Energy efficiency is at the heart of sustanability

recovery when compared with primary extraction and processing, together with further environmental benefits arising from reduced waste disposal impacts.

By Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director, HRS Heat Exchangers


he world’s water supply faces numerous challenges, including

population growth, increasing urbanisation, a decline in traditional sources of water, and water scarcity driven by climate change. Some of these challenges can be seen in the Dublin region, which according to The Irish Times, is becoming increasingly water stressed. The current plans to transport water long distances may not be sustainable in the longer term, and the sector agrees that relying on one solution may not make the system able to react to extreme droughts, predicted to hit the eastern half of the country with more frequency.

SOLVING PROBLEMS To overcome these multiple issues, the water sector needs to adopt new technologies and ways of working, many of which may be seen as disruptive when compared to traditional methods of water supply and wastewater treatment. Around the world, several disruptive technologies have been identified with potentially positive impacts in the water industry, which include digital technologies, water reuse, resource recovery and energy self-sufficiency. The ‘smart’ water market has been


estimated at $30bn globally, and by 2025 about 80% of utilities in large cities of advanced countries and half of the utilities in large cities of developing countries are expected to have water supply systems that incorporate digital water features like advanced metering. Another area of development is using satellite data to monitor catchments and water distribution systems, with some systems able to identify leaks as small as 100ml/min. There is also increasing interest in treating wastewater streams to make them potable and immediately returning them to the water supply system (direct reuse) rather than returning treated wastewater to the environment through river systems and aquifers (indirect reuse). A number of technologies exist to enable wastewater to be processed into potable water, and as the economics of water abstraction and availability change, these will become more widespread. Resource recovery is a key aspect of

a true circular economy. Every cubic metre of recycled or reused water results in a corresponding reduction in mains water demand and wastewater discharge. There are also benefits in terms of the energy and carbon footprints associated with material

The water industry faces unprecedented challenges over the next couple of decades

As far as the wastewater industry is concerned, nutrients such as phosphorus from struvite are one of the prime contenders for recovery, although as the sector moves towards direct potable water reuse and advance technologies are adopted to remove a wider range of chemical compounds, the number of these that can be recovered and utilised elsewhere will also increase. Other valuable compounds that are beginning to be recovered include ammonia nitrogen and sodium-based products. Fouling is a real concern during these processes and will not only reduce the efficiency of the material recovery, but also reduce the energy efficiency of the overall process. Scraped-surface heat exchangers, coupled with coolers and custom-designed crystallisation tanks, result in an efficient process that can work continuously without requiring scheduled downtime.

SUSTAINABLE Ambitious goals for sustainable development will mean that wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) will need to achieve net zero carbon balances by 2030. Achieving this will require recovery of the energy contained in the incoming wastewater streams and using this to provide the heat and power necessary for wastewater treatment and solids handling. It has been estimated that at present, most WWTPs are capable of producing 20-25% or their own energy requirements in this way. The challenges which the water and wastewater sectors face over the next couple of decades should not be underestimated. Water supplies will need to move from relying on traditional freshwater resources towards sustainable diversified portfolio, and novel and disruptive technologies will need to be implemented. With a mixture of established and new technologies, the water industry is well-placed to become more sustainable and a cornerstone of the wider circular economy.

HRS Heat Exchangers


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