ITPWC is a phytoremediation device based on the Eco-Machine systems developed by Dr. John Todd* and research done by the ITPWC team on aquaponics systems. Built in the men’s bathroom on the ITP floor, our inspiration for this project was to create a system that made a positive impact on air quality while also improving the overall ambiance of the space.
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaponic systems are designed to grow plants and fish symbiotically in one integrated system. The fish waste provides a food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water that the fish live in.
A large scale aquaponic system build on the Eco-Machine paradigm has been designed to filter human-created wastes from water, so that water can be recycled for human usage. This system lives at the Omega Center in upstate New York. Two members of ITPWC team had an opportunity to visit Omega, and get a tour of this new inspirational creation.
To track the impact that this system had on the air quality in the men’s room, we installed sensors that measure changes in the level of methane and solvent vapors. These sensors were attached to an Arduino that uploaded average readings every five minutes to data feed on Pachube.
Here is an overview of how the different components in this system work together to create a symbiotic ecosystem and to remediate the water:
- Aquaculture: The fish living in this component excrete waste and ammonia into the water, which will act as fertilizer for the plants. Water is pumped up to the grow bed and then gravity does the rest to keep things moving.
- Phytoremediation: These plants remove chemical vapors from the air, as well as help rid the water of pollutants. They absorb nutrients from the nitrate-rich water and produce oxygen at a high rate. Plants used include dresden, boston fern, golden pathos, english ivy, peace lily.
- Aquaticremediation: Aquatic plant roots provide habitat for waste eating microbes. Filter feeders, like the clams in this system, help remove algae and other toxic particulates from the water. Plants used include penny worts, banana plant, freshwater plant, freshwater flat clams, and duckweed.
- Bio-Filter: The bio-filter is an anaerobic environment (no oxygen) where micro-organisms and bacteria strip any excess ammonia, nitrates, nitrites and phosphorus that remain in the water. The mud used to inoculate the system comes from Prospect Park lake in Brooklyn.
I want to thank the ITP WC team for all the hard that they devoted in building this system. We all wore many hats on this project but I want to give credit where it is due. Macaulay took the lead on the physical design and production of this living system, while Adib became our resident aquaponic/eco-machine expert, and Marko led the way in creating the communications for to system.
Here are some pictures from the installation itself: