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green scene

Winning
Technology

By Sindhu Nair

Waagner Biro has at hand a technology that can be used to harness energy through reeds for which, they have received the Qatar Today Green Awards (QTGA) for Green Innovation in 2009.

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Peter Neuschaefer, Director of Environment, Waagner Biro

hen Waagner Biro Gulf WLL won the Green Innovation Award at the QTGA in October 2009 for their wastewater treatment at Al Khor, it was of no surprise to those in the field of sustainable energy. They knew that the concept of using reed wastewater treatment is not just innovative but that it has the additional benefits of harnessing alternative fuel too. Qatar Today spoke to Peter Neuschaefer, Director Water, Energy & Environment

12/31/09 5:08:01 PM

green scene

Technologies, Waagner Biro Gulf LLC, who outlined the working concept and the innovative technology involved. The most interesting and beneficial property of the harvested reed was that 2.5 kg of it could generate a litre of fuel oil and this could be further utilised for commercial purposes. Our treatment system called the TerraSave uses 2,000 kinds of bacteria while the conventional treatment plant uses 200 kinds of bacteria. This clearly demonstrates the higher quality of treatment through natural processes, says Neuschaefer.

The most interesting and beneficial property of the harvested reed was that 2.5 kg of it could generate a litre of fuel oil and this factor could be put to use for further commercial benefits.

Future Fuel

The TerraSave system, with its planted reeds, gives any government the ability to participate within the CER (Certified Emission Reductions) trading community worldwide, by harvesting the reeds and re-using its biomass in power plants for the production of hydrogen fuel. Neuschaefer cites various cases where this reed technology is being used for harvesting fuel. In Bavaria, financed by Bayer, they have planted 10 hectares of reed fields to produce biomass hydrogen fuel as an alternative energy source for power stations. The total quantity of reed fields in Germany is in excess of 500 hectares, created in the last four years specifically as an alternative energy source. And this is without considering the benefits of using it for wastewater treatment. Neuschaefer and his team at Waagner go a step ahead and plan for the technology to be used for harnessing energy and for wastewater treatment, together to get maximum benefits from the technology. Potentially, we could combine our decentralised wastewater or sludge treatment concept and develop a phenomenal opportunity for harvesting the reeds as an energy resource with solar power generation at the same location of the reed beds and storage of the energy in battery systems that can either be harnessed within the MENA or sold out. The first of such a concept is being

installed in Dubai. The concept will demonstrate the link to all components, wastewater treatment, solar power generation, biomass production and energy storage in one framework. This concept called the TerraSave-TEC and will be installed by end of January 2010 or latest by the beginning of February, he says.

Meeting Challenges

But it wasnt as easy as it seems says Neuschaefer, and required a whole process of convincing the authorities and the consultants. . First of all, the idea was new in Qatar. We had to approach the Ministry of Environment too. But the difficulty was in convincing the consultants not the government of Qatar. There were some young officials at the Ministry who were aware about the constructed wetland design and understood the concept well. This helped us a lot. Finally, we got the approvals with detailed calculations that showed that sludge dewatering through reed beds do work well. In general, the government bodies are looking for environment-friendly projects but the main concern of the client was the function and the cost-effectiveness of the project. We had to convince the consultants and the authorities of these factors. In the end, we did and now we have clients like Asghal. UDC is also one of our clients for whom we maintain their wastewater treatment plants on the Pearl project.

when I joined Waagner Biro Gulf. We started to build one constructed wetland for our own labour camp in Dubai Jadaf where we were able to see the results of the trial project. After we found out that the treated wastewater met the standards of governmental regulation, we proceeded with the first official project for Dubai Municipality (Environment Department). From then on, I could market our wetlands with research studies and proofs of the constructed wetlands. Dr Peter Bridgewater, the former Secretary General of the RAMSAR convention of Wetlands, has also given his support to promote the concept. He is still working with me and advises the company on a regular basis. UNESCO has also expressed interest in our project and we are in constant communication.

Recession and Awareness

Inception and Development

Neuschaefer goes down memory lane and talks about the inception stages and the development of the concept. The business started six years ago

Neuschaefer says that, recession has had its positive impact in the sustainable scene. Earlier it was difficult to introduce this kind of decentralised concept to developers as well as the government. A year ago everyone wanted to make money by selling projects which were not sustainable. Now after the downturn, most of the developers and consultants are looking for sustainable solutions and we have had a lot of inquiries. Though slowly, Neuschaefer feels that the Middle Eastern countries are implementing sustainable practices. It took Germany 30 years to bring this kind of awareness. According to government laws and regulations, the industry has to develop and promote new technologies. Thus Germany, where our parent company is based, is one of the top countries in renewable technologies in the world. We cannot blame countries like Qatar or the UAE, it will take time to educate the younger generation. It is for us to persuade the governments through such projects that this is the time for investing in new technologies. Countries like Qatar or the UAE should take sustainable steps and not make the same mistakes Europe did. n
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