Grundfos has been awarded a S$1.4 million grant by the Singapore Environment and Water Industry Programme Office (EWI) to develop a novel wastewater filtration technology that can significantly reduce capital investment and operational costs for wastewater treatment.
The grant comes under the National Research Foundation’s Incentive for Research and Innovation Scheme (IRIS). Administered by EWI, which is led by PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, and various partner agencies, the scheme provides funding support on a competitive basis for research. Besides funding the R&D, the grant will include a pilot demonstration of the technology upon successful proof of concept.
Using unconventional technologies to accelerate results
Grundfos’ R&D project will focus on the industrial treatment of wastewater using a unique cake filter made from activated sludge. Activated sludge is the ‘active ingredient’ of a biological wastewater treatment plant, which contains a suspension of bacteria that feed on wastewater impurities, thereby cleaning it.
The Grundfos cake filtration technology utilises the unique physico-chemical properties of this material to construct superior filters on simple supports. Unlike conventional technologies, such as ultrafiltration, which require a lot of energy and maintenance during operation, the cake filtration technology requires very little energy as it can operate under the low water pressure generated by gravity.
The cake filtration method is illustrated in the four-step process below:
Step 1: The cake filter is formed by collecting the activated sludge on a porous support frame.
Step 2: The cake filter is treated to deliver hydraulic properties and remove impurities so as to meet the required effluent-discharge standards.
Step 3: After treatment, the cake filter is now ready to be used to filter secondary effluents from wastewater treatment plants.
Step 4: A backwash will easily remove the used filter to make way for a new cake.
The cake filtration produces superior filtrate quality compared to traditional techniques and that can be safely discharged into the sea. The effluent discharge standard is comparable to that of membrane filtration, while halving the cost of effluent polishing, which is the removal of impurities from secondary effluent. There is further potential to treat the filtrate and recycle it for irrigation or industrial uses.
The technology is expected to fit in with a broad range of solutions for water treatment, and wastewater discharge and recycling. The R&D will enable the development of a suite of wastewater treatment solutions.
Tapping into global and industry expertise
The Grundfos Water Innovation Centre in Singapore, headed by Dr Gao Xin, will be leading this project with support from the Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), a world-leading research institute in the areas of water and environmental technologies.
Established in 2012, the Grundfos Water Innovation Centre in Singapore is an extension of Grundfos R&D Centre in Denmark. It collaborates closely with international water experts to develop innovative solutions to address modern water challenges, such as flooding, rainwater capturing and wastewater recycling in Asia.
Mr Lars Enevoldsen, Group Vice President of Grundfos Global Research and Technology, looks forward to take Grundfos’ research on the cake filtration technology to its next level as a cost-effective solution for the treatment and re-use of wastewater: “The cake filtration project relies strongly on precise and controlled pumping of water and sludge, and will offer a good study platform on the optimisation of cost and energy use in pumping operations. I’m confident we will set new research benchmarks in both Denmark and Singapore through this collaboration.”
Mr Okay Barutçu, Regional Managing Director of Grundfos Asia Pacific, expressed that Grundfos has been addressing the world’s water challenges as a major technology and solutions provider, in addition to being a pump company. “Pumps of course play a vital role in the transportation and treatment of water today, but pumps also account for 10% of the world’s electricity consumption. We are developing new technologies, which will not only improve the responsible use of water, but at the same time, greatly optimise the cost and energy consumption of recycling water. We are proud to be partnering with PUB and NEWRI in this important project,” Mr Barutçu said.
Prof Ng Wun Jern, Executive Director of NEWRI, said research collaboration with world leading companies such as Grundfos would allow research to move beyond the generation of knowledge and to apply as solutions that are of great value to the industry, “We foresee that sludge management will be a major industry requirement and NEWRI’s expertise in water and waste management can contribute to Grundfos’ effort to develop cutting-edge technology in Singapore.”
Picture: from L to R: Mr Lars Enevoldsen (Group Vice President of Grundfos Global Research and Technology) Mr Harry Seah (PUB’s Chief Technology Officer and Director (Technology Development) for EWI); Mr Okay Barutçu (Regional Managing Director of Grundfos Asia Pacific); Dr Gao Xin (Head of Grundfos Water Innovation Centre, Singapore)