Friday, 12 May 2017

Water Quality Analyses for Effluent Treatment Plant Design and Troubleshooting

I've just submitted a final report on one of the industrial effluent treatment plant jobs I have on the books, and I am awaiting lab results for the second.

I've been making progress with my new book on water and effluent treatment plant in the meanwhile, and I was in at Manchester teaching water treatment earlier in the week.

I was also elected to the ruling council of the Institution of Chemical Engineers this week, which will  add a little to the workload. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

I Love Real Engineering

Picture of Water Engineering Expert going "Noooooooooooooooooooh"

I like teaching and writing books, but I really love solving practical problems for people. I've just got  a new order to negotiate with the Environment Agency, and design a replacement plant to match a revised consent to discharge for a plant treating laboratory chemical waste.

Once again, I have been preceded by cheaper, less expert "engineers" and consultants. As my father in law says, "you buy cheap you buy twice". In cases like this, it is however rarely twice. I'm probably on average the fourth person to look at a problem.

A guideline: "Cheap", "local", and "family-run" are not in my experience recommendations for companies operating in this area.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Chemical Wastewater Troubleshooting Expert

I wrote an article on wastewater treatment plant troubleshooting for Chemical Engineering Progress magazine in the US last week, and had a opportunity to practice my skills in the area for real yesterday.

As I wrote in the article, I was far from the first person to visit the site, though I will be the last, as I will actually solve the problem. I can see why people are loath to employ a professional engineer in these cases. Chemical engineers are not cheap, especially not compared with the tanker drivers, farmers, tradesmen and miscellaneous others who are more than willing to have a crack at solving effluent treatment plant problems.

Even when the plant is treating straight domestic sewage, their lack of a systematic and analytical approach makes using non-professionals for troubleshooting a false economy. When the effluent is a complex and variable mixture of sewage and chemical wastes, amateurs should tell the client to call on a professional. If only they would, but it is only professionals are obliged to to work outside their area of competence.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Industrial Effluent Treatment Troubleshooting

We just signed a contract for a new troubleshooting job, for treatment of a complex and highly variable chemical effluent. I'm be going out to have a look at it soon.

I'm continuing to gather and analyse data on the other troubleshooting job I have on the books. I think the picture is firming up there, though I don't think it is going to get to the point where it is absolutely certain what is going on, I think it is already clear enough to act with sufficient confidence in the results. 

I'm looking forward to teaching wastewater treatment plant design at Manchester University next week, and making some more progress with my water treatment plant book. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Troubleshooting Wastewater Treatment Plant

I'm writing an article at the moment on troubleshooting wastewater treatment plant. I'm also doing a fair amount of the real thing at the moment. I'm gathering and analysing data on one of the underloaded plants I have been looking at for some time, and I have a new enquiry in for a new underperforming plant.

I'm on my second pass through my new book on water and wastewater treatment plant design, informed by my years of troubleshooting badly specified, designed, operated or maintained sewage and effluent treatment plant.

I don't have a lot of expert witness work in at present, but I'd rather be an engineer with a side-line in expert witness work than the other way round. In my last court appearance, "the other side's barrister" questioned my experience as an expert witness, and I pointed out that I was an expert engineer, rather than an expert in being an expert as so many in my field are.  

I am fully trained in all aspects of expert witness work, and I do a few cases a year, but mostly, I am a practising engineer, who only acts as an expert in cases to do with my professional practice. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Water Treatment Plant Process Design Expert

I've mainly been working on my new book this week, "An Applied Guide to Water And Effluent Treatment Plant Design". The other two (An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design" and "Process Plant Layout" are still selling well.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Data Analysis,Troubleshooting and Reporting

I submitted my report on the problems with a commercial sewage treatment plant last Friday. An analysis of the limited sampling data gathered so far was inconclusive, though I would not be surprised if there turned out to be a relationship between BOD, Suspended Solids and Turbidity. There usually is.   

Friday, 24 March 2017

Troubleshooting Effluent Treatment: Septic Tanks

I've had another mixed week, teaching water engineering at Manchester University on Monday, then a day on site on Tuesday taking measurements of some big old septic tanks to try and work out the required desludging intervals. I've been seeing If I can make any sense of that data today.

It is an interesting site, which has increased over time to a far higher peak loading than the plant was originally designed to take, successively overlaid official and unofficial modifications, and operating and maintenance procedures passed down from operator to operator for many decades. The end result of this is that I have to work out what we have, and guess at why long-dead operators modified and operated as they did before I can figure out what was a bad idea in the first place, what has become obsolete, and what needs to be left well alone. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

More Troubleshooting Effluent Treatment Plant: Storm Water Handling: Planning Issues: Listed Monument

I have been preparing for the recommissioning of a misbehaving submerged aerated filter (SAF) plant this week. I'm just back from site, where a few tweaks were applied to the stormwater handling side of things.

Before changing anything, it is important to accurately measure what you have and I am making sure I have accurate data on flows and loads to the plant, as well as its performance in removing BOD, suspended solids and ammonia across the range of conditions it sees.

The plant is unusual for a private one in having a consent to discharge storm water by overflow from the storm tanks above a certain incoming flowrate. Today's tweaks were intended to ensure compliance with both the normal and storm discharge consents at high flows to the plant.

I have also spoken to the Environment  Agency about my plans for further changes to futureproof the plant, and have obtained agreement in principle for the recommissioning.

As the site is all Grade II listed, I will be accompanied on next week's visit by a specialist architect, to assist with producing pre-planning documentation.  

Friday, 24 February 2017

Troubleshooting Effluent Treatment Plant

I've been busy this week recovering from jetlag after last week's trip to Pakistan and planning a troubleshooting exercise at a misbehaving commercial effluent treatment plant.

I have quite a few contracts on the go  at the moment, but the others are luckily quiet enough that I have been able to give much of my attention to figuring out what we need to do to make sense of the data in hand, and what we can do once we understand what has been happening to improve matters.

I have a plan and method statements for all that, and the lab booked starting next week to analyse new samples, so I will soon be in a positon to start to tweak the plant (or more accurately in this case, watch others tweak it).

Things may get slightly worse before they get better, so I'm going to get the EA to buy into the plan before carrying it out. The client has authorised me to talk to the EA on their behalf, so next week will be busy with that.

I'm also doing a day's teaching at Chester (on Plant Layout), and looking at getting out the first rough draft of my new book.  

Sunday, 19 February 2017

An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design Training Course

Posters and Entrance from An Applied Guide to Process And Plant Design Training Course PIEAS Pakistan

I got back from Pakistan yesterday, where I had been delivering the materials I'm using for the three-day course based on my book "An Applied Guide to Process and Plant Design" which I will be giving in Manchester at the end of March.

I'd never been to Pakistan before, which added to eth interest, but the best thing was the enthusiasm of the delegates, mostly engineers with five to ten years of postgraduate experience. I hope I have such keen delegates in March!

The rest of the month will mostly be taken up with design work to do with an underperforming commercial effluent treatment plant, and one day a week of undergrad teaching at either Manchester or Chester.  

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Hydraulic Design of Industrial Effluent Treatment Plants

A mixed bag this week, with a visit to a top-tier COMAH site to consult on hydraulic problems they have been having with their effluent treatment plant, and some time later in the week reviewing flow and layout data and devising solutions.

I also got my complimentary copies of my plant layout book. Hadn't really grasped how big it was until I held a copy. Even in softback, 756 pages at 21 x 27.3 cm weighs more than 2kg. Get your own copy here

I also threw my hat into the ring for a place on the secretive council which runs the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

I'm just getting ready now for next week's delivery of the materials I will be using for my process plant design course at the end of March.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Hydraulic Design in Water and Effluent Treatment

Hopefully picked up a bit of real design work today, doing hydraulic design for modifications to a sewage treatment plant.

It'll make a nice break from writing the water and effluent treatment plant design book before I go overseas for a week to deliver the materials I am using for my IChemE accredited process plant design course. I've got about 45 delegates for that at present, which makes a nice number for the group work exercises.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Process Plant Design Training

We enrolled the first few people on our process plant design course this week(brochure here).

Other than that, I've been busy with my new book, and arranging next year's teaching at Manchester and Chester.

The new year has got off to a slow start with respect to real engineering, but that suits me, as I had a massive backlog of company, university and IChemE paperwork to get through, as well as a book to write.

It would be convenient if I can get past the UK and overseas teaching and training I've got booked in before my engineering clients come back for more, but I'll manage.

It's good to have two thirds of the new book down with almost a year to go to my submission deadline, and all of that admin out of the way. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Process Plant Design Training

Just booked the venue for the first UK delivery of my IChemE accredited Process Plant Design course , followed by two day masterclasses in water and pharma design from me and Eur Ing Keith Plumb respectively. It's at the Hilton Manchester Airport, 27th-31st March. £1750 ex VAT per head for all five days. Contact to book a place

Friday, 13 January 2017

Water and Effluent Treatment Expertise

I've been making good progress on the new book (on water and effluent treatment plant design) this week, and concluding arrangements with the University of Manchester for some lecturing on water engineering.

I'm due in at Chester soon to teach their final year students about plant layout, so preparing for that as well as for the first couple of deliveries of my IChemE accredited course on process plant design, one UK and one overseas.

Three expert witness and troubleshooting jobs, (all to do with effluent treatment) are still ongoing. It's a nice steady start to the year.      

Friday, 6 January 2017

Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design Expert says Happy New Year!

I have spent the week like many people arranging the next few months. I've got live contracts for expert witness and troubleshooting work, but it is the teaching and training jobs which have been booking me first. A couple of process design training courses overseas, and a couple at home ( one process design, one water and effluent treatment plant design) have booked a day or two a week until Easter between them.  

Not much else happening this week, so I've taken the opportunity to make some progress with the new book, "An Applied Guide to Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design". I'm at 63,000 words, (more than halfway through the agreed word-count) into the rough draft, but there is a lot of polishing to do once I have made the required word-count, and in any case the difficulty with this book (on my specialist area of design) will be fitting in all in.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Winding Down

I've had an easy time in this last full week of work for 2016, catching up on all of those little jobs. Finished my paper on plant layout for the IET's "Engineering & Technology Reference" journal.

Did some publicity for my plant layout book, and arranged some teaching at Chester and Manchester, as well as a short overseas course early in the New Year.

I'm doing a couple of days next week, then it's the Xmas break. If I get bored, I can always do a bit on the new book.

I've got a few ongoing contracts (a mix of troubleshooting and expert witness work), so I'm sure it will all take off again in January. For now, I'm making the best of the lull.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Troubleshooting and Expert Witnessing: Small Sewage Treatment Plants

I've sent out two new reports this week, both on problems with small sewage treatment plants. One was to do with an odour issue, and one a performance issue.

It's good to keep current with practical engineering in the form of troubleshooting, and the design and pricing of needed modifications. As ever, some of them cost more than you would have expected before all factors are considered. Thankfully, they still cost less than the client's budget.

I've also been arranging an overseas trip for course delivery early in the New Year, and firming up plans for delivery of our IChemE approved course early in 2017.

Next week will be our last week of work this year. At least, that's the plan.....

Friday, 2 December 2016

Expert Witness Engineer Package Sewage Treatment Plant Odour Problems

I picked up a new expert witness job this week, to do with odour complaints associated with a package sewage treatment plant in a housing development. I have done a fair number of these as troubleshooting jobs in the past, but this is my first as an expert witness.

Odour is a tricky business. There is possibly nothing more subjective than odour, or more subject to variability between subjects, and there is no getting around the fact that sewage is smelly, even when fresh. There are also psychological effects which can make even very low level of odour seem intolerable. Robust sampling and measurement of odorous air is expensive and time consuming. What constitutes a nuisance is therefore hard to pin down.

I tend not to bother too much with the psychology. As an engineer, I am interested in whether there are any problems with the specification, design, installation, operation or maintenance of the plant which would be expected to produce abnormal types or levels of odour.

I have also been designing and pricing debottlenecking modifications to a commercial effluent treatment plant this week, and bidding for a couple of interesting overseas contracts.

My plant layout book is now available in the UK at least via Amazon and Elsevier sites.