Increasing Resource Efficiency in Waste Water Treatment Plants

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Resource or Project Abstract

Wastewater treatment is a resource-intensive process that utilises several inputs, such as energy, chemicals and water, to produce an effluent that meets designated environmental standards. Driven by environmental regulations, the focus of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) has traditionally been the quality of the effluent and not necessarily the energy or resource effi- ciency of the plant. Regulations and penalties provide incentives to meet environmental effluent standards; however, to date, there are no such analogous pen- alties or incentives to expedite a focus on resource efficiency. It is imperative to recognise that resource utilisation and, indeed, sludge management also have significant environmental consequences, and therefore WWTP performance should be viewed holistically. This research sought to address this challenge by adopting a multi-pronged approach to audit and benchmark the resource efficiency of Irish WWTPs, including the use of life-cycle analysis (LCA) and exergy analysis. This study showed that the performance of WWTPs is a function of many variables, including some that the plant manager has little control over, such as influent concentrations and discharge requirements. Therefore, common, simple benchmarking metrics, such as kWh/ m3 or kWh/PE, are unlikely to allow fair comparisons across plants. Similarly, energy audits or water quality testing alone are not sufficient for comprehensive audits and benchmarking plant performance. Effectiveness and efficiency should not be considered separately, and the ultimate goal should be to operate WWTPs that are both effective and efficient. In general, this is best achieved at the design phase, during which the longer term life-cycle costs and performance of the WWTP can be anticipated and optimised, rather than by solely focusing on the initial capital costs.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Lorna Fitzsimons
Dublin City University

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Att 1    EPARR_168_Fitzsimons_ESSENTRA_prn.pdf   (2.64 Mb)
Att 2    MetadataPlant_KPI_and_Variable_Characterisations_anonymised_NUIG.xlsx   (0.23 Mb)
Att 3    MetadataPlant_KPI_and_Variable_Characterisations_anonymised.xlsx   (0.18 Mb)

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Author(s)Fitzsimons, L.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationIncreasing Resource Efficiency in Waste Water Treatment Plants
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifier82ff6a8b-e5f3-11e5-ab63-005056ae0019
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2023-05-28

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Fitzsimons, L.   "Increasing Resource Efficiency in Waste Water Treatment Plants". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2023-05-28)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource KeywordsEnergy Audit, Process Control, Wastewater Treatment Plants
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2012-W-MS-10
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWaste and Resource Management
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 3
Project Start Date Sunday 1st January 2012 (01-01-2012)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 1st January 2012 (01-01-2012)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 31st December 2015 (31-12-2015)
Published on SAFERWednesday 9th March 2016 (09-03-2016)
Date of Last EditMonday 9th May 2016 at 15:57:54 (09-05-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Monday 9th May 2016 at 15:57:54 (09-05-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
Ten representative Irish WWTPs were audited in detail.The plants varied in scale, with regard to their design capacities [which were quantified in terms of units of population equivalent (PE)], from 600 PE to 186,000 PE.Simultaneous energy and resource consumption and water quality audits were undertaken, resulting in the development of benchmarking tools and auditing methodologies, and the detailed performance evaluation of the plants in order to support better resource management and to provide baseline data on the holistic performances of the WWTPs.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
The focus of this project was the resource efficiency of Irish wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The perspective of the report is both operational (eco-nomic) and environmental. Wastewater treatment is are source-intensive process, with three main resources being identified as those of greatest concern: energy,chemicals and water. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, wastewater treat-ment accounts for approximately 1% of the world's total energy consumption and 3% of the electrical load in theUSA (USEPA, 2010). This current estimation is mirrored in Europe, in which energy consumption is expected to increase significantly as a result of population growth and increasing environmental standards (Olsson,2012a). These figures should be seen in the context of the highly underdeveloped wastewater infrastructures in many countries and the expected increases in energy consumption resulting from new investments and regulations.
Supplementary Information

Dr Eoghan Clifford, Edelle Doherty: Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway, Galway

Greg McNamara, Dr Brian Corcoran, Thomas Phelan, Dr Yann Delauré and Matthew Horrigan: Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
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