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  Resource Efficiency and Production Technology and Treatment

This project investigated how to use new treatment trains to optimise wastewater treatment systems to achieve cost-effective, fit-for-purpose water, whilst minimising energy and chemical footprints. The current approach of ‘adding-on’ energy intensive water recycling technologies to existing wastewater treatment plants rarely results in reduced needs or savings because the existing treatment processes are not optimised in conjunction with the water recycling processes, even though water quality requirements at different stages may have changed due to the additional process steps. A pilot plant  demonstrated the integrated process, and quantified the economic and environmental footprint of these new approaches, compared to current technologies for wastewater treatment and water recycling and identified opportunities to improve  overall operations by achieving higher water recycling rates at lower cost and reduced carbon footprints.


The Optimal Technology Integration for Treatment Systems project investigated ways of optimising and adapting water recycling technology for use in Australia’s unique circumstances. The project also identified potential for savings in capital expenditure. Located at the Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) Innovation Centre at Luggage Point in Brisbane, the project team, led by The University of Queensland Advanced Water Management Centre, successfully demonstrated two novel carbon recovery processes, an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) process and the High Rate Activated Sludge (HRAS) process, which can recover up to 80% of carbon from wastewater as bioenergy in the form of biogas.Conventional nitrogen removal processes require a significant carbon supply, therefore limiting the bioenergy recovery potential creating a need for new processes for nitrogen reduction. In this project two different nitrogen removal concepts (side-stream and main-stream anammox processes) were demonstrated at pilot scale and found to remove the majority of nitrogen, without the need for carbon input, therefore maximising bioenergy recovery.


Following the pilot plant findings, two project partners, Melbourne Water and QUU, will start up their own pilot and full scale anammox processes and four water utilities from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide will  collaborate with UQ over the next four years to further develop and optimise the HRAS and the mainstream anammox process. The study of the AnMBR process at Luggage Point will also be continued, with a new three-year project, to be supported by QUU and Queensland government through the Advance Queensland Research Fellowship scheme. Project outcomes  enabled the water industry to progress towards the adoption of these technologies, which have the potential to save millions of dollars in water treatment costs every year.


Equipment being delivered to Luggage Point Installed and ready for commissioning

Photos courtesy Queensland Urban Utilities



Lead organisation: The University of Queensland – Advanced Water Management Centre
Partner organisations: GHD
Melbourne Water
Wide Bay Water Corporation
Queensland Urban Utilities

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