IWA Manchester (UK) 15th Young Water

Franck Jones
IWA Manchester (UK) 15th Young Water Professionals Conference
The main focus of this conference was on the topic “SMART”. “SMART” was defined in many
different ways by the all the presenters at this conference. However, the conference as a whole
was not very technical and had several presenters relating issues of their businesses to smart ways
in which they can be improved.
For instance, Richards Hawkins from SEAMS, claimed that costumers’ uncertainties and doubts
(such as investment and water project costs, etc.) could be resolved in smart ways by means of a
predictive model that optimises several outcomes based on data provided. The best outcome
would then be chosen for their customers. While it sounds somewhat impressive in theory, in
reality the model itself is flawed in the sense that real life uncertainties could give rise to at least
hundreds of possibilities, making predicting a clear cut outcome fairly pointless. However, their
model chooses a fairly limited amount of possibilities (not exceeding 10) with no real based
assumptions. Furthermore neither calibration nor validation was done using real life data from
their costumers, giving less credibility to their optimised outcome.
Figure 1. Optimisation model diagram by Richard Hawkins (SEAMS, 2014)
Business unrelated, Ali Elhajaji from John Moores University, talked about the water shortage in
Libya and the use of thermal desalination technology to produce sodium hypochlorite using
Libyan sea water, hopefully by means of electrolyses analysis. The research was conducted over
five regions in Libya, concluding that the northern part has an excess in water supply while
others are severely lacking. The reason for this was not explained during his presentation since
the work is still ongoing.
In contrast, Dr Mike Dempsey from Liverpool University, talked about a new “Expanded Bed
Biofilm Reactor” (dubbed EBBR) technology for wastewater treatment (tertiary nitrification)
being established at Manchester Metropolitan University (where he is also a lecturer). He
defined the technology as being a submerged biofilm process in which particles are fluidized
(bed of particles expanding). He cited many advantages of the technology which include:
- Excellent effluent quality achievable
- Energy Efficient: 0.12 kWh m-3 of wastewater treated
- Small foot print (85 PE m-2)
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Robust, controllable and no backwashing is required
Although suited for nitrification, it is also applicable for denitrifcation, BOD oxidation
and full-flow anaerobic treatment (which might be of some use at a later stage in my
PhD if we have enough time to conduct anaerobic treatment)
Figure 2. EBBR technology (MMU, 2014)
On a world related topic, climate change; Jonathan Ritson form Imperial College London looked
at dissolved organic matter production under climate change and its impact on treatment. He
classified DOC (dissolved organic carbon) in two categories: allochthonous and autochthonous.
These two distinct DOCs are distinguishable by three main properties: molecular weight,
aromaticity and ease of removal. Allochthonous have very high molecular weight while
autochthonous in contrast have very low molecular weight. Based on results, he concluded that
heather produced more DOC (dissolved organic carbon) and thus was more climate sensitive
than peat which produced the lowest DOC under rainfall conditions.
Conversely, Anie Yulistyorini from Leeds University investigated the nutrient uptake of green
microalgae at 32˚C under controlled laboratory conditions. She concluded that there is a good
correlation between the logarithm of volatile suspended solids of alga growth rate (biomass
productivity) and the cultivation time (with a coefficient of determination of 0.98).
On a fairly new topic being introduced into the water industry, Mark Bryce from Mott
MacDonald talked about deep shaft ventilation air management. Rightfully so, he conclude that
ventilation within the water industry is not well promoted as most existing standards are
borrowed from CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) which is more
suited to commercial buildings rather than sewers. He further added that, smart technology
could improve efficiency and reduce CO2.
On the modelling side, Folashade Akinmolayan from UCL (University College London) talked
about a superstructure optimisation model of clean water treatment processes. Her underlying
first principle modelling equation was simplified into empirical or hydraulic model equations by
using basic linear relationships (i.e. polynomial of 1st order, y=m.x+c). However, realistically
speaking this would induce large errors on final results. This is because part of her work is based
on the introduction of pH and pH follows logarithmic laws, which makes simplifications harder
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unless some drastic assumptions are made. Furthermore, her work was not innovative since it
was already established and she made no modifications nor added new terms to it. The
optimisation method was also questionable since, she showed a quadratic curve type which she
used to determine the minima and maxima. However, this in itself is flawed since as mentioned
before going by a logarithmic law, the asymptote at y=0 or y=β (β being a constant) makes
finding the minima “infinitely” impossible.
Similarly, Matthew Holmes from Newcastle University investigated the infrastructure resilience
(risk of cascading failure). He talked about the lag time (telephone exchange failure) in the
network system induced by the wastewater treatment plant to the storage room and its effect on
his modelling. However, this fact was never included in his model to quantitatively study its
impact, nor did he show any concrete validation or calibration. He concluded to say that smart is
thinking about systems and understanding your risks. But trying to be smart often gets
complicated and ultimately, being smart is all about managing this complexity.
Finally, Franck Jones (report’s author) from Brunel University established a new model for TMP
(transmembrane pressure) rise calculation during membrane fouling in a rotating membrane
bioreactor (MBR) system under constant flow. This was preceded by the development of an
initial fouling model under constant TMP and then later modified to include hydrodynamics (i.e.
air scouring, rotation, etc.). Starting from Hermia (1982) a fouling model was initially established
to determine different fouling mechanisms based on power laws. This was later modified by
Orsello (2006) for a dead-end filtration. Paul (2013), the author’s supervisor, further modified
this model for a side-stream membrane while also including the SMP (soluble microbial
products) effects. Lastly, the author reformulated these models for a rotating MBR introducing
for the first time the rheology of the activated sludge, shear effects and the air scouring impact.
Validation was done using various sets of data and calibration was done for short term filtration.
However, the author has yet to carry out a full calibration using long term filtration data and high
MLSS concentrations (> 5 g/l). It was concluded that viscosity indirectly affected the MLSS and
that the concentration of SMP appears to be correlated to the mixed liquor concentration.
Although the conference as a whole wasn’t very technical, it boasted a lot of positive points.
Such as new techniques being developed for trickling filters, issues from countries such as Libya
and Saudi Arabia being in dire need of water in certain regions since it is very scare, new business
techniques being implemented, introduction of air management in the wastewater industry and
finally impact of climate change on DOC production, were all refreshing new ideas introduced
into the field. More importantly networking allowed the author to gain valuable contacts that
would prove useful during the lifespan of his PhD.
Duclos-Orselloa, C., Li, W., Hob, C-C., 2006. A three mechanism model to describe fouling of
microfiltration membranes. Journal of Membrane Science, 280(1-2), pp. 856-866.
Hermia, J., 1982. Constant pressure blocking filtration laws-application to power-law non-Newtonian
fluids. Trans. IChemE., Volume 60a, pp.183-187.
Paul, P., 2013. Development and Testing of a Fully Adaptable Membrane Bioreactor Fouling Model for a
Sidestream Configuration System. Membranes 2013, 3(2), pp. 24-43.
Franck Jones
Pictures of Conference
Figure 3. Gala dinner, Manchester United Youth
Chorus (vocal) group (IWA, 2014)