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GRUNDFOS TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Minimizing Life Cycle Costs of


Wastewater Pumps
Klaus Ackermann*

1 I
Protecting natural resources often involves new technological challenges. For
instance, the decrease per capita in water consumption (including industrial consumption) results in a reduction of the total quantity of wastewater. The resulting higher solid content of wastewater leads to oversized sewers silting up faster, stagnant wastewater, and an increase in its hydrogen sulfide content. Further
challenges arise from the economic pressure on disposal plants: wastewater
pumps need further development in terms of optimizing their efficiency and
with regard to fully automated operation in order to reduce the required manpower and allow their integration into central building management systems. The
target is to minimize the life cycle cost of wastewater pumps.

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Process systems always produce wastewater. The selection of an appropriate


wastewater pump depends on the prevailing conditions, e.g., quantity and composition of the pumped liquid etc., Fig. 1.

Q [m3/h]

Figure 1. Wastewater pumps of the S


series, performance overview - Grundfos
range of submersible sewage pumps.

Correct dimensioning is not only a prerequisite for trouble-free wastewater disposal; the entire production process may be severely affected if, for example, sufficient cleaning of machines and system components was not ensured.
In most cases, pump failure, in often very complex peripheral systems, entails a
production standstill. Downtime or delayed production is expensive. Basically,
downtime costs are a major part of life cycle costs.
A number of factors have to be considered when selecting an industrial wastewater pump. Most importantly, free passage has to be sufficient to prevent clogging
of the pump. Where penetration by explosive media, e.g., fuel, cannot be excluded an explosion-proof pump is required. As wastewater may always, even in cleaning circuits, contain abrasive particles, pumps have to be extremely wear-resistant. In pumps operated around the clock, efficiency is crucial to the overall economy of the process.

*Sales Manager, Grundfos GmbH,


Erkrath, Germany

GRUNDFOS TECHNICAL ARTICLE

The following parameters must be known in order to select adequate pump


dimensions:
The actual wastewater or effluent quantity to be pumped. Estimations
should be as close as possible here since oversized pumps inevitably
cause avoidable investment and operating costs;
The composition of the wastewater or effluent;
Local conditions at the pump location. This information is relevant in
order to determine the actual inlet conditions (NPSH value).
However, handling and cost consideration make the integration of all
system components an increasingly important factor requiring further
thought:
Selection of the piping material. Depending on the application, pressure pipes used in industry are typically made of HDPE or stainless steel
with HDPE pipes becoming ever more important because of its low
weight (density 950 to 955kg/m) and its recycling qualities, its ability to cope with numerous liquids and temperatures ranging from -30 to
+50C. The heat conductivity of 0.3-0.4W/(mC) is yet another advantage;
Fittings. In low pressure pipes ball check valves have proved a good
choice while bigger pumping stations mostly rely on swing-type nonreturn valves;
Prefabricated HDPE or a concrete pump pit for underground installation or an individual overground solution has to be selected. Industry
emissions like odor and noise are a focus of public attention; therefore
low-emission underground solutions are often preferred for pumping
stations;
Furthermore, a clear tendency towards integrated electronic components and requirement-specific control systems in order to replace
manpower-intensive system monitoring has been seen over the past
Years.
Solids and dissolved substances contained in wastewater tend to deposit and
encrust the piping. In particular, vertical pumping bears the risk of solid accumulation in the pump sump or blocking of non-return valves by solid deposits. To
ensure safe operation, the following minimum self-cleaning velocities must be
met:
horizontal pipes v = 0.7m/s,
vertical pipes v = 1m/s.
For reasons of noise protection and economy a maximum of 2.3 m/s should not
be exceeded. With small inflows, the required volume flow is therefore often
determined by the self-cleaning velocity rather than by the volume of wastewater to be pumped.
Wastewater systems within the chemical process industry are subject to the
European Standard DIN EN 752 Drainage systems outside buildings, part 6, pump
systems and a variety of other specific provisions including legal restrictions like
water resources law, state water provisions, and the system decree (decree on
systems for storing, decanting, and transferring water-polluting substances),
which oblige operators of chemical systems to check the composition of any wastewater from production systems before discharge into biological sewage treatment systems. The pit water may not be disposed of before its composition has
been analyzed. Only wastewater, which does not contain harmful substances, is
directly transferred to the biological sewage treatment system. If contamination
is detected, the liquid is pumped into tanks which are either transferred to combustion or processing plants.

GRUNDFOS TECHNICAL ARTICLE

3 L C C - S I
O C
The life cycle costs (LCC) of a pump system are composed of a variety of individual factors, which include investment and installation costs, then, the extremely
important, energy costs, preventative maintenance and service costs are also considered and, eventually, decommissioning and any environmental costs accrued.
The trouble, cost, and loss of confidence involved when the pump suddenly stops
operating are difficult to estimate. The reliability and availability of a pump
determine the total cost volume accruing over the lifetime of the pump.
According to a survey by international leaders in water supply, the purchase price
of a pump only accounts for about 5% of LCC, while 10% goes to maintenance
and 85% is attributable to energy consumption.
Therefore, investing in a seemingly more expensive and advanced pump often
pays for itself within a few years, as these pumps consume significantly less energy and clearly require less maintenance efforts. This particularly applies to highperformance wastewater pumps.
Correct dimensioning with regard to the pumped liquid, flow, and head in question is the first step towards minimizing LCC. In addition, impeller and hydraulic
design have a remarkable effect on operating and maintenance costs. If designed
for a specified point of best efficiency the pump will only show optimum results
for this operating range. If in everyday operation the actual operating data turn
out to be different from the calculated values, the pumps will waste energy. This
is where speed-controlled pumps have advantages.
Maintenance-friendly design is yet another cost-reducing factor which is illustrated by the following example. Fibrous particles can block the impeller and are
therefore the natural enemy of any wastewater pump, since there is only a small
clearance between pump housing and impeller, allowing free impeller movement. Therefore, in all channel impeller pumps the pressure difference causes
some wastewater to flow back from the discharge to the suction side. This phenomenon often causes the impeller to get stuck requiring removal, dismantling,
cleaning and re-installing the pump.
Even if the worst case does not happen, the conventional seal gap (a soft metal
wear ring) is worn down relatively quickly by this continuous wastewater flow.
Replacing it is a time- and cost-consuming job. Along with the gradual erosion of
the wear ring, pump efficiency continuously decreases leading to higher operating costs. Furthermore, the slow wear also affects operating safety.
Recently, the pump firm Grundfos introduced a new pump series in order to overcome these inconveniences. The S series of wastewater pumps were designed to
minimize the clogging risk of the clearance using a self-cleaning front gap, causing particles to be washed away from the clearance. Furthermore, the axial clearance can be adjusted from outside during operation using the patented
SmartTrim system, Fig. 2.
Figure 2. SmartTrim systems for adjustment of
the axial clearance from outside and during
operation.

This involves neither dismantling nor removal of the pump from the suction pipe.
The need for regular and costly replacement of the wear ring is eliminated.

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4 W C D I S
In practice, the operating costs of a wastewater pump are often forced up by a
hydraulic design, which is not suited for the pumped liquid. As a result, the pump
clogs and has to be stopped, cleaned, and started again, a rather unpleasant,
time- and cost-consuming procedure. Therefore, the selection of a suitable
hydraulic design is of utmost importance. The impeller shape required depends
on the type of liquid and the application in question.
In the field of sewage and effluent pumping, single-channel and Vortex impellers
have become the prevailing solution. Vortex impellers are not in direct contact
with the liquid, following the principle of hydraulic coupling, the liquid circulates
in the housing. The liquid flows past the impeller, so that even liquids containing
long fibers or plait-formed solids can be pumped. Often, in addition, cutting wheels are used to grind large particles.
the so-called SuperVortex impeller allows safe and reliable wastewater pumping
even with small pump sizes, Fig. 3.
Since the impeller is not in direct contact with the liquid, it cannot get clogged.
Furthermore, the patented design with wings preventing the typical vortex formation in the liquid results in a higher operating efficiency, without affecting
safety. The pumps are suitable for particle diameters up to 100mm. They are typically used to pump wastewater and small quantities of rainwater as well as gassing liquids.

Figure 3. SuperVortex impeller supplying highpressures even with lower flow rates.

SuperVortex impellers have a steep characteristic, the great advantage of which


is the high pressure available even at relatively low flow rates. This is particularly
advantageous when small quantities of wastewater are to be pumped through
very long pipes. While additional booster units have to be installed in the case of
less efficient pumps, wastewater pumps of the so-called S series eliminate the
need for such extra investment.
With multichannel impellers large volumes of sewage, effluent or surface rain water can be pumped. Free passages of up to 145mm allow
the pumping of untreated wastewater with a high solid content.
Superior hydraulic properties provide for higher efficiency and therefore particularly economic operation. To ensure trouble-free and smooth
operation, the axial clearing is easily adjustable from outside by means of the
SmartTrim system on the suction side of the pump. The pumps are typically
used in rainwater pump stations, process water pump plants, and sewage
works.
The single-channel impeller allows for the high-efficiency pumping of
untreated wastewater, rain water, and sludge. The position of the hub,
far back in the pump housing, provides for a free passage from 80110mm and thus the safe pumping of solids and fibers. With the
SmartTrim system, the axial clearance can easily be adjusted from out
side to invariably ensure operation at high efficiency. The impeller
vanes prevent solid deposits between the pump housing on the suction side and the impeller, thus protecting the pump from clogging.
These pumps are used in wastewater pump stations as well as in sewage treatment plants.
The cutter system consists of an impeller topped by a cutting unit
made from hardened stainless steel. The solids are ground by approx.
11600 cutting actions per minute and then pumped through an easily
installed small-diameter discharge pipe. The pumps are suitable for
wastewater volumes of up to 8L/s. Their high head of up to 68m
even allows drainage of remote areas through long discharge pipes.

GRUNDFOS TECHNICAL ARTICLE

5 H-D P P S
Apart from careful pump selection, system solutions in industrial wastewater
technology also require a high degree of integration of all components involved.
In wastewater disposal, the choice often falls on ready-to-install pump pits, they
can be equipped to suit specific requirements and are available in various diameters. The possible quick and easy installation of wastewater systems makes them
especially useful for industrial use.
The prefabricated, virtually ready-to-install systems are designed for underground installation. They consist of submersible pumps, piping, fittings, and a
pump pit made from polyethylene or concrete. The electrical control unit is fitted
into a control box mounted over ground. In many cases the HDPE type lifting station is the best solution.
Due to its light weight the plastic pit is easily transported and installed. All that
remains to be done at the building site is to connect the inlet, pressure pipe, and
the pumps power supply.
HDPE (high-density polyethylene) offers a whole range of specific benefits for
wastewater technology, which is illustrated by the following example. In the
years following German reunification, water consumption in East Germany decreased by about 50%, with a corresponding drop in the wastewater volume. In the
now clearly oversized sewers, wastewater stagnates and becomes putrid. As a
result of these decomposition processes, the H2S concentration of the wastewater rises. H2S, however, attacks conventional concrete pits and in the long term
destroys them. HDPE wastewater pump stations are an interesting redevelopment solution for these applications, as polyethylene resists hydrogen sulfide.
Further benefits are offered:
The fully recyclable HDPE pump pit is robust and resists corrosion by,
e.g., stagnant wastewater;
The double-wall, jointless design ensures absolute tightness;
Number and location of ports can be selected according to the requirements (three inlets DN 150 with lip ring, four ports DN 100, optional
flushing connections);
The ball-shaped pump sump counteracts depositing;
Light weight (concrete versions are 10 times heavier) which allows easy
installation;
The large base plate prevents the pump pit from floating.
For industrial users this is an economic and at the same time fast solution. Within a few hours, the prefabricated pump station is lowered
into the ditch and connected.

GRUNDFOS TECHNICAL ARTICLE

6 S
The foundations of a short pump lifetime and/or high life cycle cost are often laid
down at the very beginning. If the pumping conditions are not clear at the time
of dimensioning or significantly change after commissioning, the pump will be
the wrong size and will inevitably be damaged. When selecting or dimensioning
a wastewater pump, the most important information required is about the operating conditions such as the actual wastewater volume to be pumped, actual
composition of the wastewater and local conditions, e.g., location of the pump.
Furthermore, due to the high cost pressure on wastewater plant operators, the
optimum integration of all system components has become a focus of interest.
The fittings and valves have to be chosen carefully. The questions of whether to
opt for a prefabricated pump pit or tailor-made solution or whether to chose
manual operation or remote control must be answered. There is a tendency
towards increasing integration of electronic components and requirement-oriented monitoring and control systems. The smart pumps available on the market
today, equipped with speed control and sensors for early failure detection are
positively failure-tolerant and consequently long-lived which are the prerequisites of low life cycle costs of wastewater pumps.