St Andrew’s College takes its first step to going off-grid
This week St Andrew’s College in Makhanda (Grahamstown) took possession of the first Biopipe Africa biological water recycling system to be installed on the African continent.
Biopipe was founded by a group of passionate entrepreneurs whose mission was to develop the world’s first biological wastewater treatment that does not produce sludge. Patented in more than 55 countries, Biopipe is the world’s first biological wastewater treatment system in which the process takes place entirely within a series of pipes. The system is the result of years of research that led to the development of one of the most sustainable, eco- friendly, and cost-effective wastewater treatment solutions in the world. The Biopipe produces no sludge, no odour, no sound, and no waste and the system is fully automated and self-contained.
St Andrews College’s sustainability goal is to be “Off Grid” by the year 2030. This ambitious goal has been set by St Andrew’s College with the understanding that the school has a responsibility to the environment in which it operates. The installation of the Biopipe plant is the first tangible step in reaching the school’s sustainability goals, and allows wastewater to be recycled and reused on campus, thereby alleviating some of the pressure on scarce local water resources. Future stages of the strategy will include the incremental installation of solar power solutions and other green technologies.
This project was conceived early in 2019 through a collaboration between Practical Water Solutions and the school’s Environmental Club. The pilot project takes 30kl/day of wastewater (grey and black water) from various boarding houses, the school’s dining hall and staff housing and to recover it on site to irrigation standard, was approved by Makana municipality in 2019.
Mr Malcolm van Bergen (head of the sustainability portfolio at St Andrew’s) together with Ayomideji Israel-Akinbo and Ishan Panchal (both of whom are scholars in Grade 10) will be working closely with Mr Jabulani Maswanganyi (Operations Manager) who will oversee the project after receiving training from the Practical Water Solutions team. Ayomideji and Ishan are both on the sustainability committee which is responsible for creating awareness of and reporting on water based issues at St Andrew’s College.
Following months of planning and the unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown, the Biopipe water recovery system finally arrived at St Andrew’s College on Monday 19 October 2020, where staff from Practical Water Solutions and Biopipe Africa were waiting to install and commission the system.
Three water tanks have been installed next to the Biopipe system where the grey and black water will be stored. A submersible pump has been set up to transfer the wastewater from the storage tank into the Biopipe. The wastewater will then circulate through the Biopipe where bacteria engages with pollutants and eliminates contaminants from the wastewater. Air is automatically vacuumed in by the pressure difference to create an ideal ambient condition for rapid growth of the bacteria and to accelerate the aerobic digestion. The treated water then passes through a disc filter and an inline chlorinator to complete the treatment. The treated water will then be stored in a clean water tank, to be used to irrigate various sports fields on the St Andrew’s campus.