Across the country and the world, wastewater and sewage treatment plays an important role in the sustainability of our environment and the overall cleanliness of our cities, towns and villages.
As with any industry, innovation and the development of new technologies and techniques is a constant focus. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of the projects and ideas coming to fruition in the sewage and wastewater treatment sector.
Self-powered treatment plants
Large scale treatment plants are able to process large volumes of water every day, but they take a lot of power and energy to run. Recent years has seen a large push towards environmental sustainability; solar panels are now a common fixture for many homes across the UK, using natural sunlight to generate electricity and power, for example. While water treatment plants require something a bit more substantial than a few solar panels, there have been developments in creating self-powered treatment plants.
In the US, in Boston, a treatment plant has successfully used microbial fuel cells to generate electricity that powers the plant itself. Electricity is generated by the bacteria that breaks down sewage and cleans wastewater.
Generally, bacteria is used in a wastewater treatment plant to break down solids and clean up the water, however the remaining bacteria requires chemical treatment and disposal at the end of the process. It also reproduces quickly and in large quantities.
By utilising microbial fuel cells, the bacteria processing the sludge and solids generates electricity to power the fuel cell – and growth is also slowed – meaning power is generated without the need for extensive treatment of the remaining bacteria.
With further research and development, it’s hoped that this approach will be able to bring a reliable supply of clean drinking water to many. There is also potential for different plants to use different kinds of bacteria in order to recover useful contaminants from the water. These are then recycled and reused, further improving sustainability outside of wastewater.
Fluid flow simulation
Efficiency is key for any sewage plant, and being able to accurately assess the flow of water through a treatment system allows for a more reliable and effective design from the start. Fluid flow simulation has been successfully used to refit existing sewage works in the UK, replacing pipes and components to specification suggested by software which dynamically analyses the flow through the plant.
The software informs the design and planning stage early on. It makes it much easier for engineers to design complex piping systems that are geared towards varying volumes of wastewater and sewage, while also taking into account any improvements to existing pipe configurations and materials being used.
Put simply, the software allows engineers to accurately decide on improvements needed to make a treatment plant more robust and efficient. These plans are made by studying computational analysis and detailed 3d renderings which can be edited and improved throughout the project. So far, plants that have used the software have seen vastly improved performance – particularly when it comes to separating solids from the wastewater. In the future, implementing this software will also make the design stage of new and refurbished plants much quicker.
For wastewater treatment for homes and businesses, the greener the approach the better. The industry is constantly testing and developing more efficient wastewater treatment materials to cut down on water usage and improve recyclability.
As the world continues on a more sustainable path, being able to treat, process and recycle wastewater and sewage in an efficient, low-impact manner will have a profound effect. On the large scale, treatment plants will see cheaper operating costs while being able to deal with larger amounts of wastewater as technology improves. On smaller scales, towns and cities may eventually see greater fundamental sustainability, with clean drinking water generated through self-powered plants as greener technologies are widely adopted and refined.
Wildon UK provide specialist sewage and drainage services throughout the UK. From pipe replacements and unblocking to domestic liquid waste disposal, our experienced team can offer all the advice you need to keep your drains and sewage system in check. For more information on all of our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today.Go back to