Images of fatbergs are often intriguing. They also tend to be gruesome, vulgar and downright nauseating. Not this one, however. An image from a photographic exploration of how fatbergs form in our sewers has been deemed prize worthy. The photo was deemed the winner of National Science’s “Weird and Wonderful” category. At least it’s not another $120,000 banana-taped-to-wall piece of contemporary art. It is what it is- weird, but not so wonderful.
The plaudits go to Natalia Jawiarczyk; an engineering doctorate from the school of Water, Energy and Environment at Cranfield University in the UK. Natalia was exploring how fatbergs form in our sewers and possible methods of dealing with the congealed messes. Natalia studied the way in which fatberg deposits form in our sewers and the photo of interest came about when she detected some unusual behaviour.
Fatbergs from when FOG (Fat, Oils and Grease) meet other objects in the sewers, resulting in massive blobs of hard, sewer clogging environmental issues. The most common offender is improperly disposed of grease and cooking oil from commercial kitchens. When this mixture meets an array of nappies, sanitary products and all else that is carelessly flushed away, a fatberg is the end result. Fatbergs can be as big as a bus and weigh multiple tonnes.
Removal of fatbergs can cost millions in taxpayer money every year, with the UK and Ireland listed as common offenders. On top of the cost, there is a pressing environmental issue involved in removing such toxicity. Plus, let’s spare a moment for the brave workers who have to remove the blobs. Projects can take weeks at a time and often workers resort to using their hands to claw away at the fatbergs…
The award-winning photo above shows a FOG sample on filter paper. In the image, Natalia has used an organic solvent to separate the components. “The aim of Natalia’s study is to establish how deposits form in the sewer network and how they can be effectively degraded and inhibited with bioaugmentation products” (Cranfield University). In other words; studying how fatbergs form and how they can be tackled. We require a greater understanding on the formation of fatbergs, and this image may prove to be very helpful in obtaining such knowledge.
Ultimately, prevention is the best cure. The fatberg epidemic is ongoing, and studies are useful in how to break them down. However, we can all play our part in preventing the fatbergs from forming in the first place. By not pouring grease and cooking oil down our drains, we can work together with Natalia to solve the fatberg crisis.
By changing our habits, we can work together to eliminate fatbergs, save money and help to protect the planet. For more information and advice on how your kitchen can help make a difference, please contact us HERE.