Bavarian Innovation Award on Wastewater Treatment 2016
The municipality of Theres, Unterfranken, Bavaria, was awarded the Bavarian Innovation Prize 2016.The new groundbreaking concept for the replacement of an aged waste stabilization pond which was developed by AKUT will obtain a natural way of treatment combined with an inexpensive way of operation.
The innovative design for the combined sewage treatment comprises a raw wastewater filtration wetland in the first stage and a nitrification wetland as secondary treatment.
Energy efficient wastewater treatment
In her laudatory speech the Bavarian minister for environment, Ulrike Scharf, accentuated the pilot character of the system for Bavarian municipalities in the rural area. She praised the possibility of high quality treatment without the requirement of electrical energy supply.
Standard technical treatment systems need extra energy for aeration, motor driven actuators and pumping.
In this case flow through wetlands is solely driven by force of gravity. The key technical component for establishing intermittent flow to the optimized filtration wetlands is a self-regulating mechanical siphon. The two siphons are capable of transporting even raw wastewater with high flow rates to both treatment stages. By floating the filter surface within a short period of time the best distribution and a maximum of natural oxygen input is achieved. No extra energy for aeration (aerobe treatment and nitrification) is consumed. These siphons are robust and minimize operational work. A model of this siphon was demonstrated at the AKUT booth in Munich at IFAT 2016.
Innovative wetland systems substitute inefficient waste stabilization ponds
The treatment of combined sewage in constructed wetlands in Germany is a virgin territory. For this purpose we can rely on tremendous expertise of our French neighbours. More than 3,000 so called “French Systems” with two-stage raw wastewater treatment are serving French municipalities. These systems have successfully suppressed conventional stabilization ponds because of their very good overall performance and stable operation conditions. 20% of these systems treat combined sewage.
The DWA expert group on small treatment systems has intensively checked the French approach. Together with experts from the research institutes IRSTEA and UFZ main design criteria have been fixed for separate and combined sewage treatment. The minimum surface area for treatment is 2 and 2.5 m² respectively. By describing these systems in the revised guideline for design, construction and operation of constructed wetlands DWA-A 262 (draft April 2016) a new boost for wetland technology in Germany is expected.
Foto (left to right): Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens Nowak (AKUT Berlin), Price winner Matthias Schneider (1. Mayor of Theres), Ulrike Scharf (Minister of Environment, Bavaria), Dipl.-Ing. Reinhard Müller (AKUT Hesse)
First African Biogas Forum
AKUT was prominently represented at the 1st African Biogas Forum in Nairobi.
The “African Biogas Forum” aimed to promote and support the sustainable development of the biogas sector in Africa, particularly Kenya. The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Hon. Keter and the Deputy German Ambassador H.E. Deru launched the Forum. The event was supported by GIZ and the initiative “Renewables – Made in Germany” whose mission is to provide information upon the performance, efficiency and reliability of German renewable energy industry.
At our exhibition stand our Kenyan colleagues presented AKUT´s range of services in the areas of biogas, sewage and development cooperation. Additionally, our employee Mr. Dipl.-Ing. Romas Radtke gave a lecture about our various Kenyan projects: from the domestic small biogas plant via school energy stations with anaerobic digestion, wastewater treatment (aerobic / anaerobic) to industrial biogas plants, for example Kericho. The focus of his presentation was placed on the economics of small biogas plants and semi industrial biogas plants under the given economic conditions. He concluded that the production of biogas at most medium-sized farms with waste quantities of 5 to 15 tons per day was not economically feasible with the current fed-in tariffs. Exceptions to the rule are cases were the treatment of sewage / waste is in the foreground as biogas merely constitute an additional advantage here.
As a participant in the panel discussion “Biogas solutions”, Mr. Radtke presented various custom tailored solutions for AKUT´s customers illustrating our slogan “Customized Concepts for Environmental Technology”. Since 2006 AKUT is active on the Kenyan market. Intensive demand for an adjustment of the feed-in tariff for electricity from biogas has been emphasized. A working group of members of the biogas industry and customers is in charge to find solutions concerning this. The required increase to 15 US cents per kWh will allow a variety of projects that are not financially viable until now. Currently the market is limited only to customers with both: high volumes of waste and high energy demands as well. Through an appropriate feed-in tariff it will become more reasonable to produce power from biogas for the general market.
At the same time it became clear that the benefits of biogas in particular towards solar PV are not adequately addressed and promoted by policy makers.
It has been pointed out that compared to other Sub-Saharan African Countries the Kenyan market is already well developed – despite all limitations.
Natural systems + engineered water treatment processes in the focus of AquaNES
Starting in June 2016 our latest research project will investigate the benefits of various combinations of engineered treatment steps with constructed wetlands. In order to analyze additional elimination of trace organic compounds in the effluent of a wastewater treatment plant a pilot plant is going to be built at the wastewater treatment plant Schönerlinde (Berlin) in collaboration with Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin (KWB – Berlin Centre of Competence for Water) and Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB). In this case an upstream ozonation stage will be combined with two different types of constructed wetlands. This combination has the objective to eliminate and reduce those persistent pharmaceutical residues which – without additional pre-treatment in wastewater treatment plants – would pass subsurface and surface flow treatment wetlands.
The project is part of a European research network named AquaNES. 30 partners in 10 countries will investigate on different focuses. Next to wastewater treatment systems the recycling of waters for drinking purposes through bank filtration and groundwater recharge are main components.
At the same time innovative measurement methods for quick detection of E.coli and antibiotic resistances shall be applied within the project. With new assessment methods and the development of decision-making tools including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Ecosystem Services Analyses (ESA) planners and operators shall be supported.
At the first project meeting of all AquaNES participants, Valérie Bénard, Project Officer in the Environment & Resources Unit of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), pointed out that high expectations are related to the project. After the ambitious and more than a year lasting procurement procedure with the identifier “Water-1b-2015” for innovative demonstration and pilot plants in the program Horizon2020 only 8 out of 160 proposals have been awarded and will be realized. The total budget of this project is going to be 10.7 million EUR, 73 % sourcing from public funding. The project is coordinated by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Wintgens, Institute for Ecopreneurship at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland.
Results of all sub-projects will be disseminated within the next three years (project timeframe until May 2019) in different publications which shall lead to broader application of best practices in the water sector.
AKUT is assigned to elaborate guidelines and manuals for planning and operation of well-functioning combinations of engineered wetlands with technical systems. Pilot plants of other partners are located in Rheinbach (Germany), Packington (England) and the Greek islands Antiparos and Thirasia.