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The Disgusting Future of Water

We’re back again this week to ruin your appetite with another look into waste water. After our last few articles left lead sales guy Scott unable to eat his breakfast (the pancakes were delicious), we’ve been ordered to write about something clean this week. In that spirit we’re going to look into the future of recycling all sewage into usable water. We advise you finish your breakfast and lunch before reading. Water Shortages Increasingly we are running into a problem with having enough water to drink. Despite the Earth’s surface being about 70% water, we can only drink about 0.01% or less of it. The issue we run into is that ocean water would kill us. There’s too much salt and bacteria in it. This is why we have fresh water and salt water fish. The environments are so drastically different that few, if any fish can survive in both environments. We can only drink water which isn’t from the ocean. This is a massive restriction. It means all of society has to survive on water from lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers. The problem is exacerbated when we experience droughts, which leave us drawing on our water reserves. Unfortunately, for the past century or so, that’s what we’ve been doing. We pump water out of wells and end up draining them faster than they can be replenished. Certain large drink companies make the issue worse by buying water at less […]

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Industrial Clog Removal

Most homeowners are familiar with the tried and true plumbing snake for handling small blockages. It’s a long metal tube, sometimes with a claw or a camera on the end. You can push it into a pipe and force a blockage apart to clear the line. The problem is, this only really works for small pipes and some blockages. What do you use when you’re up against a bigger problem? The Snake’s Flaw The plumbing snake will push through a blockage, but it doesn’t necessarily clean up the line. Even after you’ve pushed a snake through the pipes, all it’ll do is move one obstacle. If there’s waste build up inside the pipe, there will still be reduced flow. It even gets a bit worse: the snake can only relay so much force into the clog. For most significant issues, a plumbing snake is a tool to quickly and temporarily resolve a bigger problem. Waste is building up inside the pipe, similar to how hard water build up can block off the water supply pipes. The snake isn’t as big as the pipe, it only creates a narrow channel or at best pushes a big obstruction apart. The rest of the pipe remains nearly clogged, waiting on a small blockage to seal it up again. In some cases, this issue can be fought chemically, using de-cloggers to break down the blockage. That’s not especially friendly, it’s not fast, and it’s […]

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Efficiently Fighting Clogs

Waste disposal pumps vary in scale and application, like all things with pumps and HVAC technology. Typically chopper pumps are meant for more industrial scale uses, where you’re running an entire county’s waste system. What about smaller scale? Clogs and blockages don’t just occur outside your facility, they happen on the inside too. An Expensive Problem A clog can occur anywhere in the piping. Things get really expensive though depending on just where that clog happens. It’s one thing if your local waste service has a blockage. If the pipes block up an inch over the edge of your property, it’s the waste service’s problem and in principal, their expense to fix. On the other hand, anything in your facility and its grounds is your problem. For a facility such as a hotel, where there might hundreds or even thousands of guests, there can be no clogs or break downs. Your customers will demand refunds if they find themselves standing in a pool of grossness mid-shower. These places need the same levels of reliability as the greater waste management system. Worse than that, with a wide variety of guests, just about anything could end up in the plumbing. Pranksters might try to flush ping pong balls, an intoxicated guest might accidentally flush a toothbrush, and someone will believe that flushable wipes are actually flushable (they’re not, they create massive clogs). There need to be defenses placed against the biggest problems […]

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What Makes a Sewage Pump Special?

Different pumps are needed for different situations. It’s possible to optimize a pump’s design to work in rugged conditions, work under a fluid (submersible pump), to operate precisely (a parastaltic pump), and even to resist clogging in heavy-duty usage. The latter is the type of design that makes a sewer pump special. A Special Kind of Fluid Sewer systems need to process more than just liquid. It turns out sewage is actually made of a lot of solid material that can clog a pump or pipeline. Human waste won’t just break up, it can often remain solid and become an obstacle to a smooth flowing system. This problem is very analogus to flushing golf balls. Eventually one of them will get stuck somewhere, and then others will get stuck, and things like toilet paper will block up the whole pipe. In some cases, clogs like this can be defeated with pressure. If you can exert enough force on something, such as with a plunger, you can break up the blockage and force the material to keep flowing. The only problem is that you need to keep fixing the problem over and over again. And sooner or later, a clog will develop that either burns up the pump or that can’t be fixed without taking apart pipes and being more direct about the problem. This unique waste composition of solids and liquids is a massive issue for sewer systems. It’s not […]

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A Crappy Tunnel

Once upon a time our public rivers and streams were essentially our sewers. In the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon to essentially leave waste in the streets and let it get washed into the river by the rain. In the 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for public sewers to dump raw sewage into the nearest major body of water. In some places, this is even still common practice. In the 1980s, Boston Harbor was one of these places. The Grossest Harbor in the Country Boston’s original sewer system dumped raw sewage 500 feet off the coast line. The belief at the time was that the ocean was so vast that the sewage would be harmlessly diluted. It was the 1800s and Boston was a smaller place back then. For a few decades, the system worked, but as the population grew, it became impossible to wash away that much waste. The entire harbor was soon contaminated with excrement and all the biohazards millions of sick and healthy people produce every day. By the 1940s the contamination was becoming evident, with cloudy, gross water in the harbor. By the 1950s there was some waste treatment, but it wouldn’t be able to keep up with Boston’s growing output. It takes time and space to treat waste like this, and the plants that were built didn’t have enough of either to keep things running smoothly forever. On days when the plants couldn’t keep up, the sewage […]

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The Future of Waste

The blog is back, Happy New Year! Since it is now the future, we’re going to look into something about the future today: the future of toilets. We sell equipment for waste treatment and everything is awesome with science. The science of toilets however, is more than a little dated. The Same Old Technology Toilets as we know them are a pretty old idea. The toilet as we know it, a bowl that flushes with water was first thought of in 1596 and eventually patented in 1775. Nothing else in the world has stayed so simple for as long as the toilet. That original concept was a two foot deep bowl that you flushed with about eight gallons of water, and then would dump into a sewer or other waste-disposal location. Given the time period, it was probably acceptable to dump it in the streets, gross as that sounds. This is essentially the same thing we have today. We have improved the efficiency of the design so it uses less water, made the sewage cleaning process cleaner, and made it smell a little better, but it’s still the same concept, isn’t it? In the intervening centuries we’ve learned about bacteria, viruses, materials science, precision engineering and manufacturing, chemical sanitation, and so much more that could improve the toilet. You might ask: why fix what isn’t broken? In reality, the toilet is very broken. Our entire waste water system is broken, […]

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The Christmas Train

It’s the week before Christmas and most of us in the office didn’t check-in this morning. Our brains are alive with visions of trees, turkeys, and our new toys waiting under the tree. I’m personally trying not to burst into song and dance across the office, singing about Hot-Hot Hot Chocolate, never ever let it cool, hot-hot, yea we got it… Lead Salesman Scott’s giving me the look.. Right… Back to topic. The history of Trains and Christmas! Trains and What? For those of you who have never heard of this, it is fairly common in the United States to have a model train under your Christmas Tree. The famous model train maker Lionel even sells a polar express set designed to go around the tree. This is a tradition that dates back almost to the first steam trains. In some ways, it goes back even farther. From Steam to Electricity Steam engines were a massive symbol of travel, commerce, and industry in the late 1800s. Every Christmas, you didn’t fly home, you took the train. If you shipped something long distance, it took the train. If you were waiting for word from distant family, you probably went to the train station for a telegram. It was a massive, unavoidable part of life. Toy trains would have been common in those days, everything from carved and painted wooden train sets to heavy, drop-this-and-lose-your-foot cast iron trains with wind up motors. […]

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Grading Your Steam

As with all things scientific and industrial, there are ways to quantify just how good steam is and where it can be used. We can think of these as three basic grades of steam: Utility, Culinary, and Pure. These essentially deal with how sterile the steam has to be, how much or how little water vapor it can carry, and what contaminants or additives it can be exposed to. Utility Steam There are numerous applications where the chemical make up of the steam isn’t a terribly big deal. Consider steam used for heating oil pipes. It doesn’t matter if the steam is wet or dry, if it contains any anti-corrosives, or if we put anti-freeze in it to prevent pipe bursts in the return lines. This is steam that’s never going to come into contact with humans, never touch food or clothes, or otherwise be an exposure risk. We put up a nice biohazard sign, some skulls and crossbones on the pipes, a sign that reads “if you drink, touch, or breath this, not only will you die, but it will be slow and painful,” and everything is pretty much set. The same can be said for steam used exclusively used to heat a building or dedicated to other purposes. In these environments, there’s not going to be human exposure, so it’s treated like any other chemical. In these instances, it’s helpful to use additives to extend the life of […]

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Industrial Wet Steam

Let’s recap quick: wet steam is the steam you usually see around your house and basically everywhere not investing seven to eight figure checks in their steam system. This wet-steam carries water vapor, which is the actual white, puffy cloud you see. Dry steam is essentially invisible, hot as fire, and essential in industrial scale productions. That begs the question though, is there an industry for wet steam too? Surely the dry-stuff is better? Moisturizing the Product It turns out, there are a ton of applications where it’s essential to add moisture to a product without actually soaking it. Consider, if you use dry steam, you’re not going to make the product wet, but you will dry it out. Between the heat and zero-humidity air, anything that can evaporate from the product will do so. Dry products presents a wide range of problems. Dry things are often inflexible and brittle. Consider if you leave a shirt in your clothes drier for  hours upon hours (do not do this, you’ll probably start a fire), if it survives, it’ll be rough, stiff, and uncomfortable. Dry steam works well enough for a quick cleaning of clothes, but it’s not good for prolonged exposure. This same thing is true in other types of production, consider something like a paper pill or a printing press. If the paper becomes too dry, it might tear inside the machinery. Excessively dry paper is prone to cracking, tearing, […]

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What Is Dry Steam?

Despite being a centuries old technology, steam is still an essential part of the industrial world. There are a ton of special uses cases for steam in manufacturing, chemical processing, and elsewhere in heavy industry. We use steam for precise temperature control in specialized vacuum systems, for heating oil and fluids over long distances, for electrical turbines, to push fluids through piping such as in distillation towers, to improve burner efficiency, and for drying things. You Do WHAT?! It turns out that steam is actually incredibly useful for drying things, typically clothe things, but it’s been used on paints and other parts of product drying. You mean for WRINKLES in clothes and pants, right? NOPE. Alright, let’s break out the physics. This is actually something weird and incredibly interesting. Starting with the basics. Matter has essentially three states that you’re going to actually experience in day to day life: Solid, Liquid, and Gas. We all know what these look like, right? Solid water is ice. Liquid water is… well tap water, ocean water, lake water, rain. Gas-water is steam, a big, white, puffy, and usually burn-inducing cloud rising up from those noodles I boiled last night (and got the burn on my hand for). It turns out, we’re not entirely right about how we think of steam. That white, puffy cloud steam makes? It’s not a gas. It’s a liquid. If you physically see steam, the thing you’re seeing isn’t […]

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