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BHR Group’s digital tool helps water utilities overcome sludge pumping challenges

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A new digital tool developed by BHR Group is being used by water utilities to analyse their sludge pumping systems and reduce costs.

The software, known as SLOT 2.0, is able to calculate sludge flow properties and behaviours, as well as frictional pipe pressure losses and system curves. It can also identify the most effective pumps to use on any system, selecting the optimal size, type, quantity and configuration.

Changes to legislation around sludge disposal to land has changed the nature of the sludge being processed by wastewater treatment plants, with sludge becoming thicker and volumes increasing at most sites. New types are also emerging, and their rheological profile cannot be predicted using existing data.

In order to address these new challenges, SLOT 2.0 – which stands for System LOsses Tool – has been developed to help utilities better understand their sludge. Users are able to predict sludge rheology based on type, temperature and the proportion of dry solids.

“Water companies are being challenged to optimise their existing facilities in the next asset management period, AMP7, which starts on 1 April 2020,” explained Mick Dawson, consultancy director at BHR Group. “Whether users are moving sludge within a treatment facility or between sites, SLOT 2.0 can help calculate how much energy is required, which pipes and pumps offer the greatest efficiency and whether a system has the capacity and resilience to manage changing sludge properties.

“Assets for sludge transport and treatment are expensive to buy and operate, especially with the capital cost of pumps and the energy they consume. In addition, they are often expected to operate at a wide range of flow rates and conditions.

“If the system and its components are wrongly sized it could significantly impact the purchasing and operating cost of the process system - increasing total investment for no discernible return or failing to deliver the flow required. SLOT 2.0 gives the user and utility multiple benefits, but at its core is the reduced risk of asset failure.”

Beta testing of the software has been carried out by water utilities and contractors, including NMCN, Sweco and DPS.

Dawson concluded: “The development of SLOT 2.0 has been a major investment of time and resource for the team here at BHR Group. Feedback from our beta testers has been very encouraging and we believe this technology will raise the game on sludge processing across the water industry. It’s great to see people using it and starting to capture the benefit.”