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Energy-Efficient Activated Sludge Monitoring for Wastewater Treatment Plants

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SHEPHERD (Energy-Efficient Activated Sludge Monitoring for Wastewater Treatment Plants)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-07-31

Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP’s) operate by mixing sewage or industrial wastewater with microorganisms to develop a biological “floc” which reduces the organic content so that it can be discharged to natural watercourses. WWTPs use large amounts of electricity, particularly for aeration of the (aerobic) microbes, with negative carbon emissions implications, and poor process efficiency. The aeration of activated sludge can amount to 1-2% of all electricity generated at country-level.
Objectives of the project are to develop a Monitoring and Management System (Shepherd), including a combination of novel hardware, a fully integrated software system, local interface, cloud based dashboard, and a unique body of knowledge that allows a 20% reduction of electricity usage and carbon emissions, while providing operators with plant performance information, and alerts for process failures. The project goes further in planning the commercialisation of the products.
An improved SHEPHERD prototype has been developed, with upgrades relating to sensing capabilities (new biomass probe), updated analogue and digital outputs (supporting closed-loop systems), integration connectors (supporting most common SCADA systems) and secure cloud connection.
The “Version 2” Shepherd system is more robust, has reduced Bill of Materials, is easier to ship, install and maintain. The control Cabinet is modified to accept cabling from the new Sensor Head, and house the control and data loggers. Software has been created that accepts data from the new biomass probe for calculation and integration with BOD measurements. User interfaces are easy to use, and displays operate both locally and via the internet. The cloud based dashboard is useable from any internet connection and incorporates firewall protection. Operators and scientists can receive alerts when problematic situations occur in the plant. Software allows F:M ratio and sludge age outputs using manual MLSS input, while calculations are ready for F:M ratio and sludge age using automatic input. Complex aeration control strategies have been reduced to a simple solution where Shepherd can be integrated easily, with little risk, using industry standard 4-20 mA signal into existing control systems.
Bactest has developed an integrated network of secure communications between Bactest and the Shepherd System, the customer and dashboard, with multi-level access and security. Major contributors in the communications are ISO27001 data security compliant, and allow Shepherd deployment in any location without the need for local negotiation, significantly speeding up globalisation of the product. We have created a separate interactive database of all plant data, firewall protected, with access rights, login system, and access to the database by subscription.
Work involved selecting suitable Trial sites to demonstrate Shepherd’s capabilities over a range of plant types, and geographical locations. An overview document provides guidance to partners (e.g. distributors) for choosing a Trial site and is used in combination with Site Surveys. Guidance Documents for locating a Shepherd System, and generic Trial Plans (Municipal & Industrial) have been developed for manual or automatic aeration control. A minimal testing trial plan has been developed to short trials where customers do not have seasonal plant loading, reducing the time to create a Case Study for commercialisation purposes. 12 potential trial sites have been short listed and a route to the USA identified.
Chemical and biological tests have been evaluated, some purchased, and quotations received for third party lab tests ready for the trials to begin. Mobile test equipment has been evaluated and some purchased. A series of background tests, site visits, and data gathering from Shepherd Version 2 prototypes have been undertaken ready for trials to begin. Site surveys have been completed for 12 potential trial sites.
A centralised internal project repository is in place using “Confluence” for documentation generated in the project or as background, relevant information that supports the project, product or commercialisation, while “Jira” software supports development tasks.
ppt presentations provide training for distributors and engineers, an Installation Instruction document, various guidance documents for locating Shepherd units, and an Operating Manual are written.
A Communication Activity Plan describes the routes to promote the project and products under development. One white paper has been published and three are under development. Bactest uses interest groups to share knowledge and know-how, using industry organizations to disseminate the project results via newsletters, magazines and presence in international conferences. A project web site hosted at communicates public reports, project deliverables, case studies, events and articles. Multiple social media routes are used to promote the project and results. We have attended 3 conferences, 6 workshops, 1 international exhibition, organised 4 workshops, pitched to greater than 30 potential trialists and primary customers, pitched to 9 collaborators and distributors, communicated 7 attendances or pitches in social media, and organised numerous mini-marketing campaigns. We have communicated to 1600 industry contacts and c.a. 30 customers with 112 interested parties.
Commercialisation Plans have been created that detail markets and barriers, the product and who it should be used by, product positioning and logistics of supply. Competitive analysis has been undertaken and strategies for dissemination, sales generation and support have been identified. Markets are broken down by geography and application. Documentation, certifications & Legals have been considered. Much of the marketing documentation is already developed for the product including data sheets and sales support literature. Trial documents and case studies are used as sales aides. A proprietary calculator has been developed that allows rapid identification of potential energy savings and Return on Investment for individual customers, and supports sales proposals. An IPR directory lists innovations developed in the course of the project. Bactest has registered one new patent and two more are under development. One white paper has already been published and three are under development.
The project has already had an impact in that the upgraded Shepherd (V2) delivered in the project is a significantly improved product that has been welcomed by the market place and can be supplied to customers. It features a smaller sensor head, split control cabinet for ease of transport and installation, improved cabling and connections, plus new components for stability and reliability. Digital and analogue outputs are installed for process control, and a Cloud dashboard and upgraded local display enhance the users experience. The Version 2 system, although not as sophisticated as the final Version 3, is already a credible product that can reduce customers energy and carbon emissions with manual or automatic intervention of aeration. Version 2 is already beyond state of the art as it delivers data and information that is unique in the industry. Deployments have shown significant potential energy saving compared with current dissolved oxygen technology, while toxic event monitoring is only available with the Shepherd system.