I’ve been working with polymers for more than 25 years. It´s a fascinating chemical that can be used in many water and sludge treatment applications. By improving the efficiency of polymers, we can optimize processes and create value for our customers.
Around 10–20% of the operational costs of wastewater plants are in sludge disposal. By using the correct chemistry in combination with our Kemira KemConnect™ smart process management technologies, we can increase the dry solids of the dewatered sludge and minimize the amount of sludge that needs to be disposed.
It is important to look at each customer process with a consultative approach, this is how you get the best results. For example, a municipal plant was using a competitor’s dry polymer and got in touch with us. They asked us to offer our best dry polymer. However, during our polymer selection test, we learned that we could optimize their sludge dewatering application by using an emulsion polymer instead of a dry polymer. The difference after switching the chemistry was remarkable. Even though they spent more money on polymers, we managed to reduce their total operating costs, increased the throughput on the centrifuges and improved the centrate quality.
We have recently launched a new dry Kemira Superfloc® XD polymer particularly developed for the sludge dewatering application. It improves cake solids and filtrate quality compared to conventional cationic polymers and are effective at low dosage levels. I’m looking forward to introducing these high-performance innovations to new customers. Sludge dewatering can be a tricky operation due to its varying composition. This is why application expertise is always an important piece of the puzzle.
We can increase the dry solids of the dewatered sludge and minimize the amount of sludge that needs to be disposed.
Recently we have been working on developing smart digital solutions for sludge dewatering. By using a combination of measuring equipment, our different chemistries and the KemConnect platform for smart process management, we can optimize and maintain performance and follow customer KPI’s in real-time. This kind of smart chemical treatment of sludge enables on-demand chemical consumption and always delivers the best dewatering performance, even if the input sludge properties vary over time.
An industry trend I see now is the need for more sustainable chemistries. We are constantly working on this, too. Our R&D principle is that all new products should always further improve sustainability performance compared to products already available.
Other trend in wastewater treatment is the need for energy-savings; energy is by far the single biggest cost item of water treatment plants. Another hot topic is the recycling and reuse of resources: the reuse of effluent and the recovery and recycling of nutrients and raw materials like phosphorus and cellulose fibers.
In the future, legislation on effluent quality will keep getting tighter and tighter. This creates opportunities for new applications and new chemistries, but also a cleaner water supply for everyone.