Case: AVK - Wastewater as a resource

The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice.

The United Nations’ 17 goals for a sustainable future should not only be UN’s. It should be ours, all of us, if we want to be successful by 2030.

At AVK, they primarily focus on goal no. 6 in helping provide safe drinking water and decent sanitation for all. Looking at the challenges we face globally, we still have a way to go before crossing the goal line. It is a fact that 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities; it is a fact that 4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines, and it is a fact that more than 80% of all wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or the sea without any treatment or pollution removal.

But what if waste is no longer considered waste? 30-50% of a municipality’s energy consumption is used for water- and wastewater handling. The water- and wastewater sector accounts for 8% of the global energy consumption. What if wastewater is seen as a resource instead of a problem?  What if we can turn wastewater into renewable energy, producing electricity, biogas, district heating or -cooling, and recover other valuable resources from the sludge, e.g. phosphorus?

“What if..” is no longer a relevant question. It is possible to turn wastewater into renewable energy. 

Today, the city of Aarhus has succeeded in making the whole water cycle of Marselisborg catchment area energy neutral, servicing 200,000 people with fresh clean drinking water, and turning all the wastewater from the same area into energy. The water loss, NRW, is down to approx. 6% and the net energy production is 1.6 times of what the treatment facility is consuming itself. This has been achieved through digitalization of the wastewater facility resulting in a much higher use of sensors, variable speed drives and advanced process control offering both energy savings and increased energy production from the household wastewater.

This vision is replicable as underlined in the IEA World Energy Outlook 2018. It is now possible to change a highly energy consuming wastewater sector into a positive net energy provider.

If all of today´s existing wastewater treatment plants were turned into energy producing plants, the global energy saving would be 8%, and the local municipality could save approx. 40% on the energy bill.

Today, water handling counts for 4% of the global electricity use, which equals the whole electricity demand of Russia – just to put it in perspective. The aim must be to make the whole water cycle through society energy neutral. By optimizing and introducing SMART technology in both wastewater treatment plants and in the water supply, the goal is within reach. 

AVK is a part of this new type of power plant of the future. AVK products are the back bone of the plant. Up-time is essential for a wastewater treatment plant. It is not easy to ask society to stop using water for a while, or the nature to hold back rain. We make it possible to service and maintain the equipment, as the operator has to be able to rely on well-functioning valves, that can shut of drop tight. We make it possible to control the flow streams through the plant with our modulating control design of our knife gate valves, and we deliver high quality valves and actuators, where energy consumption has been a priority. Both when it comes to KV-value and pressure drop across the valve, but also when it comes to open, closed or modulating mode of the valve. 

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