Reducing Energy Usage in Wastewater Treatment

Water and wastewater systems are significant energy consumers with the treatment of water and wastewater. Water shortages, higher energy and material costs, and a changing climate are growing issues of water-energy usage. It is in the best interest for utilities to find efficiencies, both in water and energy use. Performing energy audits at water and wastewater treatment facilities is one way can identify opportunities to save money, energy, and water.

Water and waste- water facilities can be among the largest consumers of energy in a community due to the constant use of pumps, motors, and other equipment operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week,

There are many ways to reduce energy consumption, which can improve the bottom line or provide regulatory-rate relief. The following suggestions will benefit now or in the future to reduce their carbon footprint.

Operational Changes

Facilities should regularly evaluate the condition, performance and remaining useful life of process equipment. Aging equipment is more inefficient, can be costly to repair, and typically requires more energy than newer models. Given that the process that consumes that largest amount of energy in a wastewater treatment plant is the aeration step, this should be a starting point for efficiencies. For a wastewater treatment plant, the multitudes of motors and pumps are dynamic and tend to fall out of calibration over time. To maintain their optimal performance, facilities should be recommissioned every three to five years

Optimize Aeration

Energy saving can be found by installing alternative aeration systems. These systems usually account for more than 50% of a facility’s total electrical consumption. Blowers are a high efficiency and low cost upgrade for existing wastewater treatment plant installations. Upgrading blowers and air distribution systems will decrease the electricity consumption.

Renewable energy

Converting wastewater into renewable energy will help to increase energy efficiency. An anaerobic digester produces methane that can be then utilized in a system to supply energy to the facility at significantly lower costs. The overall cuts on energy costs can enable the facility to become more self-sufficient.

Energy monitoring system

Energy monitoring is a simple and cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption. Wastewater treatment plants can install low-cost wireless submeters to help facilities gather additional consumption data. This information can be analyzed with one of the many available energy information software products to provide a thorough picture of energy use and help staff optimize facility performance

Educate Employees

Educating treatment system operators in the relationship between energy efficiency and facility operations is key to meeting energy targets and finding new opportunities for efficiency. Engaging operators in the process by asking for input results in efficiency measures being suggested and embraced. After all, throughout all stages in the facility, it’s the staff that is dealing with the processes every day.

Energy Audit

Lastly, plants wanting to reduce energy can first benchmark their energy use, then perform an energy audit to see how they can operate more efficiently, and finally, implement the audit’s recommendations.

Depending on the systems and the processes, various other methods too can be implemented to reduce energy consumption at the plant. Every little effort should be made to turn the planet from brown to green.

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