Making Waste Water Management Operations Reliable and Affordable
Waster water management operations rely on a plethora of moving mechanical, biological, and electrical processes that work together in a complex ecosystem in order to process, remove, and clean waste. Without these processes working together harmoniously serious issues can arise that could result in excessive use of electricity, early failures of components, or a public health crisis. Most of these plants rely on a biological treatment process that requires optimal levels of oxygen to be present to keep bacteria alive.
Overview of Dissolved Oxygen Process in Waste Water Management
In the biological treatment of wastewater, bacteria are used to help break down waste and clean the water to be disinfected. These microorganisms require optimal levels of oxygen which they use as energy when cleaning wastewater. The oxygen is dissolved into the wastewater through the use of large industrial blowers and diffusers to ensure the microorganisms have enough energy.
Dissolved oxygen (DO) is defined in biological treatment as the measure of oxygen dissolved in wastewater available to sustain the life of living bacteria. If the dissolved oxygen content is too low, the environment is not stable enough for the bacteria and they will die resulting in the waste not being properly treated. If the dissolved oxygen content is too high, energy is wasted because blowers are operating higher than necessary leading to inefficient processes including high electricity costs.
Shifting Perspective: Energy’s Grip on the Industry
Currently, large industrial, high voltage fans are run, often 24 hours a day, at varying RPMs to accommodate varying aeration dissolved oxygen rates assessed by sensors. These fans consume immense amounts of energy, with electricity consumption for wastewater treatment plants using more than 30 terawatt-hours per year in the United States, roughly equating to $2 billion in energy costs. Energy costs alone can account for 25% to 40% of a plant’s annual operating budget and are quite often one of the biggest single consumers of energy in a municipality.
So given this information, how has the industry reacted?
In recent years, the wastewater treatment sector has pushed to upgrade its operations and evolve to a future where lower energy consumption and more renewable power are prevalent. This can be traced to when the Water Environment Federation (WEF) among others formally replaced “wastewater treatment facility” with “water resource recovery facility”. This national green imitative aims for facilities to become more closed-loop, rich in resource extraction, and less dependent on fossil fuels.
Optimizing Electricity Usage with Predictive Analytics
Over the past decade, an increase in the amount of data has allowed for the advancement of algorithmic capabilities, specifically predictive modeling and analytics. Predictive analytics and machine learning applications can optimize wastewater operations and reduce waste by making suggestions for changes based on predicted outcomes in pumps, valves, blowers, and other industrial equipment.
With these new capabilities, decision-makers can receive early warnings for equipment maintenance and component failures. These algorithms can also provide real-time feedback to system controls, allowing for seamless optimization of the dissolved oxygen process, reducing energy costs, and maintaining an efficient process for wastewater treatment.
Predictive Analytics: A No-Brainer in Water Treatment
Predictive analytics has been adopted across various high-tech industries including aviation, transportation logistics, and supply chain management. Freya Systems has been implementing advanced predictive analytics for maintaining the fleet readiness of aircraft in the US military for over 10 years.
Although these tools have been historically reserved for big entities, we see the value of transferring this technology to a new application in the Utility sector. The costs benefit, equipment longevity and sustainability drivers make the adoption of these tools a no-brainer for wastewater management operations.
If you would like to learn more about predictive analytics for your business, please give us a ping.