– Article

Digital solutions for resource efficiency in water treatment

Wastewater treatment plants can reach next-level resource efficiency thanks to new advanced digital solutions that combine the power of chemistry with automation.

For years, the water treatment industry has used data to diagnose issues. But new technologies and real-time optimization are transforming the industry. It’s no longer just about fixing problems and cutting costs. You need to think about circular design and maximum sustainability. Analytics and automation at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) help use resources more efficiently ─ including chemistry.

Smart systems for a sustainable future

The wellbeing of society depends on water treatment. So does sustainable development. At Kemira, we believe digitalizing water treatment with smart process management supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also what comes to SDG 12 for sustainable consumption and production.

That’s why we offer chemistry and application expertise through a suite of optimization service applications called KemConnect™. Our goal with KemConnect™ is to help water treatment plants future-proof processes by using resources as efficiently as possible.

KemConnect™  solutions run patented control algorithms that continuously optimize process conditions in terms of chemistry application. Service applications include:

  • odor and corrosion control
  • treatment of stormwater overflow
  • chemically enhanced primary treatment
  • phosphorus treatment
  • COD and suspended solids removal in secondary or tertiary treatment
  • enhanced sludge dewatering
  • wastewater disinfection

A personalized dashboard shows the key performance indicators in real-time. Automatic adjustments  optimize resources and reduce the WWTP environmental footprint ─ all while saving costs.

Learn more smart chemical water treatment with KemConnect™.

Digitalizing sludge dewatering

Let’s look at a specific example: sludge dewatering. Most chemical application is done with manual adjustments based on manual sampling and retrospective tests. With this approach, the chemistry isn’t optimized. As a result, WWTPs often deal with sludge that isn’t dry enough or sludge volumes that are too high. Sometimes both.

KemConnect™ SD, our digital solution for advanced sludge treatment, automatically accounts for changes in process conditions such as sludge characteristics and temperature. Then, it provides accurate dosing. It measures total solids in the untreated sludge, iron coagulant dosage (if used), polymer dosage, total suspended solids of the treated reject water, and dry solids of the dewatered sludge. All of these parameters are continuously fed into an algorithm that calculates the optimal polymer dosage for the desired outcome based on the existing conditions.

With KemConnect™SD, wastewater treatment facilities can expect drier sludge and lower volumes. This reduces sludge handling and minimizes the impact on the environment. How? In cities, sludge needs to be hauled away for disposal. The wetter it is, the heavier it is. That adds to the cost and increases the carbon footprint. The drier the sludge, the lower the financial and environmental cost. Alternatively, in municipalities where sludge is incinerated, energy costs are usually very high. Again, drier sludge is better because it takes less energy to incinerate. That’s why WWTPs are increasingly turning to digital solutions for advanced sludge treatment. It’s easier on their budgets and on the planet.

Precision phosphorous removal

All WWTPs know the importance of removing nutrients like phosphorus from effluent in order to protect natural waterways. It prevents eutrophication and dangerous algae blooms. But some municipalities are taking sustainability a step further with circular design in mind. They’re optimizing phosphorous recovery and offering the phosphorous to farmers who rely on it as fertilizer. It’s a potential source of revenue and perfectly aligned with UN SDG 12.

Recovering phosphorous from wastewater and “recycling” it by reintroducing it to soil is a good example of the circular economy in action. It extends the usable life of this valuable nutrient and regenerates natural systems.

Kemira’s smart process management solution helps WWTPs with this process. Called KemConnect™ P, it optimizes chemical phosphate removal by providing continuous monitoring combined with precise control over product dosing at multiple dosing points. It ensures adequate phosphorus removal, so you remain in compliance – regardless of fluctuating feed rates and phosphorus loads.

Smart technology combined with chemistry

What makes KemConnect™ unique is pairing our chemistry with a robust digital platform. We offer a total solution including the selection and supply of chemistry, provision of online equipment, recommendations for optimal dosage points and a customized reporting system.

What’s even more exciting is that our portfolio of chemical water treatment solutions is designed with circularity in mind. That means our customers not only benefit from efficiencies thanks to the KemConnect™ platform, they also have access to chemistry made from would-be waste products. For example, we use recycled sources to produce inorganic coagulants for wastewater treatment. In fact, we’re proud that an average of 70–80% of all raw materials we use to make inorganic coagulants come from recycled sources. That includes scrap iron from the automotive industry and industrial by-products like spent pickle liquor from the steel industry. We like to call it from scrap to tap.

Creating the circular economy together

Using a combination of our high-quality water treatment chemicals, smart technologies and 100 years of expertise, Kemira can improve customers’ resource efficiency, lower costs and ensure that operations comply with all relevant regulations and standards. Together we can create the circular economy, help achieve SDG 12 and lead the successful transition to a more sustainable society.