Clean up the Past
The groundwater was enormously polluted by heavy metals. Industry made an essential contribution to water pollution. Sewage has polluted our soils. A biological water treatment process has been developed. Here, one uses the filtering effect of the water hyacinth. Heavy metals are deposited in the roots of the free-floating plant, which are delivered to collecting stations and then burned to recover the valuable metals. Through genetic modification, the leaves of the hyacinth contain the exact amount of minerals required by the human body during the day. The stems of the plant are used to make utensils. The knife for harvesting the plants and the beater for compacting the braided tissues are made from old agricultural machines. The tools are drop-forged.
|project:||urban mining – urban tooling|
The Blue Gold
by Tatjana Simbürger
The world’s population is constantly growing. The increasing demand for resources is becoming more and more problematic. Water resources are particularly affected. Worldwide, 2 million tons of industrial sewage are disposed off in water every day. It is important to look into alternative possibilities for water treatment.
It‘s early in the morning. I stroll through the rows of water basins, which are laid out are like raised beds ( 1 meter in width and 8 meters in length ), in our yard of the residential complex. The air is humid and warm due to the glass roofing. Exactly the right tropical climate for the growth of thick-stemmed water hyacinths, which cover the water like a green, thick carpet. We use phytoremediation for water purification. In recent decades, the groundwater has been enormously polluted by heavy metals. A trigger for this was the advancing coal mining. More and more coal was mined. If one mine was exhausted, the next was opened immediately. The mine water, which had entered the colliery after the mining had ceased, finally reached the groundwater. But industrial waste and agriculture also made an essential contribution to water pollution. Waste water polluted our soils. A biological water treatment process was developed. Here the filtering effect of the water hyacinth is used. Heavy metals are deposited in the roots of the free-swimming plant. It even absorbs oil films on the water surface. Due to water pollution our coexistence has changed a lot. Urbanisation is well advanced. However, we live in multi-generational housing projects, which are all largely self-sufficient.
Through genetic modification, the leaves of hyacinths contain the exact amount of minerals that the human body needs during the day. We feed exclusively on them and insects. We no longer farm large areas. Each housing project has its own preparation and food source. The polluted water runs through pipes into the basins and is cleaned there by the fast growing plants. The clean water is then passed through a filter system, which detects whether all pollutants have been removed, to the water supply system of the house. The basins are just so large that I can easily harvest the precious spatula-shaped leaves with a tool. Every morning, I take care of the food for the whole house. I also check the plants. After about a year, they can no longer take up and store metals. When the time comes, I remove the affected water hyacinths from the water and separate the individual plant parts with a knife. I hand over the roots in a collection station. They are collected and burned in order to recover the rare stored metals. The leaves are processed into a salad as usual. I hang the stems up to dry. Then they are pressed and twisted.
We manufacture our furniture from these strands. For this I use a certain tool. One side is shaped like a beater. I need it to compress the braided structures to create a stable fabric. The drop-forged tool runs out in a kind of hook, with which I can bend the stems in a certain direction by lever force. This is practical for handles or chair backs. The end also serves as a suspension.
Water purification, phytomining, food extraction and utensils. Thus the complete plant finds use in our everyday life.