Wastewater Plant Getting Energy-Saving Makeover

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

3/16/2014 5:07:00 PM
Wastewater plant getting energy-saving makeover

Staff writer

An upgrade is nearly ready for installation at the New Castle wastewater treatment plant. It is meant to improve the quality of wastewater quality and cut the city's cost of running the plant.

StarBurst Technology of New Castle provided the city a unique system that uses larger bubbles to aerate the wastewater. That will help keep the bacteria alive that's cleaning the water. 

Wastewater treatment systems use biological processes to remove pollutants. Most of these biological processes require oxygen, which is provided through a system of air compressors, distribution pipes, valves and diffusers.

Superintendent Steve Swoveland said the new aeration system is at least 50 percent more energy efficient and has cut the oxygen mixing process to just 5 minutes. The traditional mixing technology takes 45 minutes to mix using copious amounts of air and energy, he said.

"It will take a lot less electricity to mix the water and provide more oxygen for the organisms to work," Swoveland said. "I heard that it can cut down a plant from using 200 horsepower to 100."

The system is currently being tested in the last stage of the plant before treated water flows back into the Big Blue River, Swoveland said. The mixers have helped reduce the airflow requirement allowing the blowers producing the bubbles to not work as hard, he said. The mixers have no mechanical parts and are made entirely out of PVC pipes so they won't not deteriorate over time.

Swoveland said the city has the potential to save about $30,000 or more a year annually by switching to this system.

"We currently see the system has cut down energy use in one portion of our plant from 30 horsepower to 5," Swoveland said.

Swoveland said the plant is also in the process of fixing wear and tear on electrical pumps and valves. Other upgrades include rebuilding sludge pumps ($10,000 each), a break unit ($4,000) and two sand filters ($8,500 each). 

Sara Geer is a staff writer for The Courier-Times.