September 2010, Vol. 22, No.9
Bringing energy to the forefront
Several technical sessions and workshops show ways that wastewater treatment plants can conserve and recover energy
Energy recovery and energy conservation are popular topics at WEFTEC® 2010 in New Orleans, and for good reason, said the moderators and chairs of several of the technical sessions and workshops dedicated to this subject.
“Many utilities are starting to see power rates increasing with deregulation, and that is leading to higher operating costs,” said Bob Wimmer, wastewater process specialist at Black & Veatch (Overland Park, Kan.) and moderator of the technical session “Biofuels and the Wastewater Industry: Hop on Board or Get Run Over.” “There is also a consensus that the climate-change energy bill will eventually pass, and we don’t know what impact that will have on energy prices,” he said. Wastewater utilities are trying to be proactive and pre-emptively prepare for rising energy costs, he said.
Interest in energy recovery and conservation has grown because the idea of sustainability has really taken hold, said Tim Schmitt, senior environmental specialist at LimnoTech (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and moderator of the technical session “Renewable Energy, Equipment, and Controls.”
“The information is getting out there,” Schmitt said. “I don’t know if the economy has made it more urgent, but in general, people are looking at ways to save money, especially through energy conservation.”
It isn’t sustainability that is spurring this interest in energy but the evolving perceived role of wastewater treatment plants, said Philip Pedros, director of engineering at F.R. Mahony & Associates (Rockland, Mass.) and moderator of the technical session “Wastewater as an Energy Resource.”
“There seems to be a little bit of a shift,” Pedros said. “People are starting to see wastewater facilities as a resource. They’re asking themselves, ‘What can we get from the wastestream that we can recover as energy?’”
Looking at the present and the future
How wastewater treatment plants with the help of technology can become both energy generators and conservers is a question that will be answered in detail at WEFTEC. Presenters will explore cutting-edge research and tried-and-true methods that wastewater facilities use to produce energy, such as microbial fuel cells and combined heat and power systems. They also will examine such methods as energy audits and utility bill analysis to show how facilities can reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions and help develop sustainable operations.
One session, “Energy Management and Conservation Practices,” will feature several case-study-focused papers, including “Energy Efficiency in Wastewater Treatment in North America: A WERF Compendium of Best Practices and Case Studies of Novel Approaches” by Julian Sandino of CH2M Hill (Englewood, Colo.), and “Energy Conservation Measures for Municipal Wastewater Treatment — Innovative Technologies and Practices” by Steve Couture of the Cadmus Group (Watertown, Mass.).
“These are success stories,” said James Wheeler, session moderator and environmental engineer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This is what people are already doing. This isn’t some ‘pie in the sky’ idea that will require lots of tinkering. These aren’t going to fail.”
The “Renewable Energy, Equipment, and Controls” session, for which Wheeler serves as assistant moderator, was a product of collaboration with the biosolids group, Wheeler said.
“This is the first year that we worked with the biosolids group, because there is so much overlap,” Wheeler said, especially with such technologies as codigestion.
Papers in this session include “Maximizing Economic and Environmental Returns on Digester Gas System Investment” by Vic Smith at Greely and Hanson LLC (Chicago), and “$Millions of Reason$ to ‘Go Green’: A North Carolina Utility Finds a New Revenue Stream in Waste Heat Recovery and Power Generation” by Jennifer Bell at CH2M Hill.
WEFTEC attendees seeking information about more leading-edge energy research may consider attending the session “Wastewater as an Energy Resource.” It will feature such papers as “Manganese Dioxide as a New Cathode Catalyst To Treat Wastewater in Microbial Fuel Cells” by Baikun Li of the University of Connecticut (Storrs), and “Feasibility of Algae Production for Biofuel Using Sewage as Source of Nutrients in Tampa Bay, Florida” by Ana Lucia Prieto, a doctoral student at the University of South Florida (Tampa).
“This stuff is a long way out,” Pedros said. “These technologies are less immediate.”
Pedros said ideal attendees of this session would be process engineers who want to keep abreast of new technologies. But he said he thinks it would be a good idea for anyone interested in energy recovery to attend both cutting-edge research sessions and sessions about more established methods.
“Do it so you can see what’s happening far down the road and what’s happening now,” Pedros said.
Those who attend these technical sessions and workshops will not only have a chance to listen to discussions about energy conservation and renewable energy but also can interact and share knowledge.
Wimmer said that prior to the “Biofuels and Wastewater Industry” technical session, speakers will set up a blog. “We’re hoping to initiate discussion topics to start the conversation before WEFTEC,” he said.
At the workshop titled “Race to Energy Self-Sufficiency: Energy Management at WWTPs,” attendees will learn about such topics as codigestion, effluent heat recovery, and renewable energies, including wind and solar, and they also will have the chance to share ideas during an interactive session.
“We wanted to take advantage of the workshop format,” said David L. Parry, the workshop’s chair and a senior vice president at CDM (Cambridge, Mass.). “We recognize that some attendees can bring just as much knowledge as the speakers. They will have the opportunity to talk about what they’re doing.”
Parry said that during the interactive section, attendees will split into groups that focus on respective energy-related topics.
“They will have to choose to focus on one area or the other,” Parry said. “Hopefully, there will be a cross-section of those who are sharing stories and those who are listening. I fully expect that some people will want to go to more than one [section]. They can attend one while they have a colleague attend the other.”
Parry said he hopes attendees will see it as an “eye-opening experience.”
“They can see other aspects they may not have thought of,” Parry said. “They will have a diversity of choices.”
— LaShell Stratton–Childers,
Add social media to your WEFTEC experience
Take the WEFTEC® experience online and connect with other WEFTEC attendees using social media.
Visit the WEFTEC page (bit.ly/weftecfacebook) on Facebook before, during, and after the conference to see announcements, learn about featured sessions, and network with other attendees.
Share your experience and hear what others have to say 140 characters at a time using Twitter. Follow WEF at twitter.com/WEForg for official conference announcements. Use #WEFTEC to tag or search for WEFTEC posts.
Energy workshops at WEFTEC 2010*
W102: Cost-Effective Wastewater Reuse Systems That Minimize Energy Consumption and Maximize Emerging Contaminants Removal
Oct. 2, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
W115: Race to Energy Self-Sufficiency, Energy Management at WWTPs
Oct. 2, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
W215: Waste to Resource — Crafting Forward-Thinking and Pragmatic Approaches
Oct. 3, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Energy technical sessions at WEFTEC 2010*
TS052: Energy Management and Conservation Practices
Oct. 5, 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
TS053: Biofuels and the Wastewater Industry: Hop on Board or Get Run Over
Oct. 5, 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
TS054: Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Carbon Footprinting: Part I
Oct. 5, 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
TS057: Wastewater as an Energy Resource
Oct. 5, 1:30–3 p.m.
TS075: Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Carbon Footprinting: Part II
Oct. 5, 1:30–5 p.m.
TS096: Renewable Energy, Equipment, and Controls
Oct. 6, 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
TS103: Solids to Energy
Oct. 6, 1:30–5 p.m.
* This is a sampling of energy-related content at WEFTEC. For a comprehensive list, see the full technical program at www.weftec.org.
Operations Challenge 2010
Teams gear up for an epic showdown in the Big Easy
As WEFTEC® returns to the Big Easy, the competition at Operations Challenge is looking tough. After a close finish in Division 1 last year and a surprise champion in Division 2, the stakes are as high as ever.
The TRA CReWSers from the Water Environment Association (WEA) of Texas will return to compete in Division 1. The CReWSers are seeking their fifth win in 6 years — which would be a new Operations Challenge record.
With so much on the line, what are teams of talented operators doing to prepare for this pentathlon of public works?
Practice makes perfect
It’s no easy task to coordinate the schedules of four, five, or six hard-working operators. Finding the time to get them all together for a few hours each week is a challenge on its own.
“We all have different schedules,” said Stephen Motley, captain of the 2009 Division 1 runners-up, Terminal Velocity from the Virginia WEA. “We just try and do what we can.”
Wesley Warren, coach of Team HRSD, also from the Virginia WEA, said the Hampton Roads Sanitation District allots a certain number of sanctioned hours for his team to practice each season.
“We get between 40 and 50 hours to practice, and I break it down to 2 days a week and backtrack how many weeks until our event, so we usually practice 2 hours a day, twice a week for 12 weeks,” Warren said.
As the rules stipulate, with two new members on his squad, Warren and Team HRSD will remain in Division 2 this year, despite a second-place finish in that division last year. A first- or second-place finish moves a Division 2 team into Division 1 as long as most of the team members return. Warren is helping his rookies catch up by sending them a weekly Process Control test. This year, Team HRSD will include a female member for the first time in more than 20 years, he noted.
A whole new ballgame
To add to the training pressures, the Laboratory and Wilo Maintenance events have been completely overhauled.
“They’re killing us,” said Ed Staudacher, captain of the Illinois WEA Windy City Wizards. “We just got used to the old events.” The Wizards, relative newcomers to Operations Challenge, will be making their first appearance in Division 1 this fall. Last year, the team topped Division 2 with wins in the Laboratory and Process Control events.
The Wizards’ previous success in the lab event may not be of much help in 2010. In the revamped event, teams will perform all steps of an Escherichia coli membrane filtration analysis using Hach Co. (Loveland, Colo.) products, following all method requirements and aseptic techniques as outlined in the Hach m-ColiBlue24 method and Standard Method 9222B from the 18th edition of Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater.
Likewise, the renamed Wilo Maintenance event is completely different from past years. Now, the event will feature teams responding to separate and simultaneous “moisture reset” failure conditions on a pump — a Wilo USA (Melrose Park, Ill.) FA 10.33 — and a mixer — a Wilo TR 50-2.
“Since we are a newer team, we didn’t have as much experience with the old events as the other teams had,” Staudacher said. In their 3 years competing at WEFTEC, the Wizards improved from 24th to 12th to first place in Division 2. “We’re slowly getting used to them,” Staudacher said.
But Staudacher is looking on the bright side of having to learn new procedures.
“With the new events, at least you see improvement every time you practice; you find ways to improve,” Staudacher said. “It’s kind of nice, it’s refreshing. It adds a little more challenge to the event.”
And Staudacher isn’t the only one who sees the new events as an opportunity to make up some points and possibly upset the CReWSers. “I feel like this year will probably be more open than other years; with the two new events, you don’t know what to expect,” Motley said. “Any given day, anybody can win.”
Over on Team HRSD, Warren said he believes the Laboratory and Wilo Maintenance events are his team’s strongest, despite having to delay practicing until all of the new necessary equipment arrived.
In addition to each team’s private preparations, the other essential ingredient for a competitive Operations Challenge team is a state or regional competition. Call it preseason, spring training, or whatever you like, these preliminary competitions are invaluable to the competitors as they look toward October.
For many teams, individual state WEA competitions are do or die. Win, and you’re off to WEFTEC. Lose, and it’s another year before you can even qualify.
These state-run competitions offer a competitive environment that can’t be re-created in the practice room.
“When your state [Member Association] imitates WEFTEC, I think that helps a lot,” Motley said. At the Virginia WEA competition, Terminal Velocity came in first overall in the four-team competition. Warren and Team HRSD finished second.
“At state, you have to go in there prepared to do the best you can,” Warren said. “You have to do your best routine, you have to try whatever it is to get you to win, to get to go to WEFTEC. If you can’t do that, there’s no reason to keep going.”
But after the high-stakes atmosphere of local competitions, some teams hit the road a second time, traveling to larger invitational competitions. While less is on the line at an invitational, it offers another valuable training experience.
The New Jersey WEA hosts an annual invitational, the Spring Fling, in Atlantic City, N.J. As many as 20 teams compete in the same five events as at WEFTEC and, in many cases, the national event coordinators are on hand to supervise, according to Motley.
“The big help, at least this year, was because of the two new events — you got to do the two new events in front of the judges and know what mistakes you made, and what you’re not supposed to do, and those kinds of things,” Motley said.
While teams are putting it all on the line at the state level, at invitationals, they are free to experiment. Without the stress of qualifying, these events become a more relaxed environment than either WEFTEC or the local competitions.
“It’s good to get that head-to-head competition in,” Staudacher said. He takes his Wizards to the nearby Ohio WEA competition. “Ohio has a Division 1 team, and so instead of just going against other Division 2 teams, we can actually go head to head with a Division 1 team and see where we stack up,” he said.
Though Motley and Terminal Velocity finished first in Atlantic City this year, he said he’s not taking it as a sign that this is the year they knock the CReWSers out of the top spot.
“We’ve historically beaten them in New Jersey, so you can’t really take anything away from it,” Motley said.
Nonetheless, Terminal Velocity, Team HRSD, the Windy City Wizards, and every other team is working hard to prepare to take one thing away from New Orleans: a first-place finish.
2010 Operations Challenge events list
Process Control event. Teams must answer a number of multiple-choice questions, some short math questions with multiple-choice answers, and as many as four operational-type scenarios with four to six questions each that may require considerable calculations. The event is timed, with a maximum of 25 minutes allowed for completion. If a team completes the test before the end of the event, its actual time is recorded. This year the test will include a mandatory problem set.
Wilo Maintenance event. This event will test the teams’ ability to respond to separate and simultaneous “moisture reset” failure conditions for a Wilo USA (Melrose Park, Ill.) FA 10.33 submersible pump and TR 50-2 submersible mixer. The pump and mixer will be in adjacent simulated slide rail-mounted installations. Teams will safely remove the units from service, perform and document the required service to repair them, then place them back into service.
Collections Systems event. Teams will remove a section of in-service 200-mm (8-in.) gravity polyvinyl chloride pipe, fabricate a replacement section with a 100-mm (4-in.) service saddle, and install the replacement section with flexible repair couplings. Teams also must install a Sigma 900MAX sampler, manufactured by Hach Co. (Loveland, Colo.). After completion, judges will evaluate the repair’s water-tightness.
Safety event. Teams will conduct two simultaneous rescue efforts. While one team member responds to an unconscious heart attack victim, the other team members begin rescue efforts for an unconscious colleague in a manhole. After testing the atmosphere and ventilating the confined space, they will assemble Safe Approach (Poland, Maine) fall-protection equipment and descend from a Fibergate (Dallas)training platform to retrieve the victim. The victim will be revived with an automatic external defibrillator training module.
Laboratory event. Teams must perform all steps of an Escherichia coli membrane filtration analysis using products from Hach Co. (Loveland, Colo.). Teams must follow all method requirements and asceptic techniques as outlined in the Hach m-ColiBlue24 method and Method 9222B of Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater.
Operations Challenge 2010 teams*
Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos MCA (AIDIS)
Ozark Royal Flush (Arkansas WEA)
Canadian Cross Connection (British Columbia Water and Waste Association)
L.A. Wrecking Crew (California WEA)
North Bay Ryders (California WEA)
Pumpers (Central States WEA)
Shovelers (Central States WEA)
Centrifugal Force (Chesapeake WEA)
Hurricanes (Florida WEA)
Team GRU (Florida WEA)
Septic Soljahs (Hawaii WEA)
Windy City Wizards (Illinois WEA)
Mr. Hankey’s Crew (Indiana WEA)
River Rats (Missouri WEA)
Force Maine (New England WEA)
MASSerators (New England WEA)
Seacoast Sewer Snakes (New England WEA)
Cape Shore Workers (New Jersey WEA)
Bowl Busters (New York WEA)
Brown Tide (New York WEA)
Sewer Rats (North Carolina WEA)
sCRAPPERS (Ohio WEA)
Wastewater Rangers (Ohio WEA)
C’Raptors (WEA of Ontario)
OCWA Jets (WEA of Ontario)
Sludge Hammers (WEA of Ontario)
River Rangers (Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association)
DELCORA Loonatics (Pennsylvania WEA)
Die-Jesters (Pennsylvania WEA)
Aurora Ascending Aerobes (Rocky Mountain WEA)
Liquid Force (WEA of South Carolina)
Aqua Techs (WEA of Texas)
Dillo XXPress (WEA of Texas)
Power SAWS (WEA of Texas)
TRA CReWSers (WEA of Texas)
Gold Flush (WEA of Utah)
Wasatch All Stars (WEA of Utah)
Team HRSD (Virginia WEA)
Terminal Velocity (Virginia WEA)
*Complete list at press time
Volunteer to make a difference in New Orleans
WEFTEC 2010 service project incorporates community outreach
WEFTEC® 2010 heralds the beginning of a new tradition for the Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC).
On Oct. 2, WEFTEC attendees will have the opportunity to leave a positive imprint on the New Orleans community by constructing bioswales during this year’s WEFTEC service project, “Bioswales in the Bayou.” In addition to the service aspect, this year’s project will include a community outreach event called the Water Carnival.
“The big goal was to have something that was very much focused on community engagement,” said Haley Falconer, SYPC Community Service Project chair. “We will have different booths that have hands-on activities related to the environment, sustainability, and water.” This type of community outreach and educational component is something the SYPC has always wanted to incorporate with the service project and an element that it will try to include with future projects, she added.
The service portion of the project will take place in the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood near the Mississippi River that was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Global Green USA (Santa Monica, Calif.) is working to rebuild the community with low-impact development and sustainable design elements that include rain gardens and bioswales, Falconer explained. SYPC has arranged for WEFTEC volunteers to help create bioswales behind a few of the houses built by Global Green.
An anticipated 100 volunteers will spend the day constructing bioswales by planting vegetation, such as trees, shrubs, and various flowering plants, and laying soil. The bioswales are expected to remove silt and pollutants from runoff before it reaches surface waters and help mitigate flooding, Falconer said.
The service portion of the project will be divided into morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate as many people as possible, Falconer said. All volunteers will be provided lunch and beverages, as well as transportation to and from the convention center.
In the morning, the shuttle will leave the convention center at 8 a.m., and volunteers will be given a tour of the neighborhood that will show them how the project fits into the overall recovery effort, Falconer said. During an opening session about 9:30 a.m., local politicians and Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) leaders will talk about the project and WEF’s role in sustainability. In the afternoon, the shuttle will arrive back at the convention center at 4:30 p.m.
“It seems like a really good fit for the type of project that we’re looking for,” Falconer said. The hands-on project is something that volunteers can see a result of the work done immediately, she added. “But also it’s right in a neighborhood … so we’re able to interact with the people who live there,” she said.
The Water Carnival runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in a closed-off street near the bioswales construction. Local organizations, universities, and government groups will host booths featuring a water- or sustainability-related interactive activity. Children attending will get a book to take to each booth and receive a stamp or sticker indicating which booths they visit. Before leaving, the children will turn in their books for a pin commemorating their participation in the event, Falconer said.
Groups hosting booths will be able to talk about their purpose and what their role in the environment is, as well as teach and engage attendees with hands-on educational activities, Falconer said. WEF will have a booth to explain the organization’s role and “talk about what the bioswales construction is and how it fits into the community,” she added.
“It will be the biggest project we’ve done,” Falconer said. With the Water Carnival, this event will be different from the service projects at the previous two WEFTEC conferences, and it will showcase WEF and its community outreach commitment, she added.
This will be the third annual SYPC-hosted WEFTEC service project. For the first project at WEFTEC.08, called “Getting Out of the Gutter,” volunteers constructed a rain garden in Chicago. For the second project, “Wading for Wetlands,” volunteers helped restore an area of wetlands at the Orange County (Fla.) Utilities’ Northwest Water Reclamation Facility.
Register for the WEFTEC 2010 Service Project by indicating attendance on WEFTEC registration forms, or if you’ve already submitted your registration, call (877) 303-0724 to amend your form. For more information, contact Dianne Crilley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jennifer Fulcher, WE&T
SYPC events at WEFTEC
- WEFTEC Community Service Project, Oct. 2, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., registration required
- University Student Lounge, Oct. 3–5, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., lunch served 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
- SYPC Committee Meeting, Oct. 3, 8:30–11:30 a.m.
- Student Design Competition, Oct. 3, 12–6 p.m.
- WEFTEC Poster Symposium, Oct. 4–6, 9:00 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Student Chapter Annual Meeting, Oct. 4, 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
- Students and Young Professionals Networking and Career Fair, Oct. 4, 1–4 p.m.
- Young Professionals Technical Session 35, Oct. 4, 3:30–5 p.m.
- Young Professionals Reception, Oct. 4, 8–11 p.m.
©2010 Water Environment Federation. All rights reserved.