Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the life expectancy of the products?
Biomatrix Floating Ecosystems are constructed with durable materials, which will last for at least twenty years. The main elements for constructing the active islands consist of thermo fused high-density polyethylene floats assembled with laser cut stainless steel joints. This tough structure gives the Floating Ecosystems a solid basis for supporting the media and plants, and can withstand very strong water currents.
2. What maintenance is required?
Biomatrix Floating Ecosystems require minimal maintenance after installation. Plants should be self-sustaining, but occasional trimming or replanting of decorative plants may be required. For Turbo Active Island Reactors the pumps will need maintenance and to have the oil changed on average once per year.
3. What are the differences between your products and other raft systems with external buoyancy?
The main differences between Biomatrix Floating Ecosystems and other solutions in the market are the design and materials that makeup the floating structure, which are more resilient and durable than those used by the competition. We also provide the addition of our proprietary dynamic media, for increased water treatment.
The materials used for constructing the rafts are extremely strong and resilient, primarily HDPE and Stainless steel, no PVC or styrofoam is used. Biomatrix Floating Islands are able to withstand severe weather and flood conditions, fast flowing waters and variable water levels.
The dynamic media provides a significant increase in the retention capability of water pollutants increasing the surface of the root system to provide an appropriate space for the colonization of bacteria, which absorb pollutants.
4. What is the role of plants in the Active Ecosystems?
The plants serve several important functions. The roots of the plants provide a habitat for colonies of beneficial micro-organisms called biofilms, which help to clean the water and breakdown pollutants. The plants add beauty and green space to urban and rural environments, and can be designed to transform hard edged rivers or canals into natural living waterways or to stand out with colourful flowers and garden designs. They also provide habitat for a diversity of species.
The plants grow first on a basis of natural fibers, which provides them with the holding media needed until the roots are deep enough. Once they are established, they grow as if it were a natural aquatic ecosystem, with its cycles of growth and regeneration. The diversity increases with the addition of other naturally dispersed seeds and plant propagules and with the influence of wildlife, birds or amphibians.
5. What is the role of the Dynamic Media? Do all your installations have the dynamic media column?
The installation of the dynamic media column is an option that depends on the main function of the floating ecosystem. Its installation enhances the water quality performance of the system and its ability to treat pollution, by simulating and increasing root surface area available for bacterial colonisation, which breaks down the pollutants.
5a. What is the Dynamic Media made out of?
The dynamic media is made from a synthetic fiber that is woven into a column using stainless steel wire and is specially designed to offer the maximum amount of surface area available for bacterial colonization. One meter of dynamic media column equals approximately 15 m2 of root surface.
5b. How do you ensure that the Dynamic Media Columns remain attached to the island and not protrude from the edge of the island with the current?
Securing of the dynamic media columns to the Floating Ecosystem structure is done using 3mm high resistance wire, which ensures they will remain securely in place underneath the islands.
6. What are typical applications for your systems?
- Eutrophic lakes and ponds
- Nutrient laden rivers
- Open wastewater canals
- Water features, ponds & pools
- Wastewater treatment for new or existing developments
7. What would happen if the Floating Ecosystems were hit by boats, would they be damaged?
The floating structure is highly durable and it is unlikely that it would be damaged if it were hit by a boat. We recently drove a full size lorry over one of the systems on land to test it’s strength and there was no damage.
In a collision, it is possible that the plants would be the most affected element in the Floating Ecosystem and the substrate that supports the plants could be separated from the structure. In that case, it would be possible to recover the Floating Ecosystem by replacing a new coconut fiber substrate and plants.
8. What is the likelihood of the Floating Ecosystems tipping over?
The likelihood of the Floating Ecosystems tipping over is very low. The modules are fixed together to create a structure with a large surface area, which is difficult to overturn. In addition, the systems are anchored to the bottom of the water body to prevent them from moving.
9. Can people walk on the Floating Ecosystems?
The standard Biomatrix Floating Island or Floating Riverbank is not designed to be used for human recreation, because the attachment system between modules is relatively flexible, which allows the islands adapt to the fluctuating flow, but is therefore wobbly to walk upon. Deluxe specially engineered systems can be designed and built to allow for increased buoyancy and stability that would suit recreational purposes, walkways, or structures.
10. Who do you work with and for?
We work with and for local and national governments, NGO’s, developers, landscape architects, engineers, water networks and concerned citizens.
11. Which countries do you work in?
We have worked in England, Scotland, USA, Spain, Finland, the Philippines, India, China, Russia and Bolivia. We are open to exploring work possibilities worldwide.
12. Can you provide empirical evidence for water quality improvement through the use of Biomatrix systems? What kind of retention times are required for these effects?
There are several scientific researchers studying the pollution treatment rates that the Floating Ecosystems (Floating Treatment Wetlands as cited in scientific literature) can achieve. These rates have a wide range of variation depending on variables such as the types and levels of pollutants, and the volume and flow of the water body. However, all of the research indicates that the floating treatment wetlands offer a significant improvement in water quality, mainly reducing the levels of organic matter, suspended solids, nutrients (Nitrogen and Phosphorus) and metals. Biomatrix also conducts our own water testing analysis and our findings are in line with the current scientific research. Below is a table providing data that summarizes the existing scientific research:
Borne, K.E. et al., 2013. Floating treatment wetland retrofit to improve stormwater pond performance for suspended solids, copper and zinc. Ecological Engineering, Vol 54, pp 173-182.
Chang, N.B., et al., 2012. Floating wetland mesocosm assessment of nutrient removal to reduce ecotoxicity in stormwater ponds. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, Vol 9, pp 453-462.
Headley, T.R. and Tanner, C.C., 2007. Floating wetlands for stormwater treatment: Removal of copper, zinc and fine particulates. ARC Technical Report 2008-030. Auckland Regional Council, New Zealand.
Headley, T.R. and Tanner, C.C., 2012. Constructed wetlands with floating emergent macrophytes: an innovative stormwater treatment technology. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 42:21, pp 2261-2310.
Karnchanawong, S. and Sanjitt, J., 1995. Comparative study of domestic wastewater treatment efficiencies between facultative pond and water spinach pond. Water Science and Technology, Vol 32, pp 263-270.
Li, X.N., Song, H.L., Li, W., Lu, X.W. and Nishimura, O. 2010. An integrated ecological floating-bed employing plant, freshwater clam and biofilm carrier for purification of eutrophic water. Ecological Engineering, Vol 36, pp 382-390.
Stewart, F.M. et al., 2008. Floating islands as an alternative to constructed wetlands for treatment of excess nutrients from agricultural and municipal wastes – results of laboratory-scale tests. Land Contamination & Reclamation, Vol 16 (1), pp 25-33.
Sukias, J.P.S., Park, J., Headley, T.R. and Tanner, C.C., Submitted. Nutrient removal from eutrophic waters by floating treatment wetlands. Science of the Total Environment.
Van der Moortel, A.M.K., 2008. Use of floating macrophyte mats for treatment of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). 11th Conference on Urban Drainage, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Van der Moortel, A.M.K., Meers, E., De Pauw, N. and Tack, F.M.G., 2010. Effects of vegetation, season and temperature on the removal of pollutants in experimental floating treatment wetlands. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, Vol 212, pp 281-297.
White, S.A. and Cousins, M.M., 2013. Floating treatment wetland aided remediation of nitrogen and phosphorus from simulated stormwater runoff. Ecological Engineering, Vol 61, pp 207-215.
Wu, Q.T., Gao, T., Zeng, S. and Chua, H. (2006). Plantz-biofilm oxidation ditch for in situ treatment of polluted waters. Ecological Engineering, Vol 28, pp 124-130.
Yang, Z., Zheng, S., Chen, J. and Sun, M. 2008. Purification of nitrate-rich agricultural runoff by a hydroponic system. Bioresource Technology, Vol 99, pp 8049-8053.