Thursday, September 29, 2011

Of music, microbes and muck!

I've posted many articles from The Local on this blog over the years. It began as an English-language news Web site covering Sweden; added a second site to cover Germany; and has recently tacked on two more to cover Switzerland and France. However, I don't think I've found a stranger story than this one on any of its sites!

Operators of a sewage treatment plant in eastern Germany have saved around €10,000 [about US $13,500] over the last year – apparently by playing Mozart to their microbes. They are now calling for scientists to come and investigate.

Roland Meinusch, manager of the plant in Treuenbrietzen, Brandenburg, said the plant some 70 kilometres southeast of Berlin produced 1,000 cubic metres less sewage sludge than normal last year – and the only thing he had changed was the music.

“We play them Mozart’s Magic Flute, on a half-hour loop,” he told The Local.

The better the microbes work, the more they digest the sewage, producing more clean water and less sludge.

“And the less sludge we produce, the less we have to pay to farmers for them to put it on their fields,” said Meinusch.

. . .

He said he was approached by a company making special loudspeakers which had supposedly achieved interesting results at a sewage plant in Austria and wanted to try out their idea at a plant with more advanced technology.

“Last March, we fitted in the speakers and started playing the music to the microbes. They are very sensitive to environmental factors, particularly to temperature, and so at first nothing was really happening and in May we nearly stopped the experiment," he said.

But after a local newspaper reported about the test, the amount of interest generated was great, that the plant managers decided to continue.

“After a year, we were left with 6,000 cubic metres of sludge, compared with the usual 7,000 cubic metres we produce in a year. That saved us about €10,000 which is quite a lot of money," Meinusch said.

There's more at the link.

This is most intriguing. Just consider the possibilities for future research:

  • If opera produces less sludge, would other varieties of classical music do likewise, or could one tailor the music to the desired quantity, quality and smelliness of output?
  • Would live music produce greater effects, or would the stench of the sewage lead to a symphonic strike?
  • Could this be weaponized? I mean . . . if you surreptitiously replaced your enemy's Dvorak tapes with death metal, would The Blob rise up out of their sewage plants and wreak havoc?

Heaven alone knows what Wagner would produce! "The Ride Of The Valkyries", repeated ad nauseam on a tape loop, ought to make any self-respecting microbe positively mutinous!



Cybrludite said...

I wonder which would make a more damaging blob: Playing Amon Amarth or Meshuggah?

Dave H said...

I wonder how the average American state legislature would respond. Reducing the output of the New York State Assembly would save lots of money.

FrankC said...

So nothing to do with the sound waves creating a better agitation of sewage and microbes?

A Critic said...

“And the less sludge we produce, the less we have to pay to farmers for them to put it on their fields,”

And the less sludge consumed by unwary consumers?

Ever think about where everything goes after you flush it? Your dinner plate!