Saniflo Sanicubic 1 lift station provides effective, cost-saving plumbing solution for research vessel in the Caribbean

Mini-Case Study | October 2019
Marine Science And Nautical Training Academy successfully remakes faulty four-toilet plumbing system on an 80-foot teaching vessel, used by students to explore coral reefs.

Problem

MANTA (Marine Science And Nautical Training Academy), a non-profit organization based in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a summer Caribbean field study course on the biology and the conservation of coral reefs. The course is conducted from the mobile base of a large modern vessel that sails through tropical marine habitats, providing students with a unique marine environment to dive into — literally! — each day.

MANTA recently received a generous donation of an 80-foot Burger yacht to customize as a teaching vessel. To prepare for their first expedition aboard the newly christened “RV (research vessel) MANTA,” Rusty Day, Ph.D., President of MANTA, knew he had to fix a serious plumbing problem.

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The original toilets installed in the vessel are pneumatic Microphor Microflush toilets, powered by an air compressor running at 60 pounds per square inch (psi), and a water pump running at 40 psi. The pneumatic flush system previously used air pressure to drive effluent from the toilets into a blackwater tank on the vessel.

The Microphor specifications recommend no more than 18 inches of vertical rise for the 60 psi capacity of the system. But the blackwater tank sits 6 feet above the waste lines, thus exceeding the system’s lifting capabilities. This resulted in the chronic, ugly problem of incomplete discharge, backflow and clogging.

So Day had to find an effective alternative: a system that could accommodate the vessel’s four toilets and with the pumping power to handle the vertical distance from the heads to the vessel’s blackwater tank. Furthermore, the system also had to handle MANTA’s anticipated heavy usage. Each teaching expedition would involve 16-18 people living and working on the vessel for days at a time. “The four heads are going to be getting a lot of use,” says Day.


Solution

To perform that task, MANTA installed a Sanicubic 1 Simplex Grinder System, donated by Saniflo. Day extensive researched various systems, including conventional sewage ejector packages. One option included a Duracast polypropylene tank that required creating new pipe connections and the installation of a small pump and float switch. Moreover, Day would’ve had to fabricate a custom tank to specific dimensions because the vessel’s mechanical room had only limited space for another piece of equipment. “It was looking like a real headache,”says Day.

When Day found the Sanicubic 1 online, he knew it was the perfect solution. Shipped fully assembled, the compact, heavy-duty lift station offered better grinding performance with the capability of pumping up to 50 gallons of effluent per minute. Furthermore, the highly durable plastic enclosure for its pump and grinding blade incorporates four different exterior inlets for incoming waste lines, as well as sophisticated controls and a monitoring system to mitigate servicing issues. The Sanicubic 1 is rated IP68 and comes with an external control and alarm.

“It arrives pre-assembled — a complete package,” says Day. “When I found it online, I was like, Wow this is a really rugged sort of commercial solution for multi-family applications, so it can handle high-volume use. In addition, it’s very compact, fairly sophisticated, yet rugged and durable.”

Back on land, the system is designed for applications where the sewer line or the septic tank sits above or away from the structure. With its four inlets that can accommodate 1-½-inch or 4-inch diameter pipe, the Sanicubic 1 offers greater piping-layout flexibility, which was ideal for the highly confined spaces of the RV MANTA.

Featuring a one-horsepower motor and a fast-rotating stainless-steel cutting blade, the Sanicubic 1 minimizes the possibility of clogs by quickly reducing solids — including larger sanitary products — into a slurry that can be pumped up to 36 feet vertically or 328 feet horizontally through a 1.5-inch, rigid pipe.

Here’s how Day and his 3-person installation team built the new RV MANTA plumbing system:

  • The Sanicubic 1 was positioned inside the mechanical room and five feet below the existing input port at the top of the blackwater tank.
  • Each of the four heads retained its own, 1.5-inch PVC discharge pipe that was formerly connected to the blackwater tank directly, but is now connected to the Sanicubic 1. But instead of connecting each pipe to one of the four input ports on the Sanicubic 1, Day used only two ports by creating two pairs of lines with a Y fitting for each.
  • The resulting pair of discharge lines were equipped with a ball valve and then connected to the Sanicubic 1 with flexible marine-grade sewage hose.
  • The same type of flexible hose was used to link the discharge port of the Sanicubic 1 to the blackwater tank above by connecting it to an existing, vertical, 1.5-inch PVC pipe leading to the tank.
  • The vent hose at the top of the Sanicubic 1 was connected to a fabricated air shaft that vents out on the side of the vessel.

“The installation itself was fairly straightforward,” says Day. “Because you’ve got all those different input options, and the electrical is just ‘plug-in’ — I mean, it couldn’t be any easier. It was just a matter of finding a space for the unit and then routing the pipes to that space.”

Once at sea, the blackwater tank will be evacuated every several days through another length of 1.5-inch PVC discharge pipe with the help of an existing macerator pump (not made by Saniflo). The frequency depends on where the RV MANTA docks, because, according to Day, the blackwater pump-out facilities in the British Virgin Islands can be fairly limited. In most areas, the vessel will go offshore to discharge the blackwater tank into waters offshore where this is permitted. In both discharge scenarios, the pre-grinding capabilities of the Sanicubic 1 are paramount to preventing clogs.


Results

The RV MANTA is set to go on its first student expedition in the summer of 2020. Day anticipates at least five, 15-daytrips annually, with possibly more to come.

According to Day, the Sanicubic 1 system has performed beautifully after testing it on other trips. The 1-HP motor kicks on after four or five flushes of the Microphor toilets. “It runs for just three seconds or so to completely discharge the waste into the blackwater tank. So, it seems to be handling the load with ease,” says Day.

Even though the system was generously donated, the Sanicubic 1, installed, still would’ve been the more economical choice, compared with fabricating a custom system, according to Day. He praises the reliability and “plug-and-play” feature of the system, since it removes the uncertainty of a piecemeal solution and concerns about unsanitary leaks and odors. “The ease of installation saved considerable labor costs,” adds Day.

“The product is outstanding, and the customer service, technical support and follow-up at Saniflo have been exemplary,” he continues. “Everyone at the company has been a pleasure to interact with. I highly recommend Saniflo!”

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ABOUT SANIFLO
SFA SANIFLO U.S.A. – whose parent company originated macerating plumbing technology — offers a complete line of waste and drainage pumping systems for residential and commercial applications. Saniflo developed its innovative, “above-floor plumbing” technology more than a half-century ago and has led its commercialization worldwide. Today, the company markets macerating technology through 24 subsidiaries in 50 countries and has sold more than seven million units worldwide since 1958. Saniflo markets through independent sales agents throughout North America, and the product line is currently available at distributor and dealer locations throughout the United States and Canada.

For more information, contact Saniflo at 1-800-571-8191. Or visit the Saniflo website at saniflo.com.

For editorial assistance, including photography, contact John O’Reilly c/o GreenHouse Digital + PR: 815-469-9100 or john@greenhousedigitalpr.com.




Image Gallery


Side view of the RV MANTA docked in Charleston, SC.

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Dr. Rusty Day (left) and installer Ronald Rampersad (right) in the RV MANTA’s mechanical room. The Sanicubic being installed is in the foreground, center.

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Inside the RV MANTA’s mechanical room, showing the Sanicubic 1 and the 1.5-inch PVC piping to two of the Sanicubic 1’s four input ports.

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Y fitting and valve used to connect discharge pipes from the RV MANTA’s heads.

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Dr. Rusty Day, Melannie Bachman (staff) and MANTA students in the Virgin Islands.

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Illustration by Dr. Rusty Day demonstrating the top and side view of the Sanicubic 1’s position in relation to the vessel’s blackwater tank.

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Illustration by Dr. Rusty Day demonstrating the layout and installation of the Sanicubic 1 system on the RV MANTA.

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