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Years seem to be getting shorter somehow. 2019 is already coming to a close. I’m sorry to see it go as it was a tremendously productive year. The Headworks Team has been hard at work fulfilling customer needs, designing new and innovative solutions for finer screening and anaerobic treatment of highly contaminated industrial wastewater, and receiving newly awarded patents. The Team also has had the privilege of designing the first MBBR plant to be installed in Hong Kong as it moves towards expanding and upgrading its systems.
When I first met Gerald Seidl, he was just moving back from Hong Kong to Vienna, Austria, his hometown. The stories he told of his adventures in Hong Kong have always entertained our family and friends and he now shares them with you in the article he has written about what Hong Kong was like when he first moved there in 1988 and the changes he’s seen. Gerald personally introduced the Headworks Bar Screen to Hong Kong in the early 90’s, and now our Team is providing the first MBBR plant there. For Gerald, it is a lifetime of achievements.
The holiday season is upon us in many parts of the world. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, visiting a Christmas market can be a fun way to spend time and feel the joy of being part of a community. See the gorgeous decorations, have warm food and drink, listen to holiday music, and simply observe the interactions of people together in a unique setting. A Christmas market can dispel any bad mood. Feeling up to traveling during the season? Perhaps you can pick a city to visit with one of the 17 best Christmas markets in the world. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to live in one of these beautiful cities. Vienna has many Christmas markets all around town, the most famous of which is the one at the Rathaus, or City Hall. There’s even an ice rink set up that circles around the decorated giant trees! They always have the most beautiful decorations to buy, and our tree in Houston this year will be filled with them again.
Vienna was also my home for many years. There, we celebrated the changing of the seasons and the holidays quite differently than the traditions I knew from the United States. One of the most horrifying experiences I’ve had during the holiday season was my first December 5th evening as a mother of a 1 ½ year-old toddler, my husband away on business. There was a knock on the door to our third-floor apartment. The house couldn’t be entered without someone buzzing you into the ground floor main door. Who was it? Well, I’ll tell you here if you’re curious. And don’t miss the embedded link to the children’s celebration on December 5th in Linz!
One of the best, and funniest, explanations of the differences between the way Austrians celebrate the holiday and the way we do in the USA is an interview of Christoph Waltz by Jimmy Fallon from 2014. It makes me laugh every year.
I hope you enjoy the holidays, no matter where or how you celebrate!
See you in 2020!
Headworks International Inc.
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Headworks Bio Supplies First MBBR Treatment System in Hong Kong.
Check it out.
Headworks Bio Secures Contract for Design and Supply of
First Full Scale MBBR System in Hong Kong
As a young engineer in the 1980’s, I lived and worked in the Middle East. When the ongoing war between Iran in the Iraq depressed the economy in the region, an opportunity opened up for me to move to Hong Kong. This city, which I adore still to this day, became home to me from 1988 to 1994. It was my good fortune to have arrived just in time to its transition into one of the iconic urban areas in the world.
In the early days, there were still Vietnamese refugee camps set up for the boat people still living there in the aftermath of the Vietnamese war. There was the Walled City, a lawless enclave right next to the airport. Hong Kong is truly one of the most unique cities in the world. It is much more vertical than even New York: the majority of the population lives in high-rises. After work, you can go to the harbor and jump in a Chinese junk to enjoy the amazing skyline on your way to Lamma Island, the third largest island of Hong Kong. There, where cars are not allowed, you can enjoy the most spectacular Chinese food in a setting like stepping back in time fifty years or more ago.
It is similarly impressive how Hong Kong honors and preserves its past, as with the foundation work of a high-end shopping center below. Although a new and modern building once it will be finished, the trees and some old colonial structures were preserved and integrated into the new design.
When I first moved there, the wastewater system was close to non-existent. Most of the effluent was dumped right down to the ocean and even into the harbor between Kowloon and Victoria Island. This basically made Victoria Harbor into a large septic tank. At that time, the DSD (the Hong Kong Utility company) embraced a treatment system development called Strategic Sewer Disposal System (“SSDS”) which established a ring sewer system around the harbor. The SSDS included bar screens installed at all the pump stations followed by disinfection.
When I moved there, all the screens in the city were of a very low quality. Since screening was the key process, DSD was interested in replacing the existing screens with something that would do a better job. Textiles and trash were still clogging the harbor. When I learned of this plan in the newspapers one day, I became obsessed with introducing them to what was to become the Headworks Bar screen to the city, a much more efficient and effective version of the multi-rake bar screen. After lots of resistance and disbelief, finally the chief engineer visited an installation in Europe and became convinced that we really could offer them a brand new world of screen performance and quality.
The first units were installed in the Aberdeen in 1992. The rest is history. In the following years, our efforts resulted in the Headworks Bar Screen replacing 100% of the existing screens. Below are some photos of early installations and contractors friends I’ve now known for over 25 years.
Over 130 Bar Screens were installed in Hong Kong and they are still there performing their duty each day to keep trash out of the sea and harbors. They are located all over the territory. The most unique ones are next to the giant Buddha statue on Lantau Island. The site is best reached by a cable car.
Hong Kong’s DSD continues to focus on delivering world class service to its people. Over the last years, they have researched various systems that could improve processes locally with assistance by the international engineering consulting firm, Black & Veatch. As a result, the consulting firm recommended and designed the first Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (“MBBR”) based system for enhancing a space-limited wastewater plant in Hong Kong.
The existing sewage treatment works (“STW”) located at Sha Tau Kok Town was commissioned in 1989 with a design capacity of 1,660 m3/d at average dry weather flows. Recent development in and around the town has resulted in an increase in population requiring an expansion of the existing STW. The proposed Sha Tau Kok STW expansion will increase the treatment capacity almost ten-fold to 10,000 m3/d. Since the expansion includes construction of wholly new sewage treatment facilities which will take time to build, a temporary sewage treatment plant is being used in the interim to cope with the sewage flow while it is isolated from the existing Sha Tau Kok STW expansion works.
This interim Sha Tau Kok STW will have a treatment capacity of 2,500 m3/d. After a thorough tender evaluation process by Black & Veatch, Headworks along with the main contractor was awarded the project to supply a complete MBBR system for Sha Tau Kok STW. The MBBR process, the first of its kind to be installed in Hong Kong, is comprised of three identical trains, each of which has 5 zones (pre anoxic, MBBR 1, MBBR 2, MBBR 3 and post anoxic) to achieve Total Nitrogen removal (TN). Each zone contains Headworks Bio’s proprietary Active Cell® 920 media carriers which provide a high specific surface area for biofilm growth.
Headworks Bio’s uniquely experienced team of process engineers around the world contributed their expertise in MBBR technology to provide the winning design of a small footprint solution for Sha Tau Kok. There were many design challenges to consider, such as the requirement that the plant can still treat full loads with one train out of service. Much consideration was given to reactor approach velocities, locations of sieves to prevent short circuiting, and the appropriate media fill.
Headworks received the order for Sha Tau Kok MBBR system in Hong Kong in July of 2019. Delivery is in progress and the system is scheduled to go online in February of 2020. Our team of process engineers, mechanical engineers, procurement specialists and project managers are immensely proud of being part of the continued progress in Hong Kong. And for me, it is a lifetime achievement to bring another new technology to a place I will always love.
Looking for innovative technologies to treat your municipal or industrial wastewater? Contact the teams at Headworks International and its subsidiaries to learn about the cutting-edge research we are doing today for the future of water tomorrow. email@example.com or +1-713-647-6667.
By Gerald Seidl, Sr. VP & Co-Founder of Headworks International, Inc.
And here is a list of the 17 Best in the World according to CNN -
Different cultures celebrate the holidays in different ways. Michele’s first encounter with Krampus is recounted
When our child was born, we lived in a Viennese aristocrat’s old mansion that had been cut up into various apartments after WWII. We knew all of our neighbors, mostly young people like us, some of whom were starting their families as well. In a very safe city, the building was completely secure. To visit us, you had to first be buzzed through the gate from the street into the garden and then again at the main door to the house.
Our daughter was just a young toddler of one and a half, an early and confident walker, the Christmas season of 1995. I was fairly clueless about most of the local holiday traditions, I have to confess, busy starting a new business and new parenthood. My husband had traveled to Houston to discuss an opportunity we had to sell our first bar screen there, so I was on my own, decorating the apartment for Christmas.
Suddenly, there was a knock on our door. Not a buzz at the gate. Not a buzz from the front downstairs door of the house. We lived on the third floor. How was it possible someone in the early evening had managed to get into the building and climb the stairs to our apartment?
The apartment was bright with light, always a happy place, with a large foyer at the main door connecting the front door to the kitchen on one side to the living room on the other where I was with Nathalie. I looked at her and she looked at me, I more confused than the baby who maybe thought a knock at the door at night was normal. I put down the ornament I was holding and walked to the door, Nathalie trotting behind me. Vienna is very safe, as I said, so I didn’t really hesitate much to open the door to whomever was there. And there was my first, very horrified, experience with Krampus, standing large at the door, looking like this:
Yes, that is what greeted me at my very safe door! I hardly noticed the fellow beside him dressed like a bishop. I just stood there while the devil monster looked at Nathalie, also astonished into silence and asked if she had been good or bad. “We’re here to give you candy,” the creature said, sounding somewhat apologetic. I put out my hand, took the candy and shut the door firmly, twisting the lock as fast as possible.
Later, I learned that this is the hundreds-of-years-old tradition of “Krampus Night,” when the part goat, part devil Krampus comes out to whip children into good behavior and snatch the worst of them up into a sack and take them away. December 6th is St. Nikolas Day when the kindly saint comes, and good children are rewarded with candies and treats put into the shoes they’ve left out their door overnight.
The people who knocked on our door were our dear neighbors who didn’t realize the scare they’d be giving us. It was many months before they confessed it was them. The Krampus tradition is so strong and honored, that to tell of their part in the foolery perhaps would breach some Krampus code of ethics. In hindsight, it made a funny story and an interesting first “Krampusnacht” experience.
Krampus dates back, some believe, to the pre-Christian era. It certainly has pagan traditions interwoven into the myth. In researching for this story, I was fascinated to learn that the creature had been banned after the 1923 elections when the conservative Christian Socialists took control in Austria, aligning closely with the Catholic Church. Perhaps as the leadership grew morally uglier, their desire was to eliminate anything that reflected who they were becoming. At least that’s my theory.
After the Russians agreed to leave in the mid-1950’s, Austria slowly became a country in its own right. Even though there was an effort by the government to keep Krampus off the streets, he seems to have sneaked his way into the celebrations leading up to Christmas anyway. Krampus is resurging in Austria, especially in the rural Alpine areas and in German Bavaria as well. Books, movies and even video games featuring the evil Christmas devil have carried his myth outside of Europe. Villagers hand carve the wooden masks worn by the men who take on the Krampus role each year. Each village has their own unique traditions, believing that they alone carry on the correct Krampus saga. Krampus is always portrayed by men, at least in Austria and Germany. And it all starts here as seen in this video of the Children’s Krampus Procession (KinderKrampusumzug) in Linz aka Lienz, Austria. Girls are sweetness and light angels who follow St. Nikolas, while boys, well… are boys.
The Krampus events are a bit dangerous if you don’t duck the horns when he approaches you with his switch. It is also an opportunity for a bit of bizarre pagan mating rituals between the men in the costumes and the young maidens who brag the next day about how many bruises they have. And, of course, there are special Krampus schnapps to really wind things up. In other words, it’s just good fun mixed with a bit of fright.
For a hysterical explanation of the difference between the celebration of the holidays in Austria and the USA, there is nothing better than the interview of Austrian actor Christoph Waltz by Jimmy Fallon. Enjoy.
And Happy Holidays!
It may be 5 years old, but it’s still a good laugh!
Have fun here.
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