WEFTEC 2012 primed for interaction, collaboration, progress
WEFTEC®, the largest annual water conference and exhibition in the world, is known for offering a blend of useful technical sessions and a packed exhibition. This year’s event — to be held Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 in New Orleans — is designed not to disappoint. Attendees will have 141 technical session and 24 workshops from which to choose. In the exhibition, more than 900 exhibitors will cover more than 27,000 m2 (290,000 ft2).
In addition, this year attendees will find more opportunities to interact, participate, and make connections. The word “innovation” will buzz throughout WEFTEC 2012.
The programming will kick off with the Opening General Session on Oct. 1 and set the stage for the rest of the conference.
The opportunity to connect with WEFTEC begins right now. With the newly upgraded WEFTEC app for mobile devices, users can learn details about the conference program, search for exhibitors, and even register for WEFTEC. For desktop users, the WEFTEC Planner provides the same information. Find more details and instructions on how to access these tools.
At the heart of the action
Even with the best planning, it can be hard to see it all. This year, to help make sure attendees get the best of all worlds, WEFTEC offers an increased number of technical sessions on the exhibit floor. More than 20 technical sessions will take place among the exhibitors’ booths. All attendees, regardless of registration category, have access to these sessions. In addition, some technical sessions will make full use of the exhibition by incorporating vendor visits. This approach will help attendees gain the manufacturers’ views on different topics. See more details in “One-stop shop.”
Showcasing the best and brightest
The Innovation Pavilion makes its debut at WEFTEC 2012. This area of the exhibit floor will bring together inventors, researchers, manufacturers, and creative problem-solvers of all types. The presentations and information in the pavilion will showcase the winners of prestigious industry awards, as well as share clever do-it-yourself fixes to pesky problems.
Grounded in the essentials
In addition to the emphasis on interaction, participation, collaboration, and looking toward tomorrow, WEFTEC 2012 offers strong core programming with 23 focus areas. One of the most robust focus areas is Facility Operations, Maintenance, and Wastewater Treatment. With 11 workshops and 49 sessions dedicated to the basics, this focus area ensures a solid basis upon which to build. Get a snapshot of this focus area.
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Transformation, metamorphosis, growth, progress, or innovation — call it whatever you like, change can be hard, but it reaps rewards.
These rewards are why the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) is leading the way to help prepare the water sector for what’s next. The theme of the WEFTEC® 2012 Opening General Session will be “A New Direction.” This theme ties into WEF’s new Strategic Direction.
The Opening General Session keynote speaker is Jim Carroll, a respected author, columnist, media commentator, and consultant who links future trends to innovation and creativity. Carroll’s presentation will focus on innovation and transformation strategy and is expected to frame the larger program theme and provide some tools and tips for how to achieve a higher level of success through significant, transformative change.
As one of the world’s leading international futurists and trends and innovation experts, Carroll has provided strategic guidance and insight to some of most prestigious organizations in the world. He is recognized worldwide as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business-model change, business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty, and the necessity for fast-paced innovation.
The Opening General Session is scheduled for Oct. 1, at 8:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend; no registration or badges are required for entry.
Exhibition provides attendees with both exhibits and technical sessions
WEFTEC® 2012 in New Orleans will feature something new on the exhibition floor: constant technical session programming side-by-side with equipment showcases and exhibitor booths.
Having sessions and exhibits in the same area benefits WEFTEC attendees. “There are vendors scattered all over the place, and your time on the floor is limited if you want to attend technical sessions,” said Peter Lamontagne of TheCentrifugeGuys.com and moderator of “Thickening and Dewatering,” Technical Session (TS) 37. “For our session, we cherry-picked the leading companies and leading equipment so that you would have them all in one place,” he said.
TS 37, which will take place on the exhibition floor, will feature a wide range of topics, such as nutrient removal using membrane thickening with aerobic digestion, dewatering sludge stabilization by thermal hydrolysis–anaerobic digestion, the odor potential of dewatered biosolids, and increasing the efficiency of dewatering operations. Lamontagne said the session is ideal for “anybody who is taking part in equipment selection or thinking about replacing outdated equipment.”
Lamontagne said that having the technical session on the show floor will enable attendees to see different types of equipment in person, as well as ask questions of those who are responsible for the design and operation of the equipment and know the most about the subject matter.
The ins and outs of regulation
The exhibition floor also will feature roundtable discussions on such topics as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effluent limitation guidelines (ELGs). At the session titled “EPA’s Stormwater Effluent Limitation Guidelines: A Moving and Disappearing Target,” the panel, which includes speakers from the International Erosion Control Association (Denver), will discuss ELGs for construction sites.
Topics the panel will discuss include
- a brief history of ELGs, dating from 2000 to the present, including the court cases and consent decrees that required EPA to propose these regulations;
- how various ELGs were determined; and
- the treatment systems needed to comply with different ELGs.
Based on the rules that have been promulgated to date, the panel also will speculate on what will happen with ELGs in the future.
One of the panel members, Richard McLaughlin, professor of soil science at North Carolina State University (Raleigh), said his part of the discussion likely will focus on generating ways to meet these guidelines through passive treatment systems with gravity flow.
In addition to asking questions of each other, the panel will field questions from the audience. The audience likely will include those “who are doing design for construction sites or stormwater management,” McLaughlin said. “This would include architects and engineers. Officials may be interested in this if they are trying to meet state turbidity goals.”
Though there have been no changes in ELGs in the past 4 years, McLaughlin said attendees will still be interested in the topic, because this is “a new area for anyone working in the construction industry and water issues, especially related to the Chesapeake Bay,” he said. “Somehow, in the next 4 to 5 years, the EPA is going to make these guidelines. This is a way to prepare.”
Also on the floor, attendees can hear more about other regulation-related issues. TS 67, “All Mixed Up: NPDES [National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] Permit Issues,” will cover whole effluent toxicity testing, wastewater phosphorus impacts on lakes, and mixing zones.
“All the papers are different, but all permitting issues are different,” said Mary Sadler of Hazen and Sawyer (New York), the session moderator. “It’s not really one-size-fits-all.”
Sadler said the ideal attendees for this session would be consultants, as well as utility personnel who deal with NPDES permitting issues. She added, “99% of WEFTEC attendees are intimately touched by these permits.”
“You have state law, but you’re also dealing with regulation policies that may not be codified in the law,” Sadler noted. At the session, attendees will “learn about the [policy] nuances among states, [and] maybe you can get your state to do something similar,” she said. “It’s a nice forum to hear about the subtleties and differences in permitting across the country,” she added.
Wastewater and renewable energy
Exhibition visitors also can attend sessions on emerging technologies that highlight wastewater as a renewable energy resource. At TS 50, “Algae Wastewater Treatment and Biofuels,” presenters will discuss “both the problem of excess algal suspended solids in conventional treatment pond effluent and the potential to improve sustainability and lower costs using modern algae-production systems for nutrient removal and biofuels,” said Tryg Lundquist, session moderator and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo).
Lundquist said the topic of using algae for renewable energy is even more important now that sustainability and energy security have come to the forefront internationally.
“Wastewater is still one of the main algae-growth substrates being considered by the U.S. Department of Energy, the European community, and many other countries,” he said.
Attendees also will have the opportunity to visit the exhibition during “mobile sessions.” These sessions will take attendees on a tour of the exhibition floor to tap into the resources and knowledge of the exhibitors. Mobile session topics will include thickening, trenchless technology, laboratory practices, and wastewater fundamentals for a nontechnical audience.
On Monday, Oct. 1, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., public officials can learn more about the fundamentals of the water and wastewater process. Participants will visit many vendors to hear an overview of the topics and equipment that they help oversee.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., two mobile sessions will take place. During the trenchless rehabilitation technologies session, attendees can compare options for collection system rehabilitation by visiting key technology vendors and hearing technical details. During the thickening and dewatering session, attendees will obtain technical information about this vital part of the treatment process from various vendors of equipment used for thickening and dewatering of solids.
A laboratory mobile session will be offered on Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Attendees will visit vendors specifically focused on such topics as monitoring, sample analysis, process control, and laboratory supplies and equipment.
In the water sector, innovation happens at all levels. But until now, the industry has lacked the dedicated entrepreneurial community that drives innovation in other sectors. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) seeks to change that with the Innovation Pavilion, which will debut at WEFTEC® 2012 in New Orleans.
Part of the WEFTEC exhibition, which runs Oct. 1–3, the pavilion will showcase inventions, products, services, and tactics that provide solutions to challenges and advances in thinking.
The programming kicks off with a keynote from Andrew Benedek, who founded Zenon Environmental (which was purchased by GE in 2006) and now serves as CEO of Anaergia (Burlington, Ontario). He will discuss Zenon’s success story and lessons learned, including starting a business, selecting partners, and avoiding excess competition at the start.
Additional sessions will focus on how to get innovative products to market by helping entrepreneurs connect with and gain insight from sector leaders, investors, and universities that have commercialized their technologies successfully.
The pavilion also will present simple solutions submitted via the Operator Ingenuity Contest. Selected speakers will present their ideas in the pavilion. These quick, clever solutions will underscore how the need to fix a problem with the tools at hand can inspire great creativity.
The pavilion also will feature winners of several innovation awards programs, including the WEF Innovative Technology Award, the Imagine H2O (San Francisco) prize, and the 2012 BlueTech® Forum. Former Imagine H2O winners and finalists also will showcase their developments. Read about some of the award winners that will be included in the pavilion in the sidebar (left).
Partnerships enhance innovation at WEFTEC
In the past year, WEF partnered with Imagine H2O and BlueTech Research (Vancouver, British Columbia).
“The partnership allows WEF to connect with startups in the water sector and help them leverage our community and resources,” said Barry Liner, director of the WEF Water Science and Engineering Center.
Imagine H2O is a nonprofit organization that empowers people to turn water challenges into opportunities. The organization’s annual competition and business accelerator program supports early-stage entrepreneurs in the water sector.
“There’s no Silicon Valley for water” said Scott Bryan, chief operating officer of Imagine H2O. “We’re building a global ecosystem for water entrepreneurship and innovation that provides a path-to-market resource.”
BlueTech Research, an independent market intelligence and consulting firm that focuses on the water sector, raises the profile of companies with the potential to solve water challenges and apply “disruptive” technologies. Disruption can be a positive force to replace the conventional with the more effective. “The partnership between WEF and BlueTech Research is based on a shared vision of a smarter, more efficient water system,” explained BlueTech CEO Paul O’Callaghan. “Both organizations share an unparalleled commitment to promoting water technology innovation and leveraging knowledge across the water sector.”
Turning challenges into opportunities
The water sector faces mounting pressures, from urbanization to aging infrastructure. “In the recent past, when fresh water was abundant and energy was cheap, change was not necessary,” O’Callaghan said. “In fact, there was little pressure to change business as usual. We don’t have that luxury anymore.”
The Innovation Pavilion will help practitioners understand future trends and entrepreneurs effectively capitalize on market opportunities. According to Imagine H2O, the wastewater market alone is valued at $200 billion per year across industrial, commercial, and residential sectors worldwide.
— Kristina Twigg,
The following companies received awards from the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), BlueTech Research (Vancouver, British Columbia), and Imagine H2O (San Francisco) during the past year for meeting challenges in the water sector with forward thinking. These award winners will have their work featured in the Innovation Pavilion at WEFTEC® 2012.
InfoSense (Charlotte, N.C.)
InfoSense’s Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool (SL-RAT) won the WEF Innovative Technology Award. The tool uses sound to detect sewer-line defects that can lead to sewer backups and overflows. According to InfoSense, the product can assess the condition of a sewer line quickly.
JCS Industries (Spring, Texas)
The JCS Industries Model 4100 Liquid Vacuum Doser also won a WEF Innovative Technology Award. The doser’s electronic flow sensor improves accuracy and regulates the feed rate of treatment chemicals added to water or wastewater. A feedback mechanism adjusts a valve to overcome air bubbles and maintain a consistent flow, avoiding pulsing pressure in the vacuum injector.
New Sky Energy (Boulder, Colo.)
New Sky Energy won Imagine H2O’s early revenue track for a technology that takes two major waste products from industry — carbon dioxide and salts — and combines them to create chemical compounds called “carbonates.”
“There are many, many uses for carbonates, and we are able to target any of those market uses,” said Deane Little, CEO of New Sky Energy. The process is a win–win that “provides an exciting opportunity to work with clients who are producing wastestreams and those who need chemicals.”
Bilexys (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
Bilexys, winner of Imagine H2O’s prerevenue track, also is using industrial wastewater as a source of raw materials. The company’s process uses naturally occurring bacteria to convert organics into plastics and high-value chemicals, including sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Generating chemicals onsite is not only less expensive — with a potential payback of 2 years — but also has a lower carbon dioxide footprint, compared to traditional
Wastewater Compliance Systems (Salt Lake City)
While biological nutrient removal is a more traditional use for bacteria, Wastewater Compliance Systems puts an innovative twist on fixed-film nutrient removal. The company’s Bio-Domes — also known as Poo-Gloos — are designed to remove nutrients in wastewater lagoons. The invention won the WEF Innovative Technology Award. As the name suggests, the dome-shaped systems create an optimal environment for the growth of beneficial bacterial colonies, even in cold weather conditions.
Ecolyse (College Station, Texas)
While bacteria can be harnessed for good, they also can create problems, such as pipeline corrosion, Nocardia foaming, and ethanol production disruption.
“Rather than using toxic chemical biocides to control bacteria, Ecolyse harnesses the power of Mother Nature,” said James Lancaster, Ecolyse CEO. The company won BlueTech Forum’s Disrupt-o-MeterTM Award for their phage-based biocontrol products.
“Bacteriophages can restore the natural balance of bacteria by leveraging natural predator–prey relationships,” Lancaster said. The company creates special phage blends that target specific bacteria, such as those that cause corrosion.
Water Remediation Technology (Wheat Ridge, Colo.)
Water Remediation Technology, winner of BlueTech Forum’s Go-to-Market Strategy Award, created a suite of media that removes radium, uranium, and other radioactive contaminants from drinking water without adding chemicals or generating liquid waste. The company not only provides process equipment but also handles, transports, and disposes of spent media at licensed facilities.
Diving into operations and maintenance technical
Even as the water sector redefines itself in terms of energy generation and resource recovery, operators always have and still do need a breadth and depth of knowledge to handle whatever their day-to-day job throws their way. WEFTEC® helps meet this need with extensive opportunities in workshops and technical sessions.
WEFTEC provides information not only on such traditional topics as process control and solids thickening but also on newer topics, such as energy efficiency and stricter regulations.
Technical sessions offer operators an opportunity to learn more about industry developments, as well as learn from others’ experiences. WEFTEC also offers other opportunities to improve and showcase operator performance, such as Operations Challenge (which will be previewed in the September issue) and the WEFTEC Ingenuity Contest (see “WEFTEC Innovation Pavilion will share successes, foster progress,” p. 34).
The following technical sessions are just a glimpse of what this year’s WEFTEC has to offer. A full list of technical sessions can be found at www.weftec.org or accessed through the WEFTEC mobile app (see p. 40).
Training strategies for improved skills
Utility managers have increased their expectations of operators and their skill sets. To that end, Technical Session (TS) 93, “Operator Training From a Trainer’s Perspective” includes a look at regional training in New England and New York, a training course at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), distance-based learning strategies in California, Web-based courses, and challenges in wastewater training for the 21st century.
Moderator William Edgar says the purpose of this technical session is to provide ideas and concepts used by leading trainers, including need-to-know criteria, certification training, and the effectiveness of training in passing state certification tests.
Modeling improves process control
Modeling is essential for learning more about what makes a process work more efficiently. TS 13, “A Model for Improved Operations,” provides a look into different areas of modeling and how they can improve operations. This session kicks off with a case study on clarifier rehabilitation at the South Central Regional Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Board located in Delray Beach, Fla. The facility sought to modify an existing internal clarifier mechanism using a computational fluid-dynamics (CFD) model of the existing clarifiers. The model was calibrated and validated with stress-testing data, then used to test modifications that would maintain clarifier performance while reducing the need for a bulky and expensive new center well. The CFD model used in the analysis, known as “2Dc,” can evaluate internal modifications to a clarifier while predicting variations in the effluent quality.
Nutrient criteria and control
CFD also is a valuable tool in biological nutrient removal (BNR), as will be presented in the first part of TS 104, “Challenges in Biological Nutrient Removal.” CFD was used to evaluate several baffle configurations for a range of flow conditions in BNR basins undergoing foaming problems at a North Carolina facility.
Other presentations during TS 104 will include how to improve anaerobic–anoxic–oxic treatment process performance during wet weather by alternating each tank’s hydraulic retention time. Other presenters will discuss the implications of nitrite accumulation in activated sludge treatment and the proposed nutrient numeric criteria in Florida. While the Florida criteria are in-stream standards and not end-of-pipe limits, some legal professionals think that the criteria will become discharge limits. The new criteria will be significantly lower than the strictest state standard to date and less than the lower limits of conventional technology — 3 mg/L total nitrogen and 0.1 mg/L total phosphorus.
Foam studies and strategies
Anaerobic digestion is the most-used process for stabilizing residual biological solids, and, as a result, digester foaming is common. TS 111, “Foam Control,” will dive deep into the topic, including a presentation of the results of a Water Environment Research Foundation (Alexandria, Va.) survey on anaerobic digester foaming and its causes and control measures, several case studies from the U.S. Midwest on understanding and controlling foam in digesters, and a test of a commercial defoaming product by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The defoamant, added directly to anaerobic digesters via the recirculation line, alters the physicochemical properties of digester foam by reducing surface tension. Initial results suggest that defoamant addition could be an effective tool.
Pumping, aeration energy savings
Energy use and efficiency will get a closer look in TS 57, “Energy Efficiency Opportunities,” especially in the areas of pumping and aeration efficiency. Engineers often lack plant influent and operational data to perform the dynamic simulations required to perform aeration design, so they perform steady-state simulations for conservative estimates that can lead to oversized equipment. The first presentation will examine a commercially available process simulator that uses the Monte Carlo risk-based approach to determine time and space requirements for aeration.
Another presentation will look at a new dynamic model and how its validation can produce a more accurate calculation of pumping energy (for centrifugal AC-motor-driven pumps) as a function of desired pumped flow rates. Field tests and three-dimensional CFD modeling are the topic of another presentation on evaluating the effectiveness of mixing in a jet aeration system for a sequencing batch reactor in Jacksonville, Fla.
— Cathy Chang,
Attending WEFTEC© 2012? Download the WEFTEC app on your smartphone for all the information you need on the go about the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) annual technical exhibition and conference.
With the app, users can access their personal schedules, the technical program, the exhibitor directory, and listings of committee meetings and other events. The newly updated app now includes a speaker directory with biographies and listings of each speaker’s technical sessions.
The app also enables users to register for the conference, make hotel reservations, and quickly access WEF’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Users can create and update personalized schedules through the My Briefcase menu in the app, as well as online through the WEFTEC Planner at https://wef.expoplanner.com. The online system and the mobile app sync automatically for registered users.
The free app works on iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerrys. To download, visit http://wef.expotogo.com.
©2012 Water Environment Federation. All rights reserved.