Because of technical innovations, advanced wastewater treatment and desalination can be delivered to exactly where they’re needed
The idea of decentralized wastewater treatment is nothing new if you think about it. Consider septic tanks in rural areas. Small-scale desalination was even described by the ancient Greeks. So, why is decentralized treatment getting so much attention lately? Simply put, advances in technology have increased efficiency and reduced cost to the point that bringing treatment to where it’s needed — without the need for extensive collection and distribution infrastructure — has become practical and affordable.
Wastewater Treatment and Desalination
Technical innovations have allowed for more compact and efficient water treatment processes. Take, for instance, wastewater treatment with membrane aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) technology. What makes MABR so revolutionary compared to traditional activated sludge treatment systems?
In MABR treatment, nitrification and denitrification processes that once required two or more chambers can now take place simultaneously in one tank, thanks a biofilm that forms on a spirally wound membrane. This membrane makes possible an enormous surface area in a small space.
Traditional systems require compressed air to aerate wastewater with bubbles, requiring burdensome amounts of energy. MABR treatment, in contrast, aerates at atmospheric pressure, slashing energy costs. These innovations are responsible for an increase in flow volumes and effluent quality, and a steep reduction in operating costs.
Desalination went through a similar revolution in the mid-2010s when Israeli scientists and engineers significantly improved reverse osmosis (RO) desalination to make the process much more cost-effective.
At Fluence, we have been actively developing technical solutions, including brine concentration, which minimizes discharge costs and environmental footprint. Fluence desalination solutions feature a high recovery rate, and a reduced need for energy and chemicals.
Because of this type of technical evolution, the market for desalination, once cost-prohibitive, has broadened significantly and made desalination obvious fit for decentralized applications.
Smart Packaged Treatment
Fluence has brought these innovations to market in the form of Aspiral™ wastewater treatment plants and NIROBOX™ desalination plants. These Smart Packaged solutions are supplied in easily transportable, plug-and-play shipping containers.
The units can be quickly deployed where they’re needed, requiring minimal site preparation. Traditional large, centralized plants run the risk of becoming expensive white elephants when needs change. On the other hand, decentralized plants offer flexibility because plants are easily scalable with the addition of units, and can be moved or sold when they’re no longer needed at a particular location.
In addition, Fluence’s decentralized solutions feature smart technology with remote monitoring that allows for a reduction in on-site staffing.
Emphasis on Resilience
When a client receives a packaged treatment unit, the box isn’t unloaded into a building: The box is the building. Shipping containers are weatherized steel, rated for hurricane-force winds, and routinely weather storms on the high seas.
The base paint applied by the container manufacturer consists of a zinc primer, an epoxy primer, and an acrylic topcoat. Fluence then augments the manufacturer’s paint job with thermoplastic paint for C5-M, very high-corrosion marine environments such as Caribbean and Latin American coastal areas. A bitumen coating is applied to the bottom of units.
Wind resistance, specialized coatings, and the adaptability to decentralized applications deliver the climate change resilience that the World Bank and other organizations are strongly urging. And, having a low energy requirement means a plant can even be deployed in areas off the electric grid, powered by alternative energy sources.
How can Smart Packaged technology help meet your wastewater treatment or desalination needs? Contact Fluence to discuss your next project with our experts.