From The Editor | October 23, 2014

Top 10 Technologies From WEFTEC


By Kevin Westerling,


They did it again.

Seemingly every year WEFTEC breaks records for size and attendance, and 2014 in New Orleans was no exception. The Water Environment Federation’s annual exhibition and conference set new highs for registrants (20,385), exhibitors (1,027), and floor space (303,075 sq. ft.). It has grown into the water quality show in North America — not just for wastewater practitioners anymore.

For the second straight year WEFTEC was co-located with the Stormwater Congress, giving registrants to either show equal access to both within the Morial Convention Center. It helps drive home the message of “One Water” — treating water responsibly at every stage of its endless cycle.

Another theme that continues at WEFTEC is “Innovation.” With the multitude of water challenges facing municipalities, industry, and society, innovation is seen as our best — perhaps only — means of achieving safe, sustainable, and cost-effective water management moving forward.

There was a lot to choose from, but I picked my favorite innovations to highlight in what has become another annual tradition: Water Online’s “Top 10” from WEFTEC…

Monster Separation Systems – JWC Environmental

One may think of innovation in terms of high-tech advances — “smart” systems, “disruptive” technologies, and the like — but innovation also includes improvements to existing systems. Such is the case with JWC’s Muffin Monster and Channel Monster grinders, which incorporate a new cutting design specifically aimed at solving “flushable” wipe clogs. The wipes market continues to grow, but whether they are (supposedly) dispersible or nondispersible, they often end up in collection systems, resulting in clogged pumps and overflows.

Instead of cutting just one way, the “wipes-ready” cutters cut two ways, thereby preventing long strips of material from forming and clogging the system. JWC also developed ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW) perforated screening panels and a brushless cleaning system for its Finescreen Monster to remove wipes at the headworks. According to JWC’s Alec Mackie, the advancements offer high capture efficiency with little carryover, as well as easier (sans brush) and more effective panel cleaning.

PROGNOSYS Predictive Diagnostics – Hach Company

The high-tech side of innovation is exemplified by Hach’s PROGNOSYS plug-in for its line of analytical instruments. This new capability, unique to Hach, improves efficiency and simplifies O&M — both money-saving benefits — by alerting operators to situations before they happen. PROGNOSYS identifies upcoming maintenance work, even determining whether the job is simple (e.g., cleaning the sensor or replacing reagents) or requires a service technician. The system continuously gauges measurement reliability, alerting the operator with warning indicators if there seems to be an issue.

PROGNOSYS is currently available for Hach’s phosphate, nitrate, ammonia, dissolved oxygen (DO), and total suspended solids (TSS) analyzers. Wastewater Specialist Bob Dabkowski made his own prediction, however: the plug-in will soon be available throughout Hach’s product line.

EcoFilter – BioAir Solutions

Speaking of performance indicators, how happy does it make the surrounding community when your operation literally stinks? Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a necessary evil in wastewater collection, but it doesn’t need to be tolerated. Besides being a public nuisance due to its foul smell, it’s also corrosive to pipes and infrastructure. BioAir Solutions resolves odor and emissions issues by removing more than 99 percent of H2S.

Established in 2008, BioAir designs and supplies high-rate biotrickling filters — called EcoFilters — enabled by a synthetic (plastic) media; no chemicals are needed for the biological process. Besides making life more tolerable near municipal wastewater treatment plants and pump stations, the systems have found use in the degasifier market for control of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, and also in a variety of industrial applications. According to the company, BioAir vessels are 1/3 the size of “yesterday’s odor control units” and have enjoyed a 100-percent success rate at 120 worldwide installations and counting.

Z-MBBR – AnoxKaldnes

While the plastic media used in biological processes may seem but a detail, their significance should not be overlooked. AnoxKaldnes, part of Veolia Water Technologies, debuted its Z-MBBR carrier at the IFAT 2014 tradeshow in May, and this was its first showing at WEFTEC. Designed specifically for use in a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) — a technology, incidentally, designed by AnoxKaldnes decades ago — the Z-MBBR carriers have a unique shape that provides better biolfilm control. The carriers feature a “3D” grid on their surface that preserves favored bacteria, while their curved shape limits the growth of biofilms that hinder biological treatment. The carriers actually “scrape” the biofilm from one another inside the reactor.

The first installation of the Z-MBBR was recently put in place in Sweden, and many North American installations are sure to follow. With aggressive nutrient removal becoming more and more of a necessity, innovation in this space is a welcome sight.

AirPrex – cnp (CNP-Technology Water and Biosolids Corp.)

If you have never heard of struvite, you may know it as magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP). If you are soon to practice biological phosphorus removal, it’s very likely struvite will become part of your vocabulary. Over time, high phosphate concentrations in the digester’s anaerobic environment cause struvite to accumulate in the pipes, resulting in what’s seen below.

To combat the problem, cnp developed AirPrex, which not only performs air stripping to protect pipes, but also allows for recovery of the struvite, which can be used as a fertilizer. Installed between anaerobic digestion and dewatering, the AirPrex reactor enhances nutrient removal by cutting down the phosphorus in the recycling load by up to 90 percent. It also improves dewatering efficiency, thus reducing the polymer and disposal costs associated with sludge removal. Plant capacity is maintained because pipes are kept free of struvite, and chemical cleanings are avoided. Furthermore, at the end of the process, the dry struvite can be collected and sold as a fertilizer.

Resource Recovery Services – Anaergia Inc.

You may have noticed, especially if you attended WEFTEC, the use of the term “water resource recovery facility” (WRRF) in place of “wastewater treatment plant” (WWTP). There has been a concerted rebranding effort by WEF and many others throughout the industry to change the way we think about wastewater treatment. Truth is, sewage is not “waste” at all — at least it doesn’t have to be. We can utilize it as an energy source to partially or entirely run the plant, or simply provide heating and cooling. The water itself can be cleaned to standards suitable for reuse. Finally, as stated previously, the nutrients extracted from wastewater treatment can be used a fertilizer, which is of growing importance considering phosphorus is a finite resource.

Anaergia Inc. helps WWTPs become WRRFs by providing the expertise and technology necessary for the transition. The company specializes in anaerobic digestion, with over 1,700 plant installations in Europe, North America, and Asia. The digesters convert captured flare gas into renewal electricity or a refined natural gas. Anaergia’s hybrid membrane technology enables water reuse and reduces facility footprints. Additional technologies are used to dewater, dry, and pelletize sludge, which results in biosolids reduction of up to 80 percent, as well as a marketable fertilizer product. Anaergia seems to be ahead of the curve in that companies offering full-service resource recovery solutions will likely become more common as municipalities come around to this new way of thinking.

Oxelia – Leopold -- A Xylem Brand

With water reuse on the rise, Xylem has stepped to the fore with a new treatment system that combines the strengths of multiple business units within the company, those being Leopold, WEDECO, and YSI. According to Xylem Inc.’s water reuse marketing specialist, Peter Brooks, this sort of unified solution is not only a first for the company, but the capabilities offered by Oxelia are completely unique in the industry.

Using a multi-barrier approach that combines ozone oxidation, biologically active filtration, and analytical instrumentation, the system provides “complete destruction of total organic carbon (TOC), trace contaminants, and oxidation byproducts.” This includes micro-contaminants from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), which are suspected sources of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) that can escape other systems — or wind up in a separate waste stream requiring further treatment. Because Oxelia has no such waste stream, operations are simpler and more cost-efficient, according to Xylem, while capital costs are also said to be lower than competing solutions based on reverse osmosis (RO) membranes.

Altivar Process Variable Speed Drives – Schneider Electric

When visiting the Schneider Electric booth and learning about the Altivar Process VSDs, I noted that the controls reminded me of my beloved iPod (R.I.P.). That was no accident, I was told, because the controls were made to be simple and sleek (à la Apple) for ease of use. Even more important are the capabilities of the Altivar Process, which is the first line of VSDs on the market equipped with embedded intelligent services (available from 1 HP to 1500 HP). The embedded technology allows for fast, easy-to-access information to help operators make informed decisions.

The drives monitor system processes and equipment condition throughout the plant — be it in water/wastewater, oil and gas, food and beverage, etc. — and delivers data through configurable on-board dashboards and graphical HMI displays. Processes are optimized (and money is saved) through life-cycle asset management, operational efficiency, and reduced energy consumption.

Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR) – GE Power & Water

GE Power & Water puts a keener focus on the industrial sector with the introduction of AnMBR, which treats high-strength wastewater while providing opportunities for environmentally responsible, economical operations. The organics in the wastewater can be converted into biogas for supplemental energy, and the effluent is suitable for post-treatment/reuse applications. The following video, profiling Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE, showcases AnMBR — and one happy customer — as evidence for the potential of sustainable industrial wastewater technology:

The hallmark of the AnMBR, according to GE, is the ability to produce consistently high-quality effluent, whereas conventional anaerobic digestion technologies are often sensitive to system upsets that affect reliability and efficiency. Featuring the company’s ZeeWeed* membranes, AnMBR separates the solids retention time (SRT) from the hydraulic retention time (HRT) to optimize biological performance.

Magellan Decentralized Wastewater Treatment – Contech Engineered Solutions

The sheer size of this product on the tradeshow floor (you could actually walk in it!) was attention-grabbing, but it makes the “Top 10” because it addresses a trending need in the industry. Decentralized wastewater treatment is becoming more popular due to the improvement of on-site technologies and the cost savings realized by not having to transport water for treatment and/or disposal. The packaged, “plug-and-play” system can be configured in a variety of ways (single vessel, multi-vessel, containerized, or custom) to treat 2,000 to 250,000-plus GPD for residential, municipal, or industrial/agricultural applications.

The Magellan system incorporates primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment processes into a steel reinforced polyethylene (SRPE) design with all-plastic internal components. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS) can be treated to 5-30 mg/L, while nutrients are effectively removed and pathogens disinfected. The processes used and the level of treatment will be dictated by application, but virtually nothing is off the table, including effluent suitable for reuse. Its lightweight construction makes it relatively easy to transport, and, once there, it gets buried in the ground for improved aesthetics. The systems are designed to last at least 75 years, with minimal operating or maintenance requirements along the way. They also typically qualify for LEED credits due to their low energy consumption.

That does it for this year’s “Top 10.” Feel free to share your own impressions from the show in the comments section below…