Water sustains life. However, when we use water and discharge it through our sewer systems, it becomes unfit for further use. To render the wastewater compatible with the environment, we build wastewater treatment facilities. Since the goal of these plants is to improve the environment, the plant itself must have as little negative impact as possible on its surroundings.
Designing a WWTP has traditionally been a long and arduous process by teams of engineers. A preliminary plant design might take several weeks to develop. If the client requests changes to the plan or wants to consider other options, much more time is required.
Since the need for a treatment plant is usually acute by the time a community decides to act on it, The delays with the traditional design process were very troublesome to the client. The result was often to shortcut consideration of the options and sometimes build a less-than-ideal plant for its application.
Transcend Water, a company at the forefront of the wastewater treatment design business, undertook to improve this situation by developing the Transcend Design Generator. This SaaS app enables a water engineer to develop a preliminary design in as little as 8 hours.
We’ll look at how it does this in this article.
Process Options for Wastewater Treatment
Methods commonly used in WWTPs are
- Conventional activated sludge (AS, CAS)
- Membrane bioreactor (MBR)
- Moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR)
- Integrated fixed-film activated sludge (MBBR IFAS, IFAS)
- Sequencing batch reactor (SBR)
Among these processes, each has advantages and disadvantages. The membrane bioreactor produces the cleanest effluent, but it’s expensive to operate. Lower construction costs in some locations may offset the opex issue to some degree.
Less expensive processes may be desirable where the plant discharges to a less sensitive area.
The Transcend Design Generator (TDG) allows engineers to design as many process technology options as they want and, with the detailed output documentation it allows, to compare the most important parameters for a particular site. By doing that the design company or the future facility owner can evaluate and rank the options according to the needs of the given community.
WWTP Planning and Design
Developing an appropriate plan and design for a WWTP is a complex process. Here are some of the factors to consider:
- Influent volume and characteristics.
- Environmental sensitivity of the discharge area.
- What’s likely to change during the plant’s life?
- How important is odor control?
- Space available.
- Site considerations – elevations, weather factors, etc.
Expert engineers from several disciplines (process, civil, mechanical, hydraulic, etc.) are needed to balance these factors and provide viable options for the WWTP owner to consider.
Several years ago, Transcend Water’s engineers decided to streamline the plant design process. They became computer programmers and developed the Transcend Design Generator to enable consulting engineers to assist their clients more efficiently. This Design Generator is unique in the industry and reduces design time by orders of magnitude.
Considering that virtually every wastewater management project is in emergency mode (We need it yesterday!), the time savings in the preliminary design process offered by the design generator make it the first choice for designers worldwide.
Besides developing a plant design quickly, it can react quickly to requests for design changes and multiple process options. Liken it to the difference between performing complex financial calculations one by one vs. using an Excel spreadsheet. Changing an input results in a very quick answer.
Protecting the environment and making a positive impact on people’s life is a central focus of the design generator.
Automating Plant Operation as Well as Design
As we’ve pointed out, The design generator takes the pain out of WWTP design through automation.
A well-designed plant employs many automated processes in its operation as well.
Feedwater loading varies throughout the day and night. Since the feedwater comes from households, family life patterns result in big swings in sewage volume. It’s important to react correctly to those changes.
In an up-to-date wastewater treatment plant, high-tech sensors and real-time online analysis constantly monitor water quality and feed information to the plant operators. This information is what they need to know to adjust treatment to keep everything in balance.
To summarize, when we use water, we contaminate it. Returning it to the environment in a form compatible with the environment is the aim of wastewater treatment plants. Proper design of those plants ensures that a positive impact is made on people’s lives and the environment.
Transcend Water has received high accolades for their unique design generator. Check out Transcend’s website for more information.