Chris Caldwell of Sulzer Pumps / ABS USA discusses common and emerging problems associated with pumps, the importance of energy efficiency, and the broad range of solutions his company offers.
The following is an excerpt from the Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.
Water Online Radio: Chris, what are some of the bigger challenges that folks running wastewater plants are thinking about today and facing in terms of pumping technology?
Chris Caldwell: From talking to plant operators and some of our own research, wastewater is different today than it was years ago. And even just a few years ago, it was actually much easier to pump.
Now we’re seeing things in the wastewater that are exceptionally difficult to pump. And part of that is the material that’s in there, but also, as water conservation efforts take hold, the quantity of water is lower, pushing the concentration of this material up higher.
You would think as a pump manufacturer, we’d be happy about reduced water consumption, because pumps that don’t run don’t break down. But it turns out that it just makes it more difficult to pump the material, because it’s such a high concentration now.
We’re talking things that you use every day in the household: Swiffer sheets and Moist Wipes and such – most of them are paper fibers, but they’re very, very tough. I don’t know if you ever tried to pull apart a Swiffer sheet, but it’s impossible to break the thing.
These types of products are ending up in the waste stream, and older technology pumps just are not equipped to handle them. And operators are constantly cleaning out these pumps that just can’t handle this material.
Water Online Radio: Chris, we have to talk to you about energy efficiency. I’m assuming it’s a big focus area for you?
Chris Caldwell: Absolutely. The pressure on our customers for energy-efficient products is ever increasing. And so what we try to do with our products is first focus on reliability – things that actually work and do the job properly, last a long time, repairable products, heavy duty designs – but also looking at the efficiency of the thing.