Presented by Murray R Hall, PhD Candidate, Geography Planning and Environmental Management, UQ and Research Scientist, CSIRO
Some 300 years ago Jonathan Swift parodied resource recovery from sewage. Gulliver, in his travels to the Island of Laputa, met the Professor at the Grand Academy who sought to ‘reduce human Excrement to its original Food, by separating the several Parts, removing the Tincture which it receives from the Gall, making the Odour exhale, and scumming off the Saliva’ (Swift 2003) p168.
Fact often being stranger than fiction, some of the technical ideas that Swift parodied are now possible - although not in the products that Swift suggests. Yet Swift still holds a few lessons for resource recovery and social barriers; Swift extracts humour (perhaps bad humor?) from sewage via the imagery of direct recycling of resources. Although many of the ‘wild and impossible Chimeras’ of the political system that he parodied have changed, there still remain a number of social barriers to direct re-use of resources despite the technical innovation of the past three centuries.
This presentation explores the technical innovation for resource recovery from waste water and the economic and social barriers to its realisation.