Understanding the Concept of IoT in Wastewater Treatment and Management

IoT In Water

Water is the most essential resource. Its use is prevalent for not only general and commercial purposes but also for industrial applications. However, even less than 2% of the water available on the earth’s surface is consumable. Hence, it is becoming mandatory to start incorporating treated water as an alternative to suffice the global water demands.

Industries continuously use freshwater as a coolant and solvent to enrich the quality of their products. Exposing this used water directly to the environment can intoxicate it severely. Industries are therefore required to establish a wastewater treatment facility on their grounds to make sure that discharge regulations and safety parameters are met.

By setting up a water treatment plant in its facility, a company prevents environmental harm and damage to human health. The wastewater generated from different houses can also be treated through locality based water treatment plants and can be used for various general purposes like irrigation. Moreover, this treated water can be reused by industries for various processes.

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What is a wastewater treatment system?

A wastewater treatment system removes contaminants from used water. It removes toxic and harmful waste from the water before it is returned to a water body. This reduces the chances of water pollution and ensures minimal environmental impact caused due to harmful waste. This water can also be reused for general and industrial purposes.

Water treatment is a complex technique as it accommodates different technologies and processes. Hence, a wastewater management system generally requires a lot of maintenance and upgrades for continuous efficient applications. They also experience fluctuations in terms of facing the water with different chemical compositions. Some other challenges that a water treatment system face are:

• Inability to automatically optimize processes for varying water contamination and flow.

• Changing processes for specific requirement of water

• Variation in chemical volume adjustments and water chemistry needs

Internet of Things platform acts as a perfect tool for wastewater management systems to face these challenges. In its basic form, IoT acts as a communication and data gathering system, enabling the authorities to have detailed information about the plant’s operation. However, as an advanced tool, IoT offers great benefits in terms of automation and analytics.

Contribution of IoT in wastewater management?

Internet of Things forms a network of physical objects by using various sensors as endpoints, enabling distant monitoring on a large scale. In a wastewater management system, this network allows the concerned authorities to closely monitor different operations in the water treatment plant.

A network of various sensors enables monitoring of different parameters of water like temperature, pressure, chemical composition, TDS, etc. This data can be used by automation and analytics infused centralized platform to synthesize the data into actionable insights. Smart water flow meters can also be used to measure the flow rate of water in the whole treatment facility.

Implementation of IoT in the water treatment and management systems allow authorities to track the composition of water and establish EAM CMMS systems. Both of these systems along with IoT allow the accumulation of performance and operation related data of the whole treatment plant. This data can be used by the authorities to make informed decisions while optimizing the overall operations of the plant.

IoT in wastewater management can also be used to calculate residual chemicals after the treatment. This data can be further used to calculate the efficiency of the treatment process and ensure that water quality standards are met before it is discharged in a water body.

Benefits of IoT in wastewater management:

1) Harmful chemicals detection:

Removing visible solid substances from water is not enough. Various pathogens, chemicals, and toxins are either dissolved or submerged in wastewater that is even more dangerous than their tangible counterparts. Some of these harmful solutes include:

• Pathogens

• Metals

• Synthetic Chemicals

• Nitrates

• Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)

• Phosphates

• Pathogens

• Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)

• Total Submerged Solids (TSS)

Different IoT sensors can be used by treatment facilities to detect the presence of these detrimental ingredients in the water. By subsequently using various techniques, these toxins can be removed from the wastewater entirely.

2) Analytics to choose specific treatment process:

Specific constituents require particular treatment processes to be removed. The advanced analytics feature of an IoT solution can recommend a series of apt processes based on the concentration of water.

This lets the treatment plant use minimum processes to remove excess amounts of contaminants from the wastewater. Processes in the treatment plants are optimized and operation costs are reduced. Some of the processes that water treatment plants generally incorporate are:

• Sedimentation

• Flocculation

• Disinfection

• Coagulation

• Lime softening

• Filtration

• Ion exchanging

These processes can also be optimized to prepare water for specific applications in industries for coolant or solvent.

3) Equipment Monitoring:

A water treatment facility is required to operate for 24*7 in order to regularly meet the water demands. To make sure that the flow of water never stops and avoid a sudden breakdown, equipment and machines in the treatment plant must be properly maintained.

IoT enables data ingestion for EAM (equipment asset management) and CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) in the water treatment plant. This elevates data gathering capabilities and establishes real-time monitoring in its infrastructure. By using real-time data gathered through different embedded sensors, performance characteristics of machines can be monitored that further increase the productivity of equipment and boost maintenance tasks.

On a Concluding Note:

As freshwater is at the brink of extinction, it is now high time to empower water treatment and management systems. However, water treatment facilities are expensive to install and maintain. The implementation of Internet of Things in the system reduces the operating costs of these facilities which will boost their establishment in even distant areas.

These treatment centers are the new lifeline for different industrial and general-purpose usage. They are reducing environmental pollution and will definitely help us fight water scarcity in the future.