A 'SPACE AGE' membrane used to filter water at Southampton's newest treatment work is so large it could almost stretch from Southampton to Houston, Texas – home of Nasa.

As part the multi-million pound redevelopment of Woolston treatment works in John Thornycroft Road, the water company have installed a ‘space-age’ MBR filtration system.

The 3.87million membrane fibres in the membrane have a combined length length of 7741km –just 15km short of the distance from the city to Houston.

This system will remove nearly 100 per cent of bacteria and solids, ensuring any water released from the works meets strict EU Bathing Water directive relating to bacteria counts for E.coli and Intestinal Enterococci.

Southern Water Project Manager, Richard Hodgson, said: "The MBR is one of many innovative and technologically advanced improvements made at Woolston to ensure the resilience of the wastewater treatment works lasts long into the future.

"This ensures Southern Water maintains its obligations to the Environment Agency and continues on the journey of providing our customers the most efficient and effective wastewater treatment works at Woolston. The MBR is an innovative use of the advancing technology of ultra-filtration and biological treatment.”

Now for the science bit. The MBR is made up of an eight-lane structure, each lane contains five modules. These modules contain 36 rows each with eight bundles and each bundle contains 336 two-meter long membrane fibres.

The ultra-filtration is carried out by passing the wastewater over the 3.87million membrane fibres and using pumps to draw the wastewater through its pores. It then uses a special system known as Pulsion – which passes a bubble or ‘pulse’ of air up through the membrane fibres, constantly removing any accumulated sludge out of the modules.

Chemical cleaning cycles are then carried out every couple of days to limit microbiological growth on the membranes.

The redevelopment scheme at Woolston is scheduled to finish in September 2019.

The site was first opened in1966 and the upgrade began in 2014.

A new temporary treatment works was built in Victoria Road to operate during demolition of the existing works and construction of the permanent site.

Demolition of the redundant structures from the old site were completed in spring 2016 and the following autumn saw the start of construction of concrete structures

The redevelopment will significantly reduce the smells coming from the site and residents should start to see improvements as the redevelopment progresses, say Southern water.