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Time to switch gear in water treatment

Patricia Aubeuf-Prieur, Marketing Manager at Kemira, expects the rate of change in the water treatment industry to accelerate going forward. Most municipal wastewater treatment plants are already reaching a good level in terms of their capability to meet regulatory requirements and manage day-to-day challenges; now it is time to switch gear and focus on optimizing processes and reducing resource consumption.

Time to switch gear in water treatment

Optimizing processes is partly about cutting costs, but it’s also very much about being more sustainable. Reducing energy consumption is a great example of how the two goals overlap. “Cutting energy consumption is without a doubt one of the biggest low hanging fruits in terms of sustainability performance, because treatment processes, particularly the biological treatment of wastewater, can be very energy intensive,” Patricia highlights. “After personnel costs, energy is the single biggest cost item. Chemical pre-treatment has been shown to significantly boost energy-efficiency.”

Cutting energy consumption is without a doubt one of the biggest low hanging fruits in terms of sustainability performance.

Another big optimization and sustainability challenge is how to improve the way the industry deals with the sludge generated as a by-product of the wastewater treatment process. “Many plants have been smart in this regard, solving the twin problems of energy consumption and sludge management by installing biogas-generation systems to turn sludge into green energy to power their processes. This is a great example of sustainable circular-economy thinking in action,” highlights Patricia.

By using inorganic coagulants in the process, the sludge properties can be improved. Higher dry solids can be reached and cost-savings on disposal achieved. Smart technologies, like the Kemira KemConnect™ SD, turn sludge dewatering into precision-science, combining online measurement sensors, patented algorithms, recommendations on optimal dosing points, as well as a customized reporting system.

Precision, efficiency and peace of mind

Thanks to digitalization, the daily routines in many wastewater treatment plants are unrecognizable from what they were 20 years ago, with time-consuming manual sampling superseded by online measurement. “Whereas before you had a person taking samples in the morning, analyzing them during the day, and then fine-tuning the process once the analytical results were ready, plants can now react much more quickly thanks to online measurement and monitoring tools,” says Patricia. “The next level, that plants are already adopting, is using smart algorithms that help analyze and manage the data even more quickly and effectively. New control and optimization solutions like those developed by Kemira bring huge benefits in terms of cost savings, chemical dosage optimization, and energy consumption,” Patricia continues.

“In the past – when there was no real-time data, just day-old results – it was common for plant operators to overdose chemicals just to make sure they stayed within the required parameters. This led to waste of valuable raw materials. With smart digital tools, operators can dose exactly the right amounts at the right time,” Patricia says.

Regardless of the industry, new innovations and new ways of doing business take time to be understood and adopted. “It’s a learning process on both sides,” says Patricia: “We want to create solutions for a more resource-efficient future, along the lines of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Smart technologies, in combination with 100 years of chemistry expertise, help in achieving these goals. One of the biggest advances we’re focusing on in this regard is the Kemira KemConnect™ platform, providing water treatment operators with the up-to-date insight needed for higher cost-efficiency, performance and sustainable use of chemistry.”

Name:
Patricia Aubeuf-Prieur
Job title:
Marketing Manager, Advanced Water Treatment
At Kemira since:
1999
Location:
Strasbourg, France
Topics to watch:
Innovations in water treatment; how I can contribute to better protection of the environment and our health.
Words to live by:
Live for what you believe in and stay on track. Be yourself, be confident in yourself, and respect others.
What motivates me:
Having a day full of interesting, challenging tasks and the opportunity to work with new people and be inspired by them; supporting my children’s education.
Hobbies:
Sports in general, especially swimming, but also skiing, rollerblading, horse riding, surfing, climbing, and tennis.
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