ETE researcher Elackiya Sithamparanathan won the ‘Best Presentation Award’ for her oral presentation at the 6th BeNeLux Young Water Professionals Conference, held from February 12-14 in Luxembourg. Her talk, ‘Vital Urban Filter: A novel solution to remove micropollutants from urban wastewater for healthy reuse.’ was chosen as the winner from a total of 44 presentations. The organizing committee highly appreciated her visual and concise performance, highlighting the importance of the topic on water treatment solutions.
Clean urban wastewater
The scientist presented a novel water treatment technology, a so-called ‘Vital Urban Filter’ (VUF), to more effectively clean urban wastewater using biological, chemical and physical processes. In many of India’s big cities, wastewater is not treated at all, and is discharged in local rivers. Nevertheless, people use this polluted water for irrigation and other purposes. The use of her VUF provides a cost-effective and efficient water treatment method.
Schematic representation of the VUF design.
To improve the water quality of India’s big cities, Indian and Dutch research institutes collaborate within the LOTUS project to implement effective wastewater treatment methods.
Elackiya’s VUF forms a crucial stage in the technology. It is based on the
traditional constructed wetlands, where filter materials, plants, microbiota
and sunlight remove pollutants from wastewater. However, due to a different design and using filter materials like coco peat, there is increased plant growth and microbiological activity. This results in a more effective pollutant removal. The use of ornamental plants, instead of marsh plants, adds a vital economic benefit.
Elackiya thinks she won the prize because of the importance of the topic she addressed. Also, her research purpose, solid reasoning regarding the
experimental set-up and selection of contaminants to be removed probably contributed to her winning format. But she also made her presentation very attractive by using many images and graphs. ‘Pictures from the experimental site, the use of graphs as well as the overall structured presentation helped me to convey the message’, she says. ‘The audience was clearly attracted to the visual aspects of my talk.’