Curing Chronic Clogging

Aug. 8, 2018
Heathrow Airport installs new pumping technology to deal with troublesome waste materials

London’s Heathrow Airport is one of Europe’s busiest airports, hosting more than 200,000 passengers with an average of 1,200 flights arriving at and departing from the airport daily. Heathrow Airport Water Services Department has an extensive network of 120 pumping stations to manage and has been a Xylem customer for 25 years.

Heathrow Airport Water Services Department agreed to install and trial Xylem’s new Flygt wastewater pumping system in an effort to solve chronic clogging issues at one of the airport’s wastewater pumping stations. In addition to delivering consistently clog-free pumping, Flygt Concertor reduced energy consumption by 53% at the pumping station.

The Challenge

The central Area Sanitation Unit adjacent to Terminal 1 is a receiving station for aircraft toilet waste, which contains a high level of non-biological solids, including various plastic material, wipes, diapers and clothing. This stringy material can be difficult to pump since it can easily get caught on the impeller and partially block the pump, leading to increased energy consumption and, in the worst case, a full blockage of the pump.

This challenging wastewater application led to regular clogging, and the sump required significant operational activity to try to keep it clean.

“We would usually have to deal with two or three clogging issues during a three-month period,” said Ian Jolly, systems specialist for water, Heathrow Airport Water Services Department. “We also used to see a shelf of fat and material deposits build up on the walls of the sump, as well as floating debris. This presented a very tough challenge to our existing wastewater pumps, which we frequently had to de-clog.”

The Solution

Heathrow Airport required a solution that would solve the operational costs and environmental problems caused by high levels of floating debris on the surface of the wet well and higher than normal percentages of rag/non-biological solids in the wastewater.

The Heathrow team trusted Xylem’s expertise in solving these particularly challenging problems and agreed to trial Flygt Concertor, a new wastewater pumping system with integrated intelligence.

“We have used a number of Flygt technologies over the years and have found the Flygt team to be very willing to listen to our needs – always eager to find a solution to our particular challenge,” Jolly said.

Flygt’s new wastewater pumping system combines built-in sump- and pipe-cleaning functionalities into a single integrated solution. It is capable of tackling sump floating debris as well as pipe sedimentation. Furthermore, the pump-cleaning function, together with adaptive N-hydraulics, effectively detects and solves clogging from large debris.

It is the integration of “intelligent” functionalities and technology that makes Flygt Concertor an effective wastewater pumping system, providing results and long-term positive benefits for many applications.

The Results

Since its installation at the Heathrow Central Area Sanitation Unit in November 2015, Concertor has provided clog-free operation, as well as a significant improvement in the wet well environment.

“Since installing Concertor, we have had absolutely no clogging, and the sump remains clean with no fat buildup,” said Jolly. “As well as peace of mind – which really is priceless – the cost savings are significant at approximately 87.5% of the annual costs in cleaning and servicing.”

Clog-free operations and a clean wastewater pumping station are not the only ways that Flygt Concertor improves wastewater operations. The system aims to deliver reliability at the lowest total cost of ownership, and to achieve this it drastically reduces energy consumption.

In the case of the once-troublesome Central Area Sanitation Unit pumping station, energy savings are up to 53%, which is a result of both sophisticated software and components.

The Energy Minimizer function, together with the patented adaptive-N hydraulics and the IE4 efficiency motor, automatically ensures that all the pumps run at their most efficient duty point. Additionally, since there is no need for ventilation, cooling or heating of cabinets, customers benefit from substantial energy savings over the system’s total lifecycle.

Flygt Concertor is proof that new technologies for wastewater pumping do not require more components or complexities. On the contrary – this system is user-friendly and simple to install, commission and operate.

“Concertor’s compact design allowed it to fit into the existing position within the pump station without any extra investment required to enlarge the cabinet,” Jolly said. “From an aesthetic and practical consideration, the reduced panel requirement size will be of great benefit. It was simple to install and very user-friendly. Actually, the trial pump was installed by one of the airport’s water services mechanical technicians, who was not experienced in the commissioning of wastewater pumping systems, and quickly gained confidence in the ease of installation and operation.”