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DERAGGER demonstrates benefits in independent trial

Clearwater Controls' DERAGGER device cuts energy consumption by up to 80 per cent, significantly reduces maintenance requirements and helps to extend asset life, according to a new independent trial.

Clearwater Controls' technical director, Graham McIvor, and managing director, Simon CromptonClearwater Controls' technical director, Graham McIvor, and managing director, Simon Crompton

The DERAGGER, which is used to prevent blockages in wastewater pumps, works by detecting tiny changes in flow rate, run time, variable frequency, drive speed and power consumption in the pump, which can indicate the presence of a rag on the impeller at a very early stage. It then reverses the pump temporarily until it dislodges the rag allowing it to re-enter the wastewater flow.

The study – delivered by the Water Research Centre (WRc) in conjunction with United Utilities and Wessex Water – assessed the DERAGGER's performance over the course of a 20-week trial.

Running a pump when it is partially ragged, with an unstable current and unbalance impeller is known to cause significant wear and increase the amount of energy required.

It is estimated that manually lifting and repairing pumps costs utility companies as much £160 million a year, with annual energy bills reaching £50 million if not more.

During the trial, the DERAGGER minimised the need for manual cleaning at all testing sites. In one case, maintenance jobs decreased from nine to just one per month. At another site, no maintenance was required at all during a six-week period.

In addition, the DERAGGER reduced energy consumption by up to 80 per cent for pumps that had not been recently cleaned and 20 per cent for pumps which had been regularly lifted and cleaned.

Even in stations considered previously not to suffer from blockages, the DERAGGER achieved energy savings between 7 per cent and 20 per cent. The report also found that efficiency savings could deliver extensions to asset life.

Dr Leo Carswell, head of technology at WRc, said: “Our thorough analysis of the raw data from five DERAGGER trial sites clearly demonstrates the impact this innovation can have in the wastewater sector.

"We found it to demonstrably reduce pump blockages, and also significantly reduce energy consumption – even on sites considered to be at low risk of blockages.”

Keith Haslett, director of wastewater network plus at United Utilities, said that despite winning awards, the device was unproven in the large-scale and complex environment of a UK public sewer system.

"With any new tech, take-up can initially be slow until engineers are comfortable that it will work the way they want it to," he said. "That’s where we came in."

United Utilities’ innovation team has worked with other tech start-ups for several years, helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and in some cases giving them access to the company’s expertise, resources and data.

"This was slightly different in that the device was already on the market, but it had never been tested in the environments where we could use it," Haslett said. "Its potential was huge.

"Blocked pumps account for an estimated 80-90 per cent of all unplanned work carried out on the sewer system and are known to increase pumping energy costs."

Clearwater Controls managing director Simon Crompton said: “We’ve known for some time that our technology can significantly reduce blocked pumps, which account for an estimated 90 per cent of all unplanned work carried out in the sewage system. These independent findings confirm that our device has the functionality to tackle the problem head on, by preventing blockages from occurring in the first place.

“On pumps that don’t regularly suffer blockages, while we were confident the DERAGGER would make a noticeable difference, we did not know the full extent. These findings show that even on these stations the DERAGGER can significantly decrease energy consumption and improve asset life, confirming our device truly is revolutionary.” 

Author: Robin Hackett, Deputy Editor, WWT and WET News
Topic: Innovation , Pumps & Pumping Systems , Sewer Networks
Tags: wastewater , pumps , energy bills , efficiency savings , Innovation , United Utilities , Wessex Water

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