From September 22, 2023, to November 22, 2023, a pilot project was conducted at the wastewater treatment plant of DUNACELL Ltd. The quality assurance on the Dunacell side was overseen by David Eisenberger, the plant manager, while Peter Szombathy, CEO of Water MiniLab, coordinated the collaboration from our side.
The regulation of wastewater treatment plants crucially depends on the quality of the treated effluent, known as the discharged wastewater into the receiving water body. Compliance with legally defined limits for various water chemistry parameters is mandatory, as failure to do so may result in fines during inspections. Additionally, the current water quality of the treated wastewater determines the amount of chemicals needed for efficient purification. Excessive chemical dosing will result in both unnecessary extra costs and increased environmental impact on the receiving water body, while too little chemical dosing can lead to over-limits and penalties. Therefore regular monitoring of water quality reduces risks, ensuring optimal plant operation.
Water MiniLab's research indicates that both domestically and internationally, common practices often lead to excessive aeration in bioreactors to meet regulatory limits. This not only involves excessive aeration but also results in higher-than-necessary chemical dosages, incurring unnecessary costs for operators. The assumption for the Dunacell wastewater treatment plant was that certain steps in the purification process could be optimized. The two-month pilot project aimed to demonstrate the reliability of the instrument and identify cost-saving opportunities while relieving the on-site laboratory with accurate automated measurements.
The project focused on the daily measurement of four chemical parameters (phosphate-phosphorus, ammonium-nitrogen, nitrate-nitrogen, and dissolved COD). Water MiniLab's automated instrument facilitated automated measurement of all four parameters using a single MiniLab device. With one measurement per parameter per day, a total of 240 measurements were conducted at the Dunacell wastewater treatment plant over the two-month period. The MiniLab instrument, capable of storing sufficient chemical reagents for 240 measurements, eliminated the need for tray replacement during the project. The addition of a 0.45-micrometer ceramic membrane filter allowed reliable automatic sampling even from the final activated sludge basin. The presence of lignin, a substance forming gelatinous brown coatings on surfaces, did not hinder the instrument's performance, thanks to the absence of electrodes or flow-cell measurements prone to lignin adhesion. Another advantage of the device that it can also take measurements during weekends and other holidays, thus supporting operations.
In conclusion, the study emphasizes that regular and accurate measurement of specified parameters is essential for safe, environmentally friendly, and efficient plant operation. The MiniLAb device, beyond cost reduction, also seamlessly integrates into the everyday operation of wastewater treatment plants of various capacities, contributing to their reliable and sustainable functioning.
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