According to the Central Pollution Control Board report 2020-21, there are a total of 1,631 Sewage Treatment plants in India. Out of which 1,093 plants are operational, 102 are non-operational, 274 are under construction, and 162 are proposed for construction. Many of the operating plants do not comply with the central government criteria. If these systems do not work effectively, it increases the risk of repairs, operational costs, and massive fines as effluent amounts elevate in the treated water. Moreover, the government is developing rigorous rules regarding wastewater treatment and discharge of water in natural streams. With water scarcity as a backdrop, wastewater treatment is a burning need, and it increases pressure on municipalities and industries to improve the efficiency of water treatment. Thus, it is essential to create more wastewater treatment plants and imperative for existing plants to work efficiently.
Ways to improve water treatment plant efficiency:
1. Supervision of the following criteria
- Effluent amount:
The most common sign is the effluent quantity. As the effluent increases, it reduces wastewater treatment plant efficiency. In India, the Central Pollution Control Board fabricates stringent regulations for effluent emission limits. Hence, industries and municipalities must improve the quality of effluent released in rivers and lakes.
- Cost of operation:
Many industrialists do not consider investments in wastewater treatment plants, though they spend significant capital to meet emission limits. In addition, working with the old-time equipment is expensive as they require high maintenance, repairs and can experience frequent breakdowns. However, investment in upgrading and renewal of mechanisms is worth it as it increases the efficiency of the water treatment plant.
- Cost of chemicals
Plant operators use many chemicals in water treatment to meet the discharge limits, resulting in high chemical bills. The major chemical consumption is the use of carbon for the denitrification process. Chlorine and dechlorination are also costly and require extensive energy to manufacture. However, UV light disinfection systems can replace chlorine and dechlorination chemicals to reduce chemical costs. Elimination and replacement of expensive chemicals are necessary because, in addition to mechanical deficiency, these chemical bills may also increase operating costs.
2. Internal audit of the systems
- Pump stations
Traditional wastewater treatment plants use pumps based on peak plant flow, which results in more water and energy use. However, constant speed pumps can be modified with Variable Frequency Drive to reduce water and energy use by 50%. Therefore, replacing or upgrading traditional pumps is essential to improve the water treatment plant efficiency.
- Aeration systems
The aeration systems in wastewater treatment plants use 50% annual electricity. Air distribution system components and blowers can be upgraded with variable frequency drives along with dissolved oxygen control systems that can reduce electricity consumption. In addition, High-efficiency turbo blowers can be controlled based on dissolved oxygen and replace aging blowers.
- Other accessories
Conventional filters may use more than necessary backwash water and energy. Hence, it is required to supervise existing infrastructure to improve the work efficiency of wastewater treatment plants. Similarly, upgrading to a high-density sludge process can reduce water use and minimize sludge disposal costs.
- Recovery of essential nutrients
Recovery of phosphorous from wastewater treatment can produce commercial-grade fertilizer, as it is a vital component of fertilizer. In addition, phosphorous recovery creates a new source of earning and reduces the load of phosphorous in the natural water stream.
- Reuse of energy
Wastewater treatment plants consume a considerable amount of power, but wastewater contains a significant amount of organic matter, which can produce energy. Organic matter is recovered as sludge and treated in anaerobic digester tanks to generate biogas. When energy is created on-site, it can cover a significant amount of power consumption of the wastewater treatment plant. Moreover, sludge pre-treatment can increase the biogas yield.
- Maximize gravity use
If the water flow in the wastewater treatment plant is considered, gravitational force can replace electric motors. The down flow process can use gravitational energy in place of motors to pull down the water flow. It eliminates the regular examination of motors and addresses the downtime problem.
- Install smart technology
Industries ignore smart technology installation due to a false impression of the hassle that follows, like high operational costs, technical knowledge, and expertise. In contrast, smart technologies require less workforce and are easy to handle. For example, supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) can automate the plant functions and provide real-time treatment process data. Moreover, such technologies identify wastewater trends and energy consumption trends and help make practical decisions.
- Set a goal
Setting a benchmark is a vital factor in achieving performance targets. It helps the managers and plant operators to identify operational gaps, trends and employ strategies to rectify the gaps and meet goals.
- Analyze the data
Traditional water treatment plants were designed without much consideration of data collection, but managers and plant operators must monitor the efficiency parameters. Efficiency parameters include leaks, filter quality, and backwash rates. Data analysis helps identify the need for further improvements, adjustments, and energy use.
Benefits of improving the efficiency of the wastewater treatment plant
- Regular supervision, modification, and up-gradation of wastewater treatment plants save energy. 10-20% energy can be saved with better control and optimization of the operational processes.
- Lighting, heating, and cooling require a vast amount of energy. However, improvisation of conventional technologies diminishes maintenance costs and saves money.
- Efficient wastewater treatment plants resulting in greater yield.
All the factors mentioned above will improve the efficiency of the wastewater plant, but it is essential to invest in the right technology. To take maximum advantage of your capital investment, it is necessary to get equipment from a trusted source. Enhanced efficiency of wastewater treatment plants will improve industrial operations and yield.