Pumping out new technology

Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Group
Thursday, 22 March, 2012

The laboratories at the AWMC (Advanced Water Management Centre) at The University of Queensland are set up to cater for numerous experiments to develop sustainable techniques for water management. Once proven, the resulting technology is often scaled up and used in much larger facilities.

For the range of biological and process experiments that are conducted at the university, it was important for the laboratory to have pumps that were accurate, flexible to be used in different applications and easy for the researchers to set up and integrate, with technical assistance if required.

Watson-Marlow was selected as the ideal investment for the pumps.

Research fellow Dr Julien Reungoat uses the Watson-Marlow 323U/MC8 microcassette pump because the high-speed turndown allows the pump to accurately pump multiple channels at very low flow rates, down to 10-20 mL/min.

The pump is used to pump 10 channels (coupling two 5-channel pumpheads) of treated wastewater into small-scale GAC adsorption columns where trace organic compounds are removed by adsorption. Over time, the adsorption capacity becomes exhausted and bacteria grow on the media, allowing the biodegradation of trace organic compounds, which is, in this application, a new technology.

The columns adsorption/biodegradation performance is measured over time, and the experimental equipment needs to be in continuous 24/7 operation for the data to be collected over several months.

The microcassette pumpheads have Marprene manifold tubing installed in them. This thermoplastic material can last up to up to 10,000 hours pumping water at zero pressure, which translates to very minimal maintenance for the users.

“This pump has been used in the lab for over three years,” Dr Reungoat says. “We only use Watson-Marlow, they are easy to program and we are very happy with them. After the first few pumps were purchased, we found they were very flexible to move into the various applications by switching pumphead or tubing combinations. The digital display on the pump allows operators to know the flow rate, which is also a huge plus.”

In the Water Recycling Team at the AWMC, Dr Kristell Le Corre has installed a larger IP66-rated Watson-Marlow 520UN/R pump outside for a sampling application at the Bundamba Sewage Treatment Plant.

“I was using Watson-Marlows for lab-scale applications at my prior job in the UK. They’re renowned as good quality lab pumps, and I’ve never experienced any sort of failures with the ones I used at the time,” Dr Le Corre states. “In this application however, conditions are different as sampling has to be performed outside. We have the pump installed on-site, running 24/7 in all elements - rain, humidity - and it is perfect for what we need. The pump is set in the automatic mode responding to a 4-20mA signal from the main inflow meter of the sewage treatment plant. It samples wastewater proportionally to the main flow, then we can accurately analyse its content in pharmaceutical residues in the labs later.”

In the context of source control - the first of the seven barriers process of South East Queensland’s water recycling schemes - the main objectives of Dr Le Corre’s are to investigate which fractions of the total load of pharmaceutical residues in the influent of a sewage treatment plant originate from hospitals and answering the question: Is treatment or removal of pharmaceuticals at the source an effective and economic approach to reduce pharmaceutical loads in the influent of a sewage treatment plant? Hence, treated municipal wastewater could be used as feed for an advanced treatment plant. On a bigger scale, her research will help to determine appropriate monitoring methodologies and enhance the understanding of wastewater related pollutants fluxes in the urban environment.

All in all, Watson-Marlow pumps are helping the AWMC with successful research, development and application projects, of which many are in close collaboration with industry and research collaborators. The pumps are also trickling into other labs on campus and processing sites as a direct result of the research academics movements and satisfaction with using them.

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