What new technologies have you been evaluating or implementing?
VCS Denmark achieved utility-wide energy neutrality in 2019. The most crucial factor in this remarkable result is the production of energy at our largest water resource recovery facility (WRRF) – that covers not only the consumption of energy at the plant itself but also that of our drinking water production.
Having reached this important milestone, VCS Denmark is currently looking at new areas where we can improve the sustainability of our processes. The overall aim is now focused on the reduction of emissions from our systems, both the sewer system and treatment processes. We are currently involved in projects related to the overall N2O emission and seeking funding for further investigations for mitigating N2O emissions. A further area of interest is the potential emission of methane from our sewer and treatment system.
What technologies are you interested in investigating?
For VCS Denmark it is important to be at the forefront of development and research in our sector. More specifically we are focusing on:
Pyrolysis: Turning our biosolids into a value product is high on our agenda. We are looking at the possibility of implementing pyrolysis at one of our smaller treatment plants, mainly to get operational experience and to gain an understanding of the possible market value of the product. The technology will focus on being energy neutral or energy positive.
Vivianite: Many attempts have been made to make the production of struvite into a commercial success, not always with a lot of luck. Our aim is now to look at other possible materials. We are currently looking into the production and harvesting of Vivianite and the potentials for its commercial use.
What are your facility drivers/needs?
For many years we have been improving our energy profile. We still optimize and are trying to further improve – but with the achievement of utility-wide energy neutrality, it is time to strive for new ambitions. This has been formulated in our company strategy that sets the agenda for many years to come. We are now focusing more on our overall footprint. Particularly our biggest adverse impacts, which are now processed emissions in the form of N2O and methane.
How has LIFT helped, or how would you like LIFT to help your facility?
As a utility, we are always engaged in many developments or research projects – alone or together with national and international stakeholders. LIFT is a great inspiration for this work. International insight supplied by WRF and LIFT enables us to keep up with the newest developments and ideas and engage in a network that is important for the further development of technologies for all.
LIFT allows us to exchange information and connect with peers around the globe. Visits from colleagues, exchanging experience, and networking – these are all valuable ways of distributing knowledge of technologies and best practices to make sure the sector improves continuously.
For VCS Denmark, the ambition is to act as sustainable as we can – and reutilize the resource that wastewater really is. Other companies might be focused on the potential savings connected to optimizing processes. But whatever our goal, identification, and information on innovative technologies keep us on the path to results. A concrete example from Denmark is the sharing of pilot information and goals related to Membrane Aerated Biofilm (MABR), where we are running a full-scale test of two types of equipment.
If there were one technology you would pilot or collaborate on tomorrow, what would it be?
VCS Denmark is committed to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has selected five of the 17 goals that are of great relevance to us to work with.
One of these goals is number 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. For VCS Denmark, technologies to align with this goal is on our wish list. We would like to be able to use the resources in wastewater in a more intelligent way with higher value creation. We see huge potential here. Imagine, for example, being able to produce proteins that can somehow be a part of feeding stuff for animals. We are already working in this field and would be very happy to pilot technologies that can play a direct role in such a production.
Generally, utilities around the world can play a major role in implementing the SDGs. We see such efforts as our common responsibility within the industry – and one that requires exactly the sharing of knowledge, goals, and ideas, the LIFT facilitate.