Pharmaceutical Wastewater TreatmentWestern Scotland
“Extensive bench testing, data analysis and an expert understanding of the legislation have been used to develop real life workable solutions and to deliver greater transparency of the plans to the regulator.”
At its manufacturing site in Western Scotland, this large pharmaceutical client has an effluent stream with a complex make-up of biological and chemical contaminants and a load equivalent to a medium-sized city. The wastewater requires multiple treatment processes to enable its discharge to the environment via a long sea outfall.
Prior to the partnership with Alpheus, the site ran the effluent plant themselves. However, a move to focus on core strengths and a wish to work with a partner who would deliver their long-term environmental, innovation, and efficiency goals, led to the decision to outsource the operation and maintenance in 2004.
At the beginning of the contract, Alpheus carried out a root-and-branch review of the treatment processes which at times had struggled to meet compliance. Treatment processes were stabilised and a new team of operators integrated into the plant. Alpheus then proposed that the assets used by the poorly performing bioreactor system could be converted into an anaerobic digestion system.
A bespoke design with pre-treatment stages was proposed and bench-scale tests carried out to obtain pre-funding. Agreement was reached with the environmental regulator and pilot trials were then carried out for an extended period to determine the potential impact of toxicity and nutrient deficiency from the pharmaceutical effluent on this process.
Alpheus assisted with a capital tendering process for the client, assessing the technical aspects of different designs and, ultimately, took the role of client representative during the upgrade project.
Following the successful implementation of the anaerobic digestion upgrade project, the plant is capable of generating enough electrical revenue to offset the energy costs of the entire effluent treatment facility.
Alpheus continues to provide operational, maintenance and embedded consultancy services to this client, managing a £2m annual operational budget whilst at the same time exploring new innovation strategies.
The on-site technical team, which is supported by the wider Anglian Water Group to create an ‘Innovation Group’, work to maximise the benefits of the new anaerobic digestion system and reduce costs associated with the older process. Specific projects, such as the focused optimisation of bio-gas production, continue to yield significant gains. At the same time, new legislation covering industrial emissions is providing a compliance challenge that will require major changes to how the site operates within five years.
Alpheus are determined to proactively meet this challenge and have initiated a number of strategies through the Innovation Group. These include employing the latest computer modelling to identify best available techniques and to reduce the costs involved in developing solutions. Extensive bench testing, data analysis and an expert understanding of the legislation have been used to develop real life workable solutions and to deliver greater transparency of the plans to the regulator.
Alpheus are now commencing pilot studies to provide the innovative solutions needed to meet the legislation, reduce operational costs, and ultimately continue to support our client for many years.