1 May 2019

Location – North Queensland

System type – Fresh (tertiary treatment)

System specs – Bioremediation concept simulation

Type of algae used – Oedogonium

Year – 2016


In 2016, we engaged with a council, in conjunction with James Cook University (JCU) to embark on an exciting and revolutionary trial of Pacific Bio water polishing technology (then known as MBD). The trial was designed to assess the performance of freshwater macroalgal bioremediation on sewage water in an industrial tertiary treatment setting.

Water treatment is a challenging problem for councils with economic, environmental, regulatory and ethical considerations all part of the consideration. Existing tertiary wastewater treatment options for councils include the need for significant infrastructure which is often prohibitively expensive and complicated. Whilst regulatory requirements for water quality output don’t impact all councils currently, the impact of polluted discharge on surrounding natural environments is universal.

Researchers from JCU and Pacific Bio devised the process of water treatment at the Sewage Treatment Plant using a form of macroalgae to significantly reduce harmful nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from the facility’s wastewater before it entered surrounding waterways.

Over the course of six small-scale, week-long trials the team used a batch system with the aim of reducing the pollutants indicative of a flow-through HRAP trial. They achieved results much faster and with less expense than anticipated and all results from the six trials consistently aligned.

The trial showed that incorporating macroalgal bioremediation at the facility would be a comparatively flexible, quick and low-cost option for remediating sewage wastewater compared to conventional ‘membrane’ technologies.

The reaction from the facility’s management and the council has been enthusiastic and positive, with the council expressing the potential to move to a permanent integration of Pacific Bio’s solution at the facility. 

It’s an exciting step towards implementing a smarter way to manage wastewater that’s mutually beneficial for councils and the environment.