Thames Water and Fatbergs
Fatbergs, cost water companies about £15m pounds a year to clear up. For those of you who are not sure what a Fatberg is, it is congealed grease and oil that collects under the sink and can cause split pipes and blockages. A couple of years ago in a block of flats in Kingston upon Thames, the residents complained of difficulty in flushing their toilets. A 15 tonne-masse of congealed grease and oil had blocked 95% of a 2. 4 metre diameter brick pipe in the main sewer threatening to turn this London Borough into a cesspit, according to the guardian.
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A young student, James Seers was constantly told by his farther to avoid pouring grease down the sink. The student designer resolved to find a solution to this constant and costly problem. He ingeniously came up with a rework of the old U-bend pipe which fits under domestic sinks to prevent sewer gasses escaping. His new design, allows for oils and grease that come through the sink from dirty pans and dishes to be filtered out. The unwanted elements are collected in a container attached to the plumbing unit from where they can be disposed of safely. Incidentally there are laws in place that require restaurants and caterers to dispose of oil safely, but not so for domestic or private houses.
Thames Water ran a campaign to pour out your fat first, but according to Seers “that requires you to think about what you are doing, to be aware of the problem in the first place and then make an active decision to remove the residual fat which is stuck to pots and pans when you are washing up”.
His design which he developed during his final year of design and engineering degree at Brunel University in London uses a series of filters in the U-ben or P-trap under the sink. The design is simply a set of filters, and a basket under the plug. When the container is full, it can be twisted off sealed with a lid and disposed of. Once the oil has been separated out it could be recycled and used as biofuels. Seers has built a prototype which he tested for his final year project, but has encountered a problem. He is at the moment looking for funding to take the project forward and has been shortlisted for an international James Dyson award. Innovation at its best, you would think that water companies would be forming a que to take James Idea forwards…
Yorkshire Water and sewer blockages
In a similar vein, an innovative cooking oil recycling project in Bradford Moor whose, aim is to stop sewers getting blocked is set to expand across the city after proving a success. The scheme from Yorkshire Water and Karmand Community centre, encourages Bradford Moor residents to collect their waste cooking oil, such as ghee, into tubs, known as fat vats, rather than pouring them down the sink, according to The Telegraph and Argus News.
The tubs of cooking oil are collected by the Karmand Community Centre in a specially branded van provided by Yorkshire Water. They are then poured into a 1,000 litre container and sold to process and transform into bio fuels used to power generator stations and supply to the National Grid. Yorkshire Water had identified Bradford Moor as a sewer blockage hotspot with blockages recorded between 2011 and 2014. But since the scheme began there has only been one incident!
Yorkshire Water said that just one litre of cooking oils can generate enough electricity to make 240 cups of tea or power a flatsrceen TV for three hours. In an ideal world Thames and Yorkshire Water would get their noggins together on this one, and fund James to get his prototype up and running. Innovation at its best.
Thames Water and the supermoon
Flood alerts have been issued for stretches of the Thames, which Thames Water supplies, after high tides caused the river to swell. Saturday “supermoon” so called when the moon is unusually close to Earth, could explain the high tide water levels, as the moon’s gravitational pull can impact on tides. Earlier in the year the “supermoon” swelled the river flooding banks in areas including Greenwich, Putney and Chiswick, according to the Standard.
A “supermoon” described by Wikipedia, is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth…Well that’s all for this week folks, tune in for next week’s water news roundup.