Synopsis: Designing a truck stop can be fashionable with the right system designed for high strength wastewater, but what to do when the space is needed for parking heavy trucks?

Application: The HighStrengthFAST® Wastewater Treatment System handles high amounts of BOD and TSS from commercial kitchens and washing facilities.

Lara Liu, project manager for an engineering firm, stepped out of her cab and took in the sprawling, three stories of glass, stainless steel and smooth concrete that was the city convention center. She envied whoever got to design it. Convention centers were the type of buildings that allowed architects and engineers to “show off.” However, she was currently designing a truck stop, in which case, function was a higher priority than fashion.

As she entered the lobby, feeling a wave of air conditioning envelop her, she looked for the mandatory sign that would tell her the schedule of the day’s events. She spotted it in the form of a flat-screen TV on a pillar ahead and to her right. The main title read, “State Onsite Association Conference: All Day – Level 2.” Below it was a list of the conference events; she was interested in the workshop on high-strength wastewater treatment, given by BioMicrobics, Inc. She didn’t know much about the company, but the architect she worked with, Alan Artest, highly recommended them, and it was a lucky coincidence that BioMicrobics was presenting at the convention.

Upon reaching the second floor, she passed the large show room, which was bustling with people visiting various wastewater companies’ booths, shaking hands, holding brochures, leaning over laptops, picking up sample products, and grabbing free hats, mugs and the like. Lara continued down the hall and entered Suite D, prepared to do battle with boredom.

She had not taken two steps in before she realized boredom would not be the case that day. The woman standing by the stage, talking with someone, was unlike anyone Lara had ever seen. Her hair consisted of glossy, thick strands of blue hair, which Lara guessed to be polypropylene. Her eyes were twin LEDs, shimmering with the same color as her hair. Her mouth was a green, digital screen bearing stylized, feminine lips.

High Strength Wastewater Never Look so Good

Lara refused to stare, but after she had taken a seat in the front row, she continually glanced at the woman. She suddenly realized that everything the woman wore and part of the woman’s body had an application for wastewater. Her black top appeared to be a blower housing, and her blue skirt had fine, horizontal slits in it, reminiscent of a type of filter. Both pieces of clothing were made of plastic. She had rubber gaskets for shoulder blades, metal louvers for elbows, and a blue air-blower for a backpack. Her sturdy, blue boots with stainless steel clasps looked ideal for stepping in sludge. Despite this unlikely anatomy, all of these parts came together seamlessly and stylishly. She even had good muscle tone, an impressive feat for someone with a plastic body.

Predictably, some of the other attendees were looking at the woman and muttering about her to those sitting next to them.

“She’s a B.O.T.S. A BioMicrobics Onsite Treatment Specialist,” a man whispers behind Lara. “Apparently, she’s one of their leading aeration experts. Good-looking gal, too.”

A few minutes later, the woman was standing at the podium, and the screen behind her now bore the opening slide of her presentation.

“Hello, everyone! Thanks for coming. My name is Aerobe; I work as an onsite specialist for Bio-Microbics, Inc. Today, I’m going to give you a rundown on high-strength waste and on how a HighStrengthFAST® works.”

Lara knew high-strength wastewater well, but Aerobe’s lively disposition held her attention anyway. When she got to talking about a HighStrengthFAST®’s benefits, which Lara did not know about, Lara leaned forward in her seat.

HighStrengthFAST®’s are Fixed Integrated Treatment Technologies” (FITT®) using submerged fixed-film media for bacteria to attach themselves and provide robust treatment in the tank,” Aerobe was saying. “Easy to install with an experienced installation crew, it would take as little as three hours. If you maintain it well, the system is perfectly consistent. It’s made for various types of environments and influents, so that it should leave low levels of the TSS and BOD every time. We aren’t required by law to treat up to seventy percent of nitrogen the way we do, but we do it anyway.

“In case you want me to stop throwing numbers at you, I’ll say that a HighStrengthFAST® is aesthetically pleasing as well. All the treatment is done in the tank, and there’s no odor. If something goes wrong with the HighStrengthFAST®, you will know immediately, thanks to our TRACK® monitoring system.” She points to her belt buckle. “You can have it text your phone when it encounters a problem. And, if I am in the area, I can fly on over…” She activated her air-blower backpack, rose ten feet in the air and hovered for a few seconds. “…and inspect it in person.”

Finding Out More

When the presentation was over, Lara could tell from the clapping that the rest of the audience was as impressed as she was. Alan had been right to recommend BioMicrobics. All that was left to do now was to ask about her specific application for the HighStrengthFAST®. Aerobe had remained in the room for a few minutes, but given that several people were either talking or waiting to talk with her, Lara figured she would be better off going out to the booth.

Back in the show room and its cacophony of voices, Lara edged and sidestepped her way to BioMicrobics’ booth. As it came into view, she saw someone who looked a lot like Aerobe, but with key differences: he was masculine, maybe six-foot-two, and bulky with slightly different BioMicrobics parts. At the moment, he was handing a brochure to a visitor and shaking hands in farewell. The visitor the man mentioned something, grinning, to the BioMicrobics Representative, who laughed and rested his elbow in arm-wrestling position on the portable table at the front of the booth. Although the visitor looked strong, the Bio Rep beat him after a few seconds. Both laughed and shook hands again before the visitor gave Robust his card and departed. Now was Lara’s chance.

The Bio Rep’s smile reached his steely, gray eyes upon seeing Lara. “Hi! I’m Robust. You must be Lara.”

Lara laughed and looked down at her nametag. “Why, yes. Nice to meet you, Robust.”

“Are you familiar with our company?”

“A bit,” said Lara, taking in the booth. Behind Robust was a ten-foot tall poster showing three pairs of hands, each pair a different color, holding up a globe on which all the continents were put in closer proximity so that they were all visible at the front of the globe. Above the globe was Bio-Microbics logo, as well as its slogan, “Better Water. Better World.” Next to the poster was a secondary table with their catalog on it. On the other side of the poster were a stack of blue media blocks and a tubular filter similar to Aerobe’s skirt.

“Alan Artest recommended you for a project I’m working on, and I just came from Aerobe’s presentation on high-strength wastewater,” she explained.

“Oh, right. Alan’s a good g − ” A loud sound of a heavy catalog falling from the booth next door into his booth interrupted Robust and Lara jumped. Robust merely bent down and handed it back to the other booth.

“Wow, nerves of steel,” said Lara.

“Stainless steel, actually,” Robust said with a wink. “So your project calls for high-strength treatment?”

“Yeah, it’s a truck stop, and it’s out in the country, so hooking up to a sewer isn’t an option.”

“It’s going to have a restaurant?”

“…and a coffee shop, and showers for the truckers,” added Lara as she pulled out her cell phone, “but there’s a twist: there isn’t really room for a drain field, because we’ve got this stream that cuts right through the property, and we need as much parking space as we can get. Here – take a look.”

Robust took the phone, upon which were photos of the site from different angles. He massaged his sturdy, metallic chin with his thumb and forefinger, thinking for a second. “You know, we could just have the effluent exit directly to the stream. It’d be clean enough, and the price is reasonable.”

“I’ve heard that promise before…” said Lara warily. “Local regulations would allow it, but leery that a treatment system can treat high strength wastewater that good.”

“But we can actually keep it. Here’s a few case studies on projects just like yours,” Robust said clearly and emphatically. “..and ask Alan. His was a water reuse project with our BioBarrier® HSMBR® High Strength Membrane BioReactor, if I’m not mistaken”

He was right; Alan would have mentioned a lack of quality if it had been an issue. “What is the difference between HighStrengthFAST® and HSMBR®?”

“FAST® uses submerged fixed-film media as Aerobe may have mentioned in the presentation and the HSMBR uses membranes in compact footprint. Both technologies use aeration to promote aerobic bacteria that consume the organic waste and lesser pathogens from the wastewater. The water is treated to standards for direct discharge or reuse for toilet water and landscape irrigation. Save you some money on your water bill, and still eliminate the need for a drain field,” Robust said.

Lara raised her eyebrows. “That sounds even better. The tank’s underground, right?”

“Right. Only the blower housing is above ground. You can put some bushes around it if you don’t want it seen.”

Lara nodded and pursed her lips, impressed. “Now, I know that you can provide grease interceptors for the kitchen, but Aerobe mentioned your SaniTEE® screen as well.”

Robust went over and picked up the object reminiscent of Aerobe’s skirt. “This is what you’re talking about. They don’t come standard with a HighStrengthFAST®, but most people get them anyway because they do a lot for how little they cost. They’re really good about separating solid particles from liquids before the water is treated. They even intercept some of the kitchen grease that tends to end up going down the drains from getting into the treatment tank.”

Sizing Up Robust

“If I wanted one, what size would I get?” asked Lara as she grasped the tube.

“Given the amount of flow you’re probably going to have, you’d need an eight inch diameter SaniTEE® to deflect particles larger than three-eighths of an inch.”

“And that’s before the bacteria on the media eat the rest of the solids,” Lara finished. She lifted the handle at the top, so that the disc at the bottom of the tube rose, sliding against the SaniTEE®’s interior.

“That’s how you clean it,” Robust said. “Easy, huh?”

Lara nodded. Suddenly, her project just got more design forward and every single complication she had had in looking for the right treatment system now had a solution.

“Well, could I have some more info, Robust?”

“Of course! Here’s my card.”

“Thanks. But you won’t get mine in return…unless you can beat me in arm wrestling.” She says as she places her elbow on the table, just as the previous booth visitor had done.

– Fin –