Every municipality and utility is facing the reality of rising energy costs. In 2010, the Town of Billerica, MA, which is located 22 miles northwest of Boston with a population of just under 40,000 residents, engaged Process Energy Services and Woodard & Curran to conduct an energy evaluation of the Town’s Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and pump station systems sponsored by National Grid. The objective of the evaluation was to provide an overview of each facility system to determine how electrical energy and natural gas were being used at the facility and to identify and develop potential costsaving projects.
The capacity and pressure requirements of blowers in a Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) are determined by the aeration system. When systems are manually controlled blowers often operate at constant flow and pressure day in, day out. When the aeration system is automatically controlled to maintain a set dissolved oxygen (DO), however, the blower’s flow and system pressure vary constantly. Understanding these variations will help designers and suppliers optimize blower performance.
With the recent and future increases of the cost of energy, operating a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) as efficiently as possible has become one of the most important factors that operators and managers are facing today. The implementation of a properly designed aeration control system has been reported by the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency to reduce aeration energy by 25 to 40 percent.
In recent years, there have been many changes in wastewater treatment. Most modern processes control three cycles: DO, NH4, and NO3, and all of the processes require high volumes of air. Undeniably, the low pressure air system uses more electrical power than the rest of the wastewater treatment plant combined. The blower packages in these systems can be equipped with low noise enclosures, fixed speed or variable speed drives, and can include all the instrumentation needed for self-protection.
We have industrial accounts where we mix chemicals and acids. Our favorite is blending wine and spirits using compressed nitrogen. The old way to blend was to use “air rousing.” This was done by installing rows of perforated pipes in the bottom of the tank and attaching an air pipe to this grid. Since the typical mixing cycle was 45 minutes, copious amounts of air and energy were used.
The Focus on Energy Water and Wastewater Program was developed to support the industry because of the enormous potential to reduce energy use without compromising water quality standards. Through the program, numerous water and wastewater personnel have learned that energy use can be managed, with no adverse effects on water quality. Most locations that have saved energy have found improved control and treatment.
A new cogeneration system installed at the Budd Inlet Treatment Plant by the LOTT (Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Thurston County) Clean Water Alliance late last year uses treatment by-products as fuel to generate electricity and heat energy. This renewable energy system, combined with an aeration blower retrofit currently underway at the Budd Inlet Treatment Plant, is expected to save LOTT more than $228,000 per year in utility costs.