo-Gloo is not just for consuming poo, however. Wastewater Compliance Systems is in the process of filing patents for other applications and markets, hence the rebranding as Bio-Dome, which the company agrees is "less fun" but more appropriate for their diversification.

14 comments
alcalde
\"The Poo-Gloo is not just for consuming poo, however.\" There\'s a sentence you don\'t write every day.
quatermass
Looks. Like a typical nitrifying filter used in my aquarium. I\'ve used bacteria in my tanks for years to get rid of ammonia, decaying plant matter and fish poo. Nowadays you can buy bacterial products used in sewage treatment for your pet aquatic animals.
Loving It All
Could this product be used to help deal with factory farm waste as well as human? I\'m no fan of factory farms, but if their impact on the environment could be reduced that would be very worthwhile.
Adrian Akau
\" Each Poo-Gloo consists of four concentrically nested plastic domes filled with plastic packing to provide a large surface area for bacterial growth.\" If the number of concentrically nested plastic domes as well as the amount of air bubbles were increased, what would happen? Is there a limit on the height for the system to work? Is it possible for sewage treatment plants to be constructed more vertical?
Taylor
Hi fellow Gizmag readers, my name is Taylor Reynolds. I work for Wastewater Compliance Systems. I have to admit I am super excited about the fact that our products made it onto Gizmag, I\'ve been a reader for a long time now, and thoroughly enjoy the site. I wanted to take a minute to respond to some of your questions: @ quatermass: The underlying principles are exactly the same. The cheapest method of treating waste is to allow mother nature do the work for you. Our device is simply designed to provide a home for the bacteria so that they can develop in much higher concentrations and provide treatment at an accelerated rate. @ Loving it All: It absolutely can be used to deal with factory farm waste. We are currently working with a number of organizations around the world to develop and fine tune our products to help clean up the waste from dairies and hog farms. If you have any other questions please don\'t hesitate to post here, or email us through our \"contact us\" page. -T
WintersEdge
Dear Taylor or anyone else at Wastewater Compliance, My question is along the lines of what Loving it All asked. Maybe you could clarify this further. I understand the design concept, but how or why exactly did you settle on these specific dimensions? Why 4 concentric domes? Why not make each Poo Gloo /BioDome half the size? Why not double the size? Why not 3 concentric domes rather than 4? Why not 8 concentric domes? Did you somehow model the design to find what the optimum choice for each of these considerations is? Thanks!
Taylor
@wintersedge: We actually do produce various sizes as the project requires. Our \"standard\" size however is very compatible with most lagoon which are between 6 - 8 feet deep. Regarding the other aspects of our design, it was lot of trial and error and intuitive thinking on the part of the inventor Kraig Johnson. The idea was to create a device that was as big as possible without becoming too cumbersome to move, install, or service. Theoretically the bigger we make them the more a single poo-gloo could handle, but that would also increase cost, weight, manufacturing challenges and a whole other host of issues. Poo-gloos are a combination of solid science and practical engineering.
alcalde
\"Theoretically the bigger we make them the more a single poo-gloo could handle, but that would also increase cost, weight, manufacturing challenges and a whole other host of issues.\" Thank you, Taylor, for your answer to the question best summarized as: How much poo could a poo-gloo shoo if a poo-gloo grew in situ? \"Poo-gloos are a combination of solid science and practical engineering.\" And poo.
agsjackson
I\'m currently looking at biogas digesters for a dvelopment of about 30 houses with about 90 people, and would like to harvest the methane gas for water heating etc. What happens to the methane gas with the \"poogloo\"?
JarrodB
To Taylor: This device looks absolutely awesome. I\'m not too sure what the exact processes are chemically, between the bacterial digestion and excretion, and whether or not agsjackson is on to something with the methane and other gases. In particularly, nitrogen oxides and methane. Perhaps you could share where the gases go and whether or not you trap them in a filter or container. Another thing, where could I buy shares in this product and company? See you at the next shareholders meeting