Over the past few years, this column has described sustainability and discussed how the nation's procurement and regulatory environment could be more conducive to fostering innovative solutions for sustainable treatment of water resources. In concept, sustainability is fairly simple: We act sustainably when we thoughtfully manage resources in a way that allows future generations to enjoy the same or better access to them than is currently available. This article stays on the topic of sustainability but discusses it in more practical terms.
By Mark Turpin
Over the past few years, I’ve written articles for this column describing sustainability and discussing how the nation’s procurement and regulatory environment could be more conducive to fostering innovative solutions for sustainable treatment of water resources. In concept, sustainability is fairly simple: We act sustainably when we thoughtfully manage resources in a way that allows future generations to enjoy the same or better access to them than is currently available.
There is ample evidence that engineers, operators, and manufacturers have been acting sustainably for many years. Our industry is energetically working to address a variety of issues, including drought-driven water shortages, algae blooms, aging infrastructure, and continued uncertainty about funding levels.
Some solutions to these challenges are found by applying existing technologies in new ways, while others require new systems or innovative product designs. To this end, new technologies continue to come available with the promise of allowing communities to manage our most valuable resource more effectively. Most of these product launches, however, fail to live up to their hype. In reality, it takes almost a decade for a product to build the type of confidence required to become a mainstream offering for water or wastewater treatment.
One promising development in this area continues to be processes developed around Anammox, especially in applications with high levels of ammonia. Several leading manufacturers have developed processes using Anammox, and some early installations include large, innovative municipalities.
Then there are several products that are becoming or have become mainstream offerings. Some of these technologies offer significant improvements to currently available technologies, while others make larger systems more efficient, such as high-efficiency blowers for lowering energy consumption in activated sludge processes.
Another group may offer quite different ways to accomplish treatment, disrupting today’s dominant solutions. One example of a disruptive technology is onsite generation of low-strength sodium hypochlorite. Onsite generation, which has been available for more than a decade and is currently sold by multiple well-known manufacturers, produces a disinfectant (sodium hypochlorite or a mixed oxidant) using electricity, salt and water. It could eliminate the need to transport, store, and handle higher concentrations of liquid or gas chlorine, reduce the carbon footprint for disinfection, lower public safety concerns, and provide lifecycle cost benefits for owners.
Like onsite generation, solar drying has been available in the United States for more than a decade. Solar sludge dryers offer engineers and owners a radically different way to dry solids in that they use the sun’s power to achieve drier solids. Several manufacturers have solutions that can produce 90 percent or greater dry solids and a final product meeting “Class A” standards with extremely low energy consumption compared with gas dryers.
While no product or solution fits every need, there are many opportunities for engineers and owners to source solutions that support sustainability goals. It just makes sense for engineers and the communities they serve to take sustainability into account when designing new plants or plant expansions. Designing sustainability into the plant can help ensure future generations enjoy the same or better quality of outdoor life, health and prosperity as those who came before them.
About the Author: Mark Turpin is Vice President and General Manager - Product at Parkson Corporation. He is Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.