Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time to get our hands dirty

By De

So far our time here has been spent listening and observing how the Dutch handle their system of water.  This week, its time to start working with our mentors and gaining hands on experience in the lab.  Most of my colleagues are more experienced than myself, but I look at it as I have more room to learn!  I'm very excited to learn learn and learn some more during our visit here, but I also want to be able to bring my knowledge to the table.

Yesterday we met our individual mentors that we will be working with this summer.  We also had a basic orientation of how the lab works and safety precautions that should be considered.  My mentor, Chol Abel, is a PhD student at IHE.  His project deals with SAT (soil aquifer treatment).  This morning, Chol and I went over the lingo that I will be becoming accustomed to while working on this project.  Oh my, so many acronyms! SAT, NOM, DOC, BDOC, SMPs, and so on!

Chol has built an apparatus to simulate water percolating through the soil.  The apparatus consists of: 2 2.5 m pipes in series  filled with sand (the bottom 5 cm is made up of gravel to avoid the sand media to wash through).  The influent water comes from a local waste water treatment plant after it has gone through secondary treatment.  The water is of higher quality than can be expected in practical use, but to start off using highly contaminated water runs the risk of clogging the apparatus.

The idea is to analyze the effectiveness of SAT in removing Nitrogen, Carbon, Phosphate and pathogens.  This analysis is done by the use of many different machines (which I will hopefully be a "pro" at using by the end of my stay here!).  Later in his research, Chol will be varying different aspects of the process to see its effects on the effectiveness of SAT.  He will vary components such as temperature (as effective in summer as in winter or vice versa?) and infiltration rate (which can simulate the effectiveness of media with different porosity).

I'm looking forward to what the summer has in store for me at the UNESO IHE laboratory!

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