Optimisation is key says Dr Andy Thornton at sustainability conference

Optimisation within the wastewater treatment process was a much talked about topic at this year's Sustainable Water conference, following a talk by Veolia's Process Optimisation Manager Dr Andy Thornton, last week.

Dr Thornton addressed a group of water industry professionals to discuss how by optimising front-end wastewater treatment processes, operators can reduce both resource use and energy costs, particularly on secondary processes such as aeration, which can account for 40% of energy costs within the wastewater treatment process.

With energy costs continually on the increase it is becoming crucial that water and wastewater companies look at each element of the treatment process to ask if it's being operated in the most efficient way - not only to reduce operating costs but to also meet ever more stringent environmental targets.

Dr Thornton said: "It's all about looking after and maintaining your kit and giving people the right tools to do their jobs. We're not just talking about tools in terms of equipment to do the job, it's also giving operators the freedom to not just achieve compliance, but to be given the power to be more efficient in the way they operate a wastewater treatment plant."

"For example, keeping screens operational will reduce the amount of waste reaching the primary settlement tanks; keeping pipes clear of fat and grease will enable sludge to be better thickened; keeping digesters clear of grit will allow it to maximise gas production - these are all simple and inexpensive measures that can be taken to reduce energy use and intensity, meaning your asset is cleaner, leaner and working to its optimal design. But we don't always see this happening and so energy costs continue to creep upwards."

"Most wins can come from changes in operational behaviour. This, augmented with small-scale investment can deliver the significant majority of what we're trying to achieve, which will in turn enable more efficient, large-scale capital interventions. Without a conscious effort to bring about cultural change, the TOTEX vision will not be achieved. "

The conference theme was finding solutions to secure the future and was attended by over 150 delegates. For more information about the event and speakers log on to www.sustainable-water.co.uk .

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