Blog Description

Role of IoT in Wastewater Management

Wastewater Management

Water and Waste Management | Feb, 2023

According to a report by United Nations, 80% of wastewater flows back into the river ecosystem without being treated or re-used. Around two million people are already experiencing high water stress due to unavailability of clean water arising from burgeoning global population, rapid urbanization and industrialization, and climate change. In several developing countries have less than 5% of domestic and urban wastewater is treated prior to releasing into the environment. More than half the global population lack basic sanitation facilities. Every year, almost 300,000 children under lose their live due to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.

The role of waste management organizations in water supply chain has had a significant impact on the health of our water ecosystems. Water treatment facilities speed up the natural process of purifying water, send it back to the environment and keep humans and Earth safe and thriving. Hence, effective water management is essential at every point for preventing exposure to the contamination. Leveraging IoT can help the wastewater treatment facilities to achieve better real-time data on wastewater processes, monitor capacity, and reduce spills.

Internet of Things act as a perfect tool for wastewater management systems to automatically optimize processes for varying water contamination and flow, change processes for specific requirement of water and adjust variation in chemical volume and chemistry. In a way, IoT acts as a communication and data gathering system that enable the authorities to get detailed information about the plant’s operation, allowing the authorities to closely monitor different operations in the water treatment plan.

The performance of wastewater treatment plants depends on wastewater quality, management conditions of the treatment plant, and environmental issues. Disposal of wastewater with acceptable quality is one of the biggest environmental problems that our society face today. The microbial and chemical pathogens released from various industries and residential spaces destroy aquatic species and make the water unfit for drinking and domestic needs. In traditional wastewater management plants, only visible solid substances are removed, which is not enough since various pathogens, chemicals, and toxins submerged in wastewater are more dangerous for human health. Hence, wastewater management companies are leveraging different IoT sensors to detect the presence of detrimental ingredients in water using various techniques and remove the toxins from water entirely. Moreover, the IoT network allows authorities to closely monitor different operations in the water treatment plant.

Here are few ways IoT technologies are reshaping management organizations and regulatory bodies.

IoT Sensors

Increasingly stringent discharge standards require removal of pollutants to levels that are environmentally and financially sustainable to minimize energy and resource consumption. Hence, utilities require IoT technologies to help them improve their process efficiency while maintaining or reducing operation and maintenance costs. Sensors help to measure and control the water quality through the entire treatment process in wastewater treatment.

·         The pH sensors measure how acidic or alkaline water is. Controlling the pH levels in water is essential for industries as it reduces contaminants to a level that makes effluent safe for release into the environment. Adding basic and acidic chemicals separates dissolved waste while the treatment is under process.

·         ORP sensors take ORP measurements in water and similar solutions. ORP readings determine how contaminated or sanitized the water is. The ORP reading ranges from 200-600mV when the water is safe to drink.

·         Turbidity sensors measure overall clarity of water by observing how much light scatters when it hits the water surface. Water has high turbidity if the light scatters significantly into the water. Besides, these sensors can also detect how much particulate matter is in the water.

Some advanced sensors can detect any impurities, toxins, or harmful chemicals that can often go undetected. Some of the prime examples of toxic solutes are pathogens, nitrates, synthetic chemicals, phosphates, etc.

Equipment Monitoring

A water treatment facility operates for 24 hours to meet the water requirements. The equipment needs to function at all times to never stop or avoid a breakdown. Hence, regular maintenance of the equipment is quintessential to keep up with the demand. IoT enabled CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) and EAM (equipment asset management) are elevating data gathering capabilities and establishing real-time monitoring in its infrastructure. Leveraging the real-time data through sensors, performance of machines can be monitored, and productivity of equipment can be boosted.

EAM software organizes the physical and fiscal information of enterprise assets, including IT and physical assets, equipment and buildings, fixed assets, etc. Tracking the life cycle of water system, EAM allows staff to prepare for maintenance in the future. An EAM combined with the benefits of IoT software increases productivity, reduce risk of injury for staff, and redundant costs.  

CMMS software comprises of a broad range of tools that enable water and wastewater operators to improve maintenance at many municipal wastewater and water treatment plants. CMMS can also help in scheduling preventive maintenance and calibration activities by day or month, schedule meter readings, set alarm conditions, and more.

Robotics and Drones

Wastewater treatment plants are experimenting using drones to reduce the costs and risks associated with hand-held sensors and detectors. Small drones are being equipped with chemical-sensing payloads for the application in atmospheric chemistry and monitoring of industrial pollution. Drones are also used to check the efficacy of smell abetment systems, detect escapee emissions, forecast, and reduce off-site odour effects as unpleasant odours produce problems for human settlements. This way, drones ensure worker safety by inspecting sectors of wastewater treatment plant’s infrastructure for difficulties such as cracks or other issues.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Many water and wastewater facilities are employing computer and online sensor technologies, which have led to a significant contribution in increasing efficiency of the plant. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the development of real-time data-collection techniques, combining sensor technology and information science. The process of treating wastewater has benefited greatly from the global development of supervisory tools that have been effective for forecasting and prediction in situations where the intended ratio of input and output is established by the external and supervised change in system parameters. However, the collected data is susceptible to being tampered with by hackers. Hence, research is now being performed in blockchain technology to address the cybersecurity issues. The integration of blockchain technology inside IIoT applications and the creation of strong frameworks are the primary focuses of significant research for solving crucial issues related to the Internet of Things.

Way Ahead

In the coming years, robotic recycling will become mainstream, bring with it enhanced accuracy, improved flexibility, and faster market adaptation. The use of robotic systems will increase asset availability and increase treatment capacity. Moreover, automation will replace manual operations with jobs that optimize performance and provide more value. Automation will ease onboarding and reduce the expense and time away from the office required for destination training events.

According to TechSci Research report on “Wastewater Treatment Services Market – Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity and Forecasted, 2018-2028, By Application (Municipal and Industrial (Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Chemical, Pulp & Paper, Petrochemical, Semiconductor, and Others)), By Treatment Technologies (Membrane Separation, Reverse Osmosis Membranes, Ultrafiltration Membranes, Micro-Filtration Membrane, Nano-Filtration Membrane, and Others), By Process (Primary Treatment, Secondary Treatment, Tertiary Treatment), By Region, By Competition”, the global wastewater treatment us expected to register a significant growth during the forecast period. The growth can be attributed to the growing need for cleaning up contaminants from wastewater and converting it into an effluent. Besides, rising focus on sustainability and increasing investment by stakeholders to enable safe disposal and re-use of treated wastewater are anticipated to boost the growth of wastewater treatment services market in the coming years. 

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