Skip navigation

New Water Reclamation Project Afloat in China

China's first mobile oxygenation barge is floating on the Suzhou Creek, a highly polluted stream that flows through Shanghai, the country's largest city.

China''s first mobile oxygenation barge is floating on the Suzhou Creek, a highly polluted stream that flows through Shanghai, the country''s largest city. The self-sufficient barge represents the first step in a 12-year plan to rehabilitate the creek, and is China''s most ambitious water reclamation project to date.

The plan to clean up the creek was launched in 1998 with the creation of the Shanghai Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation and Construction Company (SSRCC). Its goal was to rehabilitate the Suzhou Creek in order to re-establish an ecosystem and increase the public health standard for nearby residents.

Stretches of the 125km Suzhou Creek reached anaerobic conditions, which means there are insufficient levels of oxygen to support fish or other aquatic life. Pumping oxygen into the water, through the barge, will assist the natural process of decomposition of pollutants and the restoration of oxygen levels needed to sustain aquatic life.

The oxygenation barge was officially handed over to the Chinese government in November 2001 by BOC Environmental Solutions Group, a subsidiary of BOC Group, the worldwide industrial gases, vacuum technologies and distribution services company. The Environmental Solutions Group was organized to take advantage of growth opportunities in environmental services such as air and water emissions, waste treatment, energy emissions and clean fuels.

The barge contains a BOC Novox oxygen generator and two Vitox oxygen injectors. Water from Suzhou Creek is withdrawn from the river, oxygenated on the barge at a rate of five tons per day, and then returned to the river via 20 Vitox distribution nozzles mounted on each side of the barge.

This is the latest version of technology that BOC developed for use in two other barges - the Thames Bubbler and Vitality - located on stretches of the Thames River in England. Two delegations from SSRCC visited Vitality and talked with BOC engineers in Guildford, UK, before awarding BOC the contract for the Suzhou Creek project.

At the official dedication ceremony, which took place in Shanghai on November 2, 2001, Chinese environmental officials said they had originally planned to build several land-based oxygenation stations along the banks of Suzhou Creek, but decided it would be more effective to use a mobile oxygenation station to deal with shock load during emergencies. "The barge can go wherever it is needed to improve the oxygen level quicker and cultivate beneficial aerobic bacteria," noted a spokesperson from SSRCC.

In a complex feat of engineering and international cooperation, the entire oxygenation system was built by BOC in the United Kingdom to strict international standards, and shipped to Shanghai where BOC and Chinese engineers worked together to design and build the barge and install the environmental equipment.

"This project is a great example of BOC''s commitment to delivering global environmental solutions," says David Jinkins, projects manager, customer engineering services, BOC. "Local co-ordination was provided by our office in Shanghai, with all design, engineering and project management provided by engineers from BOC''s office in the UK.

"We consider it the first step in a long and mutually-beneficial partnership," he added.

As part of the long-range plan for the cleanup of Suzhou Creek, the barge will undergo performance tests over the next six months on a locked off portion of the stream. If it meets its targeted oxygenation objectives, China is likely to build as many as six additional oxygenation barges.

China has also targeted Lake Taihu at the headwaters of Suzhou Creek for environmental clean up. The Jiangsu Environmental Protection Bureau has announced that they will invest $1.76 billion over the next five years to build 65 wastewater treatment plants to counter the inflow of industrial and agricultural waste from nearby areas.

Further information about the BOC Group may be obtained at

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.