Severn Trent Water Increase Sludge Screening Efficiency

A new sludge screening system has resulted in Severn Trent Water significantly increasing the efficiency of sludge screening operations at Minworth Sewage Treatment Works on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Since the new sludge screen has been introduced by Severn Trent the company has reported significant operational efficiencies as a result of increased screenings removal, elimination of blockages and reduced power and water requirements.

Severn Trent has introduced the S:Max sludge screen, a product developed by CDEnviro, for the screening of imported raw sludge. A major success of the S:Max is the increased performance in relation to the removal of screenings explains Nick Williams from Severn Trent who was responsible for the specification of the new system.

"The removal of screenings from raw sludge is crucial to ensuring maximum efficiency within our digesters and we have seen a 300% improvement in this regard from the S:Max when compared to the previous system that we had in operation."

By ensuring screenings are effectively removed before material reaches the anaerobic digestion phase Severn Trent are maximising the potential for the generation of energy from bio solids by reducing the level of bio solids contamination within the digesters. The benefits of effective screenings removal also include reduced operation and maintenance costs at the anaerobic digestion phase.

Eliminating blockages during sludge screening

The S:Max installed for Severn Trent has been in operation since June 2010 and in addition to the benefits for the AD process there have also been significant reductions in the cost of operation and maintenance when compared to the sludge screening plant that the S:Max has replaced.

The elimination of blockages during screening is undoubtedly one of the most significant reasons for these cost reductions. "As well as the costs of plant downtime we often had the problem that when blockages occurred they caused damage to the screening plant which led to an extension in the period of downtime and additional costs by way of the replacement parts required to get the plant operational again" says Nick Williams.

The costs incurred during this period of downtime were not restricted to the costs of maintenance itself but were further increased by the fact that tankers containing the raw sludge for screening needed to be diverted to alternative sites to be processed.

An increase in transport movements is unwelcome at any time but in recent years where high fuel costs have ensured an even greater focus on this, the ability of the S:Max system to address this issue has been welcomed by Severn Trent. "Any reduction in fuel consumption comes with the dual benefit of reducing costs while also allowing us to make progress towards our targets to reduce the overall carbon footprint of our processing operations" explains Nick Williams.

Dealing with variable dry solids content in raw sludge

The screening of imported sludge is a complicated process due to the nature of the material being processed and one of the key variables effecting plant performance is the level of dry solids contained in the sludge. The S:Max has demonstrated a development of the capability offered in this area when compared to previously existing systems thanks to its ability to handle both a higher level of dry solids and cope with larger variations in the volume of screenings.

According to Nick Williams the previous system installed at Minworth was sized to cope with a dry solids content of 3% within the raw sludge. An analysis of the material processed by the S:Max in the first 16 weeks of operation shows an average dry solids content of 4.1% with the highest level being 10.5%.

"The level of dry solids content that can be comfortably accommodated by the S:Max is far in excess of any other sludge screening system currently in operation" says Marc Jennings, Senior Design Engineer with CDEnviro. "While the vast majority of material will fall within the 3% to 5% range the proven capability to handle 10% dry solids within the raw sludge gives operators a great sense of comfort when it comes to specifying a new sludge screening plant."

Based on the previous plant in operation at Minworth an increase in dry solids content above 3% required that the feed rate to the screening plant be slowed down to ensure the material was effectively processed. It can be seen from the average dry solids content of material processed through the S:Max that this involved a high degree of variation in feed levels with the previous plant.

As a result of this the previous system could not accept feed directly from the tankers containing the raw sludge but instead required the installation of a separate reception tank in order that the flow rate could be modified as required. The S:Max eliminates the requirement for this reception tank as material is discharged directly to the screening unit which has a series of benefits for Severn Trent.

"Technologies which reduce the amount of operator intervention are key for us" explains Nick Williams. "The S:Max delivers on this thanks to its capability for continuous, uninterrupted, hassle free operation."

The S:Max has the capability to accept feed from two tankers simultaneously through two independent connection points at the rear of the unit. This has the effect of minimising the standing time for tankers on site further enhancing operational efficiencies. "This ensures that our tanker fleet is operational for as close to 100% of the time as is possible improving productivity levels in a number of different areas independent of the actual sludge screening process" explains Nick Williams.

Reducing installation requirements

The additional cost of the civils work required to allow for the introduction of both a sludge screening plant and reception tank not only greatly increases the overall investment required in a new plant but also the project delivery time. "The total installation time for the S:Max installation at Minworth was one and a half days" says Marc Jennings. "This ensures operators can be up and running in the quickest time possible with minimal on site preparation work required."

The S:Max operates at less than half the water pressure of the previous system installed at Minworth while also requiring less wash water. This allows for the system to be easily retrofitted to existing sites as the S:Max does not require a high pressure water pump to feed the system.

Further benefit is gained from the reduced power requirement of the plant which once again has the dual benefit of reducing costs of operation while ensuring a minimal carbon footprint.

"The potential for reducing the carbon footprint of the sludge screening process through the introduction of the S:Max across our business and among the other major water service companies in the UK is extremely significant" says Nick Williams.

A unique back wash system on the S:Max is also designed to ensure that the screens do not block with material. "Blockages within existing sludge screening plants are the single biggest cause of increased operational costs and long periods of plant downtime" says Nick Williams.

"The S:Max has addressed every point at which this is a problem and come up with a solution that offers the most efficient sludge screening system that we have in operation. There is simply no point at which material can build up and cause a blockage."

Increasing coverage

Following the successful introduction of the S:Max at Minworth CDEnviro are now focused on increasing coverage within the UK and Ireland markets to ensure the proven operational efficiencies from this installation can be delivered to the industry as a whole.

"We have always been confident that the S:Max represented a significant development of the sludge screening technology currently offered to the sector" says Matt Bunting of CDEnviro.

"With the data now available from the system in operation at Minworth our claims regarding plant performance are now proven beyond question which can only help as we seek to introduce the system throughout the UK industry."

For further information please email CDEnviro

Click here to enquire about this story 

N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by CDEnviro, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

© Faversham House Group Ltd 2011. edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.