GE Technology Recovers Wastewater in Utah's Largest Bioreactor Facility0

ecomagination staff | Tue Nov 20 2012

Utah’s arid climate makes planning for future water needs critical. So when a community just south of Salt Lake City was seeking wastewater treatment options, they sought out the most high-tech and resource efficient solution that could also be a good neighbor in a populated area.

The Jordan Basin Water Reclamation Facility (JBWRF) chose GE’s ZeeWeed* 500 ultrafiltration membranes, which can clean up to 15 million gallons a day (mgd). It is designed to be expanded in the future to an ultimate capacity of 30 mgd to meet the community’s growth.

The Utah district chose GE’s MBR because it “allows you to build a much smaller footprint facility, so it’s a good neighbor,” says Paul Schuler, North American Sales Executive, GE Power & Water. “They decided to take the best available technology on the market to treat wastewater the best they could, so they’re being good stewards of the environment.”

The technology has multiple industrial applications — refineries, food and beverage plants and pharmaceutical facilities all use Zeeweed where they need biological treatment of water. It’s also good for neighborhoods because it gives off limited odor and has a smaller footprint

Treating the water has two main steps. “Sewage comes down the pipe, goes through screens to remove pieces of plastic, then it goes in a big tank and microbes eat it,” explains Schuler. “That’s the first part- the bioreactor part.”

In the second stage, the treated water moves into a separate tank, which holds the membranes. The membranes are called Zeeweed because they move in the tank like seaweed underwater, Schuler said.

Each membrane has pores roughly the size of human skin pores. The unit uses suction above where the membranes hang down, which pulls the wastewater through the pores and filters it. “What comes out on top is clean water,” says Schuler.

Using GE’s MBR technology allowed to have a site footprint that is half to one-third that of a conventional plant. In addition, a 3.25-acre wetland area was constructed along with the treatment facility to mitigate areas affected by the construction project. The wetland will be maintained using treated water from the plant.

Everyday, GE technology treats over 2 billion gallons of water. Nearly 1,000 plants worldwide use the GE’s ZeeWeed membranes to produce quality drinking water and meet or exceed wastewater treatment and reuse standards. The global installed base of GE’s ZeeWeed ultrafiltration membranes has a total capacity to enable the reuse of over 425 million gallons of water per day, equivalent to the daily consumption of 4.7 million average Americans.

“The Jordan Basin facility will continue to see the benefits of installing GE’s MBR technology at their site for many years to come because the GE technology allows for easy expansion,” said Yuvbir Singh, general manager, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.

And, Schuler notes, district officials are so confident in the quality of the water, they put it on display.

“To show off their treatment plant’s effluent quality, they pipe it into a fountain in their office building there and in the fountain they have fish and lily pads living in there,” he says.