Global recognition for Singapore’s advanced wastewater treatment technologies

Singapore PUB’s (Public Utilities Board) continuous research and development, and innovation efforts to improve the efficiency of its water treatment process and operations has earned itself a feather in its cap. Its wastewater treatment demonstration plant at Ulu Pandan, set up specially to test advanced used water treatment processes before full deployment in future, has captured the global attention and won the Water/Wastewater Project of the Year Award at the 2018 Global Water Awards in Paris, France. This International Award recognises the most important achievements in the global water industry and acknowledges innovative technological advancements.

As Singapore reclaims, recycles and re-treats used water, PUB constantly seeks ways to maximise water efficiency and lower energy use in the whole process.

The Ulu Pandan wastewater treatment demonstration plant, which started operating in 2017, was jointly developed by PUB and the Black & Veatch + AECOM Joint Venture. The demonstration plant enables PUB to test and validate advanced wastewater treatment technologies, allowing it to mitigate any operating risks before incorporating the technologies at a larger scale, at the future Tuas WRP. The Tuas WRP is constructed as part of the Phase 2 Deep Tunnel Sewage System (DTSS) that will meet Singapore’s used water collection, treatment and disposal needs. When completed in 2025, Tuas WRP will be the largest membrane bioreactor (MBR) facility in the world, with a 30 per cent more compact footprint compared to conventional plants.

Ulu Pandan Wastewater Treatment Demonstration Plant

The Ulu Pandan wastewater demonstration plant features a novel combination of treatment processes which include space-efficient inclined lamella1 primary settling tanks and a membrane bioreactor (MBR)2 system. These features shorten the process of wastewater treatment while also reducing energy usage and maximising biogas production (which can generate energy) as well as help reduce plant footprint. At the same time, the Ulu Pandan wastewater treatment demonstration plant also incorporates automation control to reduce manpower requirements. This 12,500m3/day (2.75 million imperial gallons per day) facility is currently housed at PUB’s Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant.

These tested technologies will enable the future Tuas WRP to be more energy efficient – doubling the energy recovery while consuming lesser energy compared to conventional plants.

“R&D is the key driver to Singapore achieving a robust management system across the entire water loop and PUB continues to innovate to increase the efficiency of water and wastewater treatment. The Ulu Pandan wastewater treatment demonstration plant has allowed us to validate and set new standards for wastewater treatment while fulfilling our need to bring down energy use, keep things compact in land-scarce Singapore and reduce reliance on manpower. The success of this demonstration plant will ensure that the future Tuas WRP and its integrated NEWater factory can contribute sustainably towards the goal of increasing Singapore’s overall water recycling rate,” said Harry Seah, assistant chief executive (Future Systems and technology), PUB.

The Black & Veatch + AECOM Joint Venture serves as the program manager for Singapore’s Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Phase 2 project and the consultant for the Ulu Pandan wastewater demonstration plant.

“Singapore continues to be at the leading edge of innovation in the water industry. This award recognises the results of harnessing advances in digital water technology together with the latest advanced water treatment processes to realize operational, economic and environmental sustainability goals at the Ulu Pandan wastewater demonstration plant,” said Cindy Wallis-Lage, president of Black & Veatch’s Water Business.

“The BV-AECOM joint venture is proud to partner with PUB to continually set global standards in integrated water management that ensures sustainable high quality water for Singaporeans. This award is a milestone in our partnership with PUB, and we look forward to contribute further to new advances in Singapore’s water management efforts,” said Billy Wong, regional executive for Southeast Asia at AECOM.

 

1 Used in the initial stages of wastewater treatment, primary settling tanks separate the solids from liquid wastewater by allowing solids to settle to the bottom of these tanks. The settled solids, also known as sludge, will be removed for biogas generation while the liquid wastewater is then sent for secondary treatment. Lamella primary settling tanks uses inclined plates which increases the maximum efficient surface area for solids to settle on with the same tank space.

2 MBR technology is used in the treatment of wastewater. A bioreactor houses naturally-occurring bacteria which break down waste products in wastewater, after which microfiltration/ ultrafiltration membranes – with fine pores invisible to the eye – filter the remaining impurities. MBR is a more efficient method as it optimises the wastewater treatment process, enabling wastewater to be treated using less steps and less space compared to conventional systems, and produces a higher quality treated effluent. The treated water is then used as feedwater for NEWater production or supplied to industries.