Plant power: Hanoi spreads its roots with new wastewater system

Wastewater treatment plants don’t usually conjure up images of white, sandy beaches and beautiful saltwater lakes, but a new development in Vietnam is about to change that.

A new “ocean city” is currently being built in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, and will feature a biological wastewater treatment plant at its heart.

The solution from Organica Water – its first installation in Vietnam – is designed to use natural treatment to help the plant “blend harmoniously” into urban areas.

Vinhomes, a $5-billion (S$6.8 billion)-a-year company, will take delivery of the 38,000m3/day project, as part of a broader cooperation with Organica to provide wastewater treatment across its real estate portfolio.

How the biological treatment works
Clocking up 110 reference facilities in 16 countries, Organica Water has been in operation for 20 years.

The company’s solution is based on providing an alternative to traditional wastewater treatment plants, which it describes as “large, centralised, smelly facilities” that can “only be built far outside of population centres”.

By using a natural system, the concept involves treating and recycling wastewater much closer to the source.

Called a Food Chain Reactor (FCR), the Fixed-Film Activated Sludge system uses natural, plant roots as well as engineered media inspired by root structures. This encourages the growth of biomass that consumes the load in the effluent.

According to the company, an FCR can be designed without using suspended biomass (MLSS), which ensures that the solids exiting the reactors can be directly fed to a specially designed disc filtration system. This eliminates the need for secondary phase separation.

Vietnam’s need for wastewater treatment
With a growing population of 95 million, the Vietnamese government has invested to develop urban wastewater regulations to unlock investment into wastewater treatment systems.

However, wastewater treatment continues to remain a challenge across the Vietnam. Although 60 per cent of the population is connected to main sewers, only 10 per cent of wastewater is treated.

There is the ongoing challenge of keeping pace with increasing pollution as a result of rapid urbanisation, particularly in large cities.