The vortex bioreactor (VBR) is a simple decentralised water treatment system (DeWaTS) that sits at the interface between swirl flow, biotechnology and chemical engineering. The device utilises swirl flow and suspended activated beads to achieve downstream water processing and has been tested for applications including centrifugal-driven separation, pathogen neutralisation and metal absorption. The VBR was optimised for the treatment of faecally contaminated effluents in the developing world, and the design features related to the key challenges faced by the wastewater industry are highlighted here. The VBR has two aspects that can be modified to generate different reactor conditions: the impeller, where the swirl flow is modified through alterations of rotation speed, and impeller geometry and the suspended activated beads, which facilitate mixing and alter the reactor surface area. Data from testing for some of the different applications mentioned above are presented here, and future planned developments for the technology are discussed.
Part of the book: Vortex Structures in Fluid Dynamic Problems