Increasing interest in an advanced sludge drying system known as the THERMO-SYSTEM® Active Solar Sludge Dryer recently evolved into a multi-country journey for a noted group of engineering leaders and industry experts.
Under the leadership of Parkson specialists, the group was able to tour both the largest THERMO-SYSTEM installation in the world as well as the THERMO-SYSTEM engineering center in Germany.
The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the THERMO-SYSTEM technology and see it in operation at various sized installations. The first stop on the journey was Palma de Mallorca, on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, which is just off the coast of Spain. Palma, due to its high level of tourism, has a population equivalency of approximately 500,000 residents and is home to the world’s largest solar sludge dryer which happens to be a THERMO-SYSTEM Active Solar Sludge Dryer.
In Palma, the group experienced the full capabilities of the THERMO-SYSTEM, including the innovative use of a unique and fully automatic robotic machine known as the Electric Mole®. The Electric Mole greatly optimizes the efficiency of the solar drying process by completely mixing and aerating the sludge inside the drying chamber at different intervals depending on the dry solids concentration of the sludge. The system is able to achieve over 80% dry solids and the elimination of virtually all pathogens using solar energy from the sun to provide nearly all the energy needed for drying.
From Palma, the group traveled to Stuttgart, Germany for in depth technical training on the operation and wide ranging capabilities of the system. From an operations perspective, the group was trained on how the control system utilizes a complex and proprietary software program to automatically control all aspects of drying and therefore requires very little operator input or attention. The group also used the time to learn about the wide range of capabilities of the system by reviewing case studies on many of the 100+ installations throughout Europe.
Included in the group were engineers from some of North America’s top consulting engineering firms as well as representatives from the petroleum and cement industries. Some of these engineers and industry leaders are already specifying the THERMO-SYSTEM technology, while others were interested in expanding their understanding of the technology’s possibilities. The representatives from the water and wastewater community were impressed with the high level of sustainability that this technology can bring to their projects. The cement industry representatives are evaluating the potential to economically turn wastewater sludge into a fuel for their cement kilns.
THERMO-SYSTEM technology has been used in water and wastewater treatment plants ranging in size from 0.2 MGD to 40 MGD. The system’s sustainable; CO2-neutral drying process is highly automated and requires minimal operator attention and control. The end product is odorless, biologically stable and virtually pathogen free which maximizes disposal options.
“In our focus on the process needs of the world’s water and wastewater treatment facilities, we consider it our duty to expose industry leaders to the technologies that we at Parkson can provide to increase sustainability, reduce energy costs and improve the world’s environment in general,” explained Mike Miller, Vice President of the North American Municipal Business Unit of Parkson Corporation. “That is why we have brought the THERMO-SYSTEM technology to America and why we have taken many of America’s engineering leaders and industry experts half-way around the world to explore the possibilities of making major improvements in sludge drying.”