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Tesla – UniFED™ – An innovative and cost effective wastewater treatment system

Australia has a long and proven track record with innovative process design of wastewater treatment plants for municipal and small industrial usage. Novel process operation and strict regulatory controls have meant that public utilities and infrastructure designers must strive for more cost effective and process efficient plants. A vast country with small, but innovative population and the remoteness of towns and cities, has meant that environmental technologies have usually been developed in-country and with specific local adaptations.

An Australian technology called UniFED™ (with a world-wide patent) has recently been developed to provide regional towns and villages with a higher level of effluent controls (by removing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus) before the effluent is discharged to the lakes and river systems.

The competitive advantages of UniFED™ include use of a single tank for biological N and P removal and achieving a high quality effluent without chemical dosing. UniFED™ is also able to offer reduced capital costs (around 20% less land-use and design/equipment costs) and less operating costs than conventional systems. UniFED™ can be applied to a green-field site or retrofitted to existing wastewater treatment plants.

The UniFED™ process technology has many design advantages over conventional systems, including a single tank without recycle streams, simple footprint (land-size) and robust design and operation and enhanced nitrification/denitrification. UniFED™ plants can also be constructed in stages to suit a city’s development and its regulatory programmes.

The UniFED ™ technology process was developed from original work by the New South Wales Department of Public Works and Services (DPWS) and its regional wastewater treatment plant design/operation programmes of the early 1970s.

The initial Research and Development (R&D) project objectives were to:

  • optimise existing wastewater treatment processes to improve effluent quality
  • develop low cost retrofits with minimal structural and equipment changes
  • develop a robust and reliable cost effective process for Biological Nutrients Removal (BNR)

This R&D and field adaptation work, which was carried out under the wastewater process intensification programme, has resulted in high effluent quality. This concept is now used for UniFED™ derived plants in municipal and industrial usages including textiles, hotels, office buildings, hospitals and food/beverage sectors. The other areas are refineries, chemical production and minerals processing.

Alternative low-cost, in-situ construction methods allow for the UniFED™ single tank configuration to have sloped walls (less concrete needed) or even walls of a geotechnic fabric in the form of earthen lagoons (the Quaker’s Hill STP in Sydney has 2xIDAL lagoons and was a retrofit to an activated sludge process system). Other alternatives include steel framed and lined tanks which are already in place (refer to the Manila example above) and transportable UniFED™ units which can be factory fabricated for hotel/institutions usage, with almost immediate installation and commissioning at the client’s facility.

Ongoing research/field adaptation of the UniFED™ is allowing for better process control and optimisation. Development of the overall system’s influent distribution and updated process control systems will allow for remote site monitoring and online operations of newer UniFED™ plants.

UniFED™ is now marketed worldwide by Waste Technologies of Australia Pty Ltd (WTA), which is providing the commercialisation programme for the environmental technologies developed under an Australian National Cooperative Research Centre programme, by the CRC Waste Management and Pollution Control Limited (CRC WMPC). Tesla Liquid Engineering has exclusive rights for IDEA UniFED Systems for India.

Manoj M. Hindocha
Tesla Liquid Engineering Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai

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