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‘Quality maintenance key to extending lifecycle of District Cooling assets’

EfloChem, a member of the Concorde-Corodex Group, discusses issues plaguing water systems of District Cooling plants, including on the need to invest in maintenance to extend lifecycle of assets, and on what utility providers must look for in water treatment providers. Excerpts…

| | Jun 16, 2019 | 12:45 pm
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Have concerted efforts to promote District Cooling in the UAE cultivated a demand for treated sewage effluent (TSE)? Has the company seen a significant uptake in TSE? 

As the water demand of a plant is huge, and given the scarcity of water and the competitive cost of TSE water, when compared to municipal water, there is presently a trend of using TSE in District Cooling plants, which is ever increasing in the UAE. Compared to the past decade and even compared to the past couple of years, a large number of District Cooling plants have shifted to TSE, which is a good sign – that the industry has increased its focus on sustainability.

Could you speak on the implications of using polished TSE compared to raw TSE?

Raw TSE has high amounts of contamination in the forms of bacteria/organic content, dissolved salts, dissolved gases and also heavy metals, which cause problems in upstream stages of a District Cooling plant. Polishing eliminates all of these contaminants to a greater extent, and such water, expectedly, imparts lesser burden on the treatment programme. A major setback with using raw water is that it causes rapid breeding of bacteria, which has serious health implications for humans.

Based on the company’s experience in the UAE, what are the most common problems plaguing water systems in District Cooling plants? How is this inhibiting optimal operation of plants?

The major problems water systems in District Cooling plants face are:
►► Scaling of calcium, magnesium, silicate and ferrous salts on the inner surfaces of water conduits. This causes energy losses in the form of decreased heat transfer, operational difficulty in the form of decreased flow, and partial or complete blockage of system leading to its collapse.
►► Corrosion of the pipes and other metallic components, which occurs mainly due to improperly treated water and water with high microbial load.
►► Microbes and microbial slimes, which pose health hazard to operators and the surrounding population. Conditions, such as growth and spread of Legionella bacteria, could create emergency health hazard situations. Presence of any of these conditions impacts the operational efficiency, increases operational costs and creates an additional layer of disposal concerns. And if the problems remain untreated for long, the implications could be in the form of breakdown or collapse of components and, eventually, of the entire District Cooling system.

What is the level of interest among stakeholders in the UAE when it comes to investing in proper maintenance of District Cooling water systems?

A proper and timely maintenance scheme provides increased benefits of sustained efficiency and energy savings, in addition to reduced downtime. Stakeholders are more inclined to adopt a well-suited maintenance programme. Investment in maintenance has been increasing and is expected to rise more in the future due to stringent regulations.

What is the level of interest among stakeholders in the UAE when it comes to investing in proper maintenance of District Cooling water systems?

A proper and timely maintenance scheme provides increased benefits of sustained efficiency and energy savings, in addition to reduced downtime. Stakeholders are more inclined to adopt a well-suited maintenance programme. Investment in maintenance has been increasing and is expected to rise more in the future due to stringent regulations.

What should District Cooling utility providers look for in a water treatment provider?

Though cost is the major deciding factor, it can be arguably concluded that a single factor that can be looked for is the versatility of solutions offered by the water treatment provider. Utilities should also give importance to the quality of products, sustainability of the solutions being offered and Research & Development, which indicates that the water treatment provider is dependable when it comes to unique and critical concerns and that the quality of products/solutions will be of ever-increasing standards apart from being protected from future challenges of water treatment. Lastly, there should be a solid contingency plan in the event of a breakdown or shutdown. In the current market, cost is the dominant factor involved in decision-making. A greater emphasis on cost leads the customer to adopt short-term solutions, which appear to be cost-effective but will not be advantageous or sustainable in the long run. As a water treatment solutions provider, we are always under pressure when designing a suitable and comprehensive treatment programme, owing to this factor.

There is a lot of talk on the need for a more holistic approach to enhance efficiency of District Cooling plants. As a water treatment provider, would you like to collaborate and engage further with stakeholders in the design, operation and maintenance of District Cooling plants?

Yes, we would love to collaborate with various stakeholders, as doing so would help us provide an optimal treatment programme. Better connection and engagement with operations will help to identify critical and novel issues encountered by the operations personnel. This will help to identify issues at the earliest and make the treatment quick and economical, as delays in adopting correct treatment procedures increase time and cost. This also helps to design new products or solutions to meet the current and future demands of the industry. Collaboration with maintenance will ensure a proper and on-time treatment. Collaboration with stakeholders on the design will be beneficial, as doing so will give us an opportunity to provide design recommendations that would be beneficial for the operations in the long run.

From what we understand, the company offers annual maintenance contracts for District cooling plants. Could you elaborate on the range of solutions the company offers? Has there been a particular uptake for one type of service over the other?

EfloChem manufactures and supplies specialty chemicals for conditioning and treatment of water used by cooling systems, and oversees protection and maintenance of system components of District Cooling plants, like pipes, condensers, chillers and storage tanks. We offer manual and digital water testing kits to check all the water parameters and keep track of the water treatment programme. EfloChem also offers services such as the cleaning and passivation of HVAC components in District Cooling plants. We have a dedicated team for these jobs. Our service includes water testing and providing recommendation to the customers for further action based on the test results. Regarding the annual maintenance contracts, we also provide maintenance solutions to protect the systems from operational damage and to maintain the efficiency.

 

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com


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