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The Most Common Types of Wastewater Treatment Systems

 In Industrial

Naturally, wastewater cannot be used by consumers — hence the term “waste” water.

Wastewater is defined as any kind of used water affected by commercial, domestic or industrial processes. Wastewater is used water that goes through drains in your home, schools, or manufacturing facilities. Used water can consist of bacteria, human waste, pollutants, and other hazardous materials.

So, what happens when wastewater isn’t decontaminated? Whether it’s safe or not, wastewater flows through pipes and drains into rivers, lakes, and waterways. Places where your child swims or where your sink water comes from can potentially be contaminated.  

Decontaminating water is required to make water safe enough to drink, touch, and be around.

There are many different types of water treatment facilities that all come with an assortment of pros and cons.

Here, we will cover the most common types of wastewater treatment systems.


Effluent Treatment System

Effluent means liquid waste or sewage that is discharged into a river or the sea.

Effluent wastewater treatment systems are commonly used by refineries, chemical plants, and bulk storage terminals, as well as general manufacturing facilities to remove toxic and non-toxic chemicals from wastewater.

Effluent wastewater treatment systems remove debris, solids, chemical pollutants, and other organic and inorganic materials from the treatment system discharge.


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This type of treatment system requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep, in order to operate efficiently and meet required discharge requirements.

Over time, effluent treatment systems will build up sludge. When sludge builds up, the treatment systems can’t operate as designed.  Typically,  shutdowns for maintenance and cleaning are scheduled so as not to interfere with plant operations.

While sludge removal traditionally included human crews entering tanks, there are now more advanced ways of sludge removal that utilize robotic cleaning, eliminating confined space entry.


Sewage Treatment Systems

Sewage treatment systems are used for cleaning water used within households. This process uses chemical, physical, and biological methods to clean the water.

During sewage treatment processes, the wastewater is filtered to remove any large objects from the water. It then goes through a grit chamber and passes through the first clarifier. Water then goes through an aeration chamber before reaching the second clarifier. The final stage is when the water is disinfected.

Sewage treatment systems purify water so that it can be recycled or discharged. Water that undergoes sewage treatment can, in some cases, be safe to consume. 

There are two clarifiers in sewage treatment systems that send the built-up sludge from the process to a sludge storage location for it to be properly disposed of. 


Activated Sludge System sludge removal

Activated sludge systems are cleaning systems similar to the sewage treatment system.

The main difference between the two is that sewage treatment systems use activated sludge in the secondary treatment process instead of primary treatment. The activated sludge process breaks down pollutants in the water, creating a soupy sewage mixture. 

An activated sludge system produces less offensive odors and produces less sludge which means less tank cleaning. However, it is still important to make sure you don’t let the sludge build up too much over time. 


The Importance of Sludge Removal

Sludge buildup can negatively impact the tank cleaning process, lead to equipment failure, and have high costs on repair and plant shutdowns, so it’s crucial to have your process and storage tanks cleaned regularly.

It’s also important to stay on top of your settling tank sludge removal to stay within regulations and avoid corrective actions or fines from improper decontamination. When this sludge isn’t removed from the sludge zone, the system is at risk of failing and not effectively treating the water flowing through the system.


Robotic Tank Cleaning Is a Proven Tactic That Works

Robotic tank cleaning is one of the most innovative methods for removing sludge for wastewater treatment facilities.

Utilizing robotic technology for tank cleaning allows you to quickly and safely remove bulk sludge from your clarifier tanks, trenches, and lagoons. Tank cleaning robots are operated from a safe, remote location to remove hazardous risks to human crews. These robots can also run continuously without breaks, meaningless plant downtime, which keeps revenue coming in.

Ecorobotics has successfully helped many industries and plants lower their costs and environmental impact with their robotic tank cleaning and sludge removal. See how Ecorobotics can help your company by viewing our case studies.

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