Qatar: Thinking green and living clean
Thinking green, living clean and being environmentally conscious, are the biggest industry trends underpinning construction and urban development companies in Qatar
In a country where water is a scarce resource and with limited reserves of groundwater that are being depleted by overuse and low rainfall, Qatar is threatened with a potential water shortage.
This, coupled with a population that is projected to trend around 2.72 million in 2020 according to local econometric models, and against the backdrop of a country that is currently experiencing a construction boom that has resulted in a large influx of workers, what does this mean for the foreseeable future?
Tim Ryan is the divisional manager, Technology Services Gulf Contracting in Qatar, a partnership between Gulf Contracting Company (GCC) and BIONEST Technologies (BIONEST), specialising in the design, manufacture and marketing of technologies to provide solutions for the treatment of domestic wastewater. He discusses the history of Gulf Contracting BIONEST, the impact that the partnership has already had in Qatar and how the country is a clean, green oasis that is just waiting to happen.
Since its inception, Gulf Contracting BIONEST has been the local provider in Qatar of the BIONEST technology and supporting infrastructure. The technology uses an advanced generation of onsite wastewater treatment systems to address issues related to Qatar’s most precious resource: water. The system has been engineered to achieve the highest pollutant removal targets, using simple, efficient, and robust technology. This technology treats conventional domestic strength sewage as well as high strength wastewater found in commercial and community-type environments, in a manner that is also cost effective.
While not intended for drinking, cooking or showering, the system produces clean, clear water than can be safely used for a number of purposes throughout Qatar, including: toilet and urinal flushing, irrigation works, commercial laundry, dust suppression, equipment washing, concrete batching and curing, aggregate and sand washing, pipe testing, cooling tower water, as well as for firefighting and civil defense purposes.
The Gulf Contracting BIONEST is an odourless and virtually noiseless wastewater treatment solution with low operational power demands, resulting in low energy consumption. The distinctive system requires no hazardous chemicals, using only chlorine tablets for final disinfection, as it reduces the pressure on municipal sewage networks by treating domestic sewage at its source.
In Qatar, treatment at source also contributes to a reduction of sewage tanker traffic, reducing carbon emissions. In turn, the high quality of treated water allows for multiple opportunities for re-use, including watering plants, gardens and fields, also reducing demand and consumption of sweet water for those uses, whilst at the same time, increasing the potential for the provision of green areas for agricultural or recreational purposes.
The aspect that makes the system so efficient is that the biological process takes place inside a submerged fixed-film bioreactor. A vital element in the effectiveness of the BIONEST process is the patented ‘ribbon shaped’ media. Biomass or beneficial bacteria develop firmly attaching to the uniquely textured surface, while its 3D structure allows complete distribution throughout the tank, simultaneously occupying only 3% of the tank’s volume. A high population of beneficial bacteria, and the support offered by the media for their growth, provides the reactor with outstanding performance as well as excellent resistance to hydraulic shocking (peak flow). The extended retention time ensures sufficient opportunity for the bacteria to remove pollutants, as well as biological sludge production.
Unlike traditional activated sludge systems which require daily sludge ‘wasting’, the system has been developed so that it only requires sludge removal after two to five years, and following that, only in minimal quantities, once again reducing the quantity of the tanker’s movements. The major portion of the reactor is aerated through linear air pumps and fine bubble diffusers which provide turbulent conditions to optimise treatment. Multiple small capacity pumps are used to supply air to the reactor allowing for redundancy, ensuring continuity of the treatment, even during maintenance or the failure of one or more air pumps. In the remaining portion of the reactor, a high level of dissolved oxygen further assists in the oxidation process, albeit in a calmer environment.
Ultimately, this calm zone ensures that the final effluent will be extremely clear with no cloudiness or discolouration. The system incorporates a recirculation loop that makes the system a multi-pass process, bringing the performance to a very high level.
BIONEST technologies were first introduced to Qatar in order to manage mounting environmental issues, social challenges and economic pressures that have a rapid impact on the ever-changing landscape. Originally, two units were used in the country: with the first one located at the Doha Golf Club where it was used to maintain the upkeep of the golf course’s lush green fields, as well as being used to water plants, flowers and the garden. Meanwhile, the second unit was trialled at Aspire Zone. The unit is cost effective, with ease of installation and maintenance, and no skilled attendant required.
Owing to growing local demand, a further six systems were purchased and transported to a workers’ camp in Doha that is currently housing 6,000 residents. Here, the unit has been used to reduce the amount of sewage as well as the amount of wastewater. The units were trialled in the UAE to combat similar constraints, with the results showing that there was a reduction in potable water consumption owing to re-use of treated water for irrigation and dust suppression, as well as low levels of sludge production.
The outcome was that water consumption was reduced following the introduction of the BIONEST unit, implemented almost five years ago across two camps totalling around 6,000 men. Currently, there are over 50 of these systems installed in Qatar.