Environmental Remediation Using Hydroponics

Environmental Remediation Using Hydroponics

Photo: A hydroponic system at work. Hydroponics are used for more than just food; read below to find out more. Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation, FHA

Written By Andrew Carter

Did you know that food production isn’t the only use for hydroponics? There’s a whole subset of engineers studying and utilizing ways to filter toxins and use hydroponics as an alternative to the energy intensive and sometimes environmentally degrading common filtration and remediation techniques. One of the most exciting forms of this method is Eco Machine technology, being practiced by Todd Ecological, Living Machines, and many other engineering firms. It may not seem like your traditional hydroponic system, but don’t let that fool you. It’s hydroponic, and it works.  


Photo Credit: The Looper

By filtering wastewater through a series of environmental filters, it’s possible to reduce certain toxins to greywater, and some argue drinking water standards. It’s generally possible through degradation via aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, and then uptake by the various forms of life in the system. Imagine water traveling through a whole ecosystem, getting into the soil, running into the ocean, subjected to all sorts of life. All of this happens in a small scale, highly engineered system, resulting in optimal processing of the water. With fish eating algae and filtering water through their gills, algae absorbing heavy metals, and plants uptaking nitrogen and contaminants, you can have arguably clean water in no time. These systems are not easy to construct, though. Although many aspects are similar to traditional aquaponics, high control and specific parameters are necessary to keep allowing optimum water purification. If a population is relying on this technology for clean irrigation water, it needs to be reliable… always. In addition to this, it’s not recommended to eat any of the plants or fish that come out of the system since they can bioaccumulate all the toxins they’re intended to remove. Over time, this type of technology will be more and more prevalent. As we start to require more passive, less energy intensive ways to clean our water, we’ll move to systems like Living Machines to help us have a better and more environmentally conscious existence.

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