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2.4.04 Adapted wastewater technologies – knowledge gaps filled

Germany is a world leader in the field of water technology. However, some knowledge gaps still exist – one example being the adaptation of wastewater technologies to altered conditions, such as the climate in different countries. These gaps have been successfully closed by a joint research project.

These altered conditions include extreme wastewater temperatures, low concentrations of easily degradable compounds, raised salt content or intensive algae growth in sewage ponds due to high insolation levels. The objective of the joint venture “Export-oriented research and development in the field of water supply and wastewater treatment – part II: Wastewater technologies outside Germany” was to adapt technologies for communal wastewater treatment tried and tested in Germany to different climate zones and boundary conditions. A further objective was to place greater emphasis on the subjects of recycling and planning methods. The research project thus helped to raise the quality and efficiency of wastewater treatment while ensuring improved and more sustainable use of the resource water.

During the first project phase, investigations were performed of the special conditions of communal wastewater treatment in the following twelve nations, which were selected as being representative of different world regions and development levels: Egypt, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, USA and Vietnam. This general survey was accompanied by 24 individual research and development projects, which were conducted by 11 different universities as well as numerous companies and focussed on three core areas.

Core area A: wastewater treatment

Core area A looked mainly at procedures that are standard in Germany and throughout the world: activated sludge processes, trickling filters, rotating biological contactors , submerged fixed beds and sewage ponds. German water technology can provide a wealth of experience in this area, which must be adapted to the relevant conditions. The focus is on the composition of the waste water, the temperature of the waste water and ambient air as well as the specific requirements for the purification plant process or treatment stages (mechanical, biological, nutrient elimination).

Project structure

Project structure
Project structure

Core area B: disinfection and water reuse

The sub-projects of the second core area focussed on water recycling possibilities as well as the analysis, demonstration and enhancement of selected wastewater treatment procedures. One particular area of research was the different requirements of wastewater treatment plants – varying by time of year (summer, winter) or users – for the generation of irrigation water. In addition, the scientists examined the use of anaerobic processes for the treatment of wastewater. Examinations of sewage sludge treatment and utilisation were also part of the project.

Core area C: wastewater treatment simulation and concepts

Demonstration system at the Yamuna Vihar treatment plant in New Delhi, India

Demonstration system at the Yamuna Vihar treatment plant in New Delhi, India
Demonstration system at the Yamuna Vihar treatment plant in New Delhi, India

Core area C comprised the projects in which locally adapted aids were devised for the planning of wastewater treatment plants outside Germany. These aids include adapted economic methods for variant evaluation, models for purification plant simulations, stepwise expansion concepts for adaptation to growing treatment requirements or rising pollution as well as working aids (“ExpoTool”, available from ifak e.V., Magdeburg) for project assessment, which provide quantitative evaluations and visual representations of the various treatment plant alternatives. With these aids, available alternatives can be described and presented – e.g. to ordering or contracting bodies – in a clear and meaningful manner.

Extensive documentation

Final clarification and digester of the Fujairah treatment plant, United Arab Emirates (provided by Passavant-Roediger GmbH)

Final clarification and digester of the Fujairah treatment plant, United Arab Emirates (provided by Passavant-Roediger GmbH)
Final clarification and digester of the Fujairah treatment plant, United Arab Emirates (provided by Passavant-Roediger GmbH)

The project documentation produced by the research initiative provides a wide range of tools and information to support the adaptation of treatment plant technologies to the specific conditions in different countries. For the first time, quantitative recommendations can be made for a range of known qualitative phenomena. In this context, the impact of the water temperature is of primary importance: in all projects involving measurement and assessment, the water temperature is the most important parameter in terms of the adaptation of wastewater purification and sewage sludge treatment processes to different climatic conditions. One of the most significant observations in this regard is that higher wastewater temperatures may greatly increase performance, but can also result in operational problems (e.g. siltation, insufficient oxygen supply) without the implementation of suitable countermeasures.

As well as being the subject of scientific publications and presentations, the results of the research project are summarised in the three reports “Requirements of wastewater technology outside Germany”, “Cross-project closing report” and “Guidelines for wastewater technology outside Germany”. The reports are available from the Ruhr University Bochum via the address specified below.

Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Lehrstuhl für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft und Umwelttechnik

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hermann Orth
Geb. IA 01/147
Universitätsstraße 150
44801 Bochum
Tel.: +49(0)2 34/32-2 30 49
Fax: +49(0)2 34/32-1 45 03
E-mail: siwawi@ruhr-uni-bochum.de
Internet: www.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/siwawi/
Funding reference: 02WA0539
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