May 1, 2010


The self-contained modular wastewater treatment facility earned PTI the Modular Building Institute’s Award of Distinction.

FEATURE | Water, Wastewater, Sewer & Watermain


PTI Group earns kudos for modular wastewater treatment facility

The Modular Building Institute recently recognized Edmonton-based PTI Group, a supplier of remote site services to resource industries, with its Award of Distinction.

PTI’s winning entry was an 80 cubic metre-per-day modular waste-water treatment plant.

The portable treatment plant was designed to process waste-water generated by a population of 300 people with a footprint that is 45 per cent smaller than conventional treatment plants handling similar volumes.

The self-contained treatment plant is housed in a single 12 foot by 60 foot modular unit.

The treatment plant was designed for use in remote areas, where typical store-and-haul methods of collection and treatment of waste-water aren’t cost-efficient.

Instead of chemicals, the plant uses a proprietary membrane technology that enables it to produce an effluent that can be safely discharged back into the environment or reused as process water in the industrial plant where it is located.

Jason Curzon, water and waste-water co-ordinator in the Chimo Division of PTI, said most of his company’s modular treatment units are being used in the Alberta oilsands.

“There are more people working in the oilsands and waste there needs better treatment,” he said.

Traditional technology treats waste-water with aeration and separation, and the remains are drained off into a ditch or lagoon.

In recent years, however, higher Canadian treatment standards have been put in place, with the result that older technologies have had to be replaced by cleaner ones.

“The higher standards are impossible to achieve using aeration and separation alone,” Curzon said.

PTI’s proprietary waste-water treatment system uses, in addition to first-stage separation and aeration, a bioreactor membrane filter.

The membrane is a highly engineered thin barrier that has the ability to reject various mineral salts, heavy metals, organic molecules, bacteria, parasites and even viruses, while allowing the permeation or passage of water.

Separation is based on the molecular size, shape or character of the species.

Membrane technology has been available since the 1960s, but, Curzon said, it is only in the last 10 years or so that it has become affordable.

The membrane that PTI’s systems use is based on something called cross-flow filtration, which, Curzon said, makes it simple to operate, cost-effective and compact in size.

It uses bacteria to break down organic waste and other pollutants, such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

PTI purchased the exclusive rights to the technology from the European company that developed it.

PTI uses two models of membrane in its wastewater treatment systems: The Xterion CX7, which is about the size of a large radiator, and the larger Xterion CX9, which is about the size of two pianos.

Curzon said PTI’s membrane technology has advantages over other types.

Because the membranes are installed externally, instead of being submerged, they are easy to access for inspection and maintenance.

Also, high circulation speed over the membranes (two meters/sec) reduces fouling accumulation and the need to clean the membranes.

PTI has a fleet of portable waste-water treatment plants of different sizes.

Units that use the smaller Xterion CX7 membrane can treat the waste-water created by 50-500 people (up to 100 m 3/day).

Units using the larger Xterion CX9 are able to handle the waste-water generated by up to 7,200 people (up to 1,700 m 3/day).

The systems are designed for remote, harsh climates and function at temperatures as low as minus 80 degrees Celsius.

They have an estimated seven-year lifespan.

Colwyn Sunderland, president of the B.C. Water and Waste Association, said one of the biggest challenges of treating waste-water in remote locations is cost-effective operation and maintenance.

“Remote plants typically treat relatively small flows, so operator hours per unit of volume treated are relatively high,” he said.

“Add travel time for a qualified operator and the need to carry an inventory of spare parts and supplies and operating a remote plant can often be quite expensive.”

Sunderland said membrane technologies can address this challenge.

“Membrane technologies have become very cost-competitive in the past decade, particularly where space constraints are tight, or where discharge to freshwater bodies or effluent reuse demand very high effluent quality,” he said.

“However as treatment complexity increases, so do operation and maintenance costs, including energy.”

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