Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Blower Systems

Blower & Vacuum Best Practices interviewed Henryk Melcer, Senior Process Engineer, Vice President, at Brown and Caldwell.  We’re headquartered in Denver, Colorado. In all, we have more than 1,700 professionals working in nearly 50 locations, primarily in mainland USA. About 45% of our work is focused on wastewater engineering now, having made a conscious effort to diversify into water treatment and industrial wastewater treatment. That was after we absorbed Dr. Eckenfelder’s old company, which is ironic because it came full circle for me. We also carry out environmental impact assessments, water resources modeling, collection system and stormwater modeling, and a range of other services.
After auditing and field-testing, the Sni-A-Bar Municipal Wastewater Plant in Blue Springs, Missouri, partnered with Inovair to replace 4 fixed-speed rotary lobe blowers on its aeration system with 4 Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), integrally geared centrifugal blowers. The new blowers, along with improvements in blower controls, reduces annual energy use by 442,664 kWh and peak electrical demand by 48.76 kW, which translates to an annual energy reduction of 37 percent and anticipated savings of $42,000 per year. Additionally, a rebate of $45,799 from the local utility resulted in a payback of less than six years.
Most-Open-Valve (MOV) can be a cost-effective way to optimize aeration energy. It can also be a confusing and troublesome addition to a process automation project. In my experience MOV is the least understood aspect of aeration control. This article will shed light on MOV, the process and energy impacts and why it’s worth the trouble.
Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Buffalo, N.Y., had an inefficient aeration control system that, ironically, had been installed in 1998 as an efficiency upgrade. The operating principle was that air flow to all 32 of the plant’s aeration basins, or zones, would be properly controlled by an average of several Dissolved Oxygen (DO) level measurements taken by DO probes in a few of the basins. However, changes in tank loadings and physical dynamics, along with differences in oxygen transfer rates between diffuser grids, prevented a uniform air flow in the aeration zones.
The wastewater treatment plant in the Town of Hurlock, Maryland provides service to approximately 2,100 residences. However, the majority of the water treated comes from a nearby poultry processing plant, giving the plant influent a high organic content. That is why the Town of Hurlock replaced its two million-gallon-per-day (MGD) lagoon plant with a 1.65 MGD four-stage activated sludge facility ten years ago. After construction was completed, operating costs of the new plant were significantly higher than before. This meant the town had to get creative in order to keep costs down for their ratepayers.
Aeration tanks use bubble diffusers to distribute oxygen within the wastewater. Fine bubble diffusers, or those that produce a large amount of very small air bubbles, first began to become popular in the 1980s, as they had a much higher efficiency than coarse bubble diffusers. Fine bubble diffusers generally feature a membrane that allows airflow to pass from the piping system on the floor of the tank through the body of the diffuser and the membrane, providing oxygen into the wastewater for treatment.
A replacement strategy for air compressors and blowers integrated into a system-level approach towards energy efficiency can deliver significant energy savings and optimize equipment performance. At the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, a blower replacement project yielded annual energy savings of more than 928,000 kWh and $98,000 in energy costs, while improving the reliability of its secondary treatment process. In addition, the agency qualified for important incentives from its electric utility — significantly improving the project economics and resulting in a 2.94-year payback.
The overall wastewater treatment process is complex, and each step is integral to ensuring water is properly purified. Effluent ends up in the plants, containing substances that must be removed before the water can be properly cleaned and returned for use. The range of potential contaminants is almost endless and can include food, pulp, waste, or other substances. Afterwards, the water requires further scrubbing, with the aid of bacteria. It is in this part of the process that compressed air (ideally provided by energy-efficient rotary lobe blowers) plays a vital role.
A facility audit examined the plant electrical energy consumption to find ideas to reduce plant energy use while meeting the process demand. Based on discussions with plant staff and a brief review of the process, it was decided to focus the effort on reducing the electrical energy required to provide aeration air to the secondary activated sludge process. The aeration air blowers were the largest consumers of electrical power in the plant and significantly less efficient than the newer blowers that have been introduced to the market place in the recent years.
This guide explains three blower technologies and,using examples from actual wastewater plants, describes the most effective technology for particular applications and why. Of course there is no substitute for a consultation specific to your application; however, the guide can help raise the right questions and ensure a productive vendor and technology evaluation process.
The plant air system consists of eight, single-stage, lubricated, Sullair rotary screw compressors. All units are in good working order.  Units 2, 3, 4 and 7 are water-cooled and units 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 are air-cooled. The main plant air system has two primary compressed air dryers, a Thompson Gordon model TG 2000 refrigerated dryer, and a Sullair model SAR 1350 heatless desiccant dryer.  Both units are working according to their design. The TG 2000 uses approximately 11.2 kW and is a non-cycling type unit, and the SAR 1350 uses approximately 200 cfm of purge air to regenerate the wet tower.