NRC Canada Developing Improved Techniques for Sewage Treatment

The National Research Council Canada is developing a new technology called BioElectrochemical Anaerobic Sewage Treatment (BEAST). The intent is to develop improved techniques for sewage treatment operations in challenging northern conditions.

Pilot testing of the BEAST system is being conducted in a variety of conditions and geographical locations, including Grande Prairie, AB. The 24 cubic metre system in Alberta is the first phase in a larger community sewage treatment plan. So far, the tests have achieved high waste removal in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Celsius.

Other testing sites include:

  • Montreal, QC
  • Cambridge Bay, NU
  • Alaska
  • Greenland

It is hoped the BEAST technology will be able to treat sewage in many of Nunavut’s smaller communities, which have been treating wastewater in lagoons that eventually drain into the ocean. Tougher federal discharge standards have come into force in recent years, but Nunavut has been exempt, so far.

Anne Barker, Arctic program leader at the National Research Council, says one use for the BEAST would be to deploy a unit to a Nunavut community with an overloaded sewage lagoon, to help reduce its sludge output.

For those interested in more of the science behind the system the paper titled “Bioelectrochemical anaerobic sewage treatment technology for Arctic communities” was published in the 25th issue of Environmental Science and Pollution Research in January 2017.