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Wastewater Treatment: Energy-Conservation Opportunities

By Abtin Ataei, Graduate School of the Environment and Energy, Science and Research Branch of I.A.U. |

Typical wastewater-treatment plants (WWTP) — both industrial and municipal — consume large amounts of energy, which can represent 50% or more of the facility’s variable operating and maintenance costs. Most employ biological processes that rely on energy-intensive aeration systems whose energy consumption is approximately 0.5 kWh per m3 of effluent treated. This article discusses a variety of design and operating improvements that can be undertaken to reduce energy consumption (and related costs) during wastewater treatment. Case study results from representative WWTP scenarios are presented throughout the discussion. The specific energy-conservation options presented here are organized into five specific proposals, each of which is discussed in detail below: • Optimize aeration and oxygen transfer • Use variable frequency drives (VFDs) to adjust the speed of electric motors to meet process demand • Replace old electric motors with more-energy-efficient ones • Maximize the production and use of biogas as a fuel • Design an efficient, distributed effluent cooling system Typical system components The biological treatment of wastewater is carried out by microorganisms, mainly bacteria, which…
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