Salaam aleikum, HeadsUp Readers!
As I write this letter to all of you, it is Sunday, 5th of May, the first day of Ramadan for Moslems. So, it is natural to begin this letter with the standard Egyptian Arabic greeting, “Peace be upon you,” on this first day of thirty days of fasting.
Our Case Study this month covers our five-year celebration of Headworks Bio’s first installation in Egypt. What an experience it was! Headworks Bio was asked to analyze the Mubarak Wastewater Treatment Plant in Alexandria, Egypt. The story of this plant is interwoven with the political events of the day. In order to arrive on time at the customer’s office to sign the contract, our “man in Egypt,” Vice President Afnan Din, had to find a way through the throngs on Tahrir Square in Cairo the day President Morsi was elected. If you click on the link in the case study to see the crowd that day, you will get an appreciation of Afnan’s dedication to our customers! We all saw history unfolding in a unique way five years ago: the plant, originally called the Mubarak WWTP, then became the Rehabilitation of Zenon Waste Water Treatment Plant, as Ex-President Mubarak’s name was quickly out of fashion. With the election of President el-Sisi in 2014, the plant is now, once again, referred to as the Mubarak WWTP.
Egypt is one of my favorite countries and if you are traveling there, it’s good to know a few Egyptian Arabic words to convey to the local people you meet that you appreciate their culture. In my research for this HeadsUp issue, I found a great resource for just this travel aid, so if you haven’t made it to one of the most fascinating places in the world, put Egypt on your bucket list straight away and start brushing up on a few colloquial phrases to help make your journey even more rewarding.
June 21st is the first day of summer. Why do I bring that up in May? Because summer also means HeadsUp’s Book Review season to spark some ideas for your vacation reading list. Not an avid reader? Honestly, it’s never too late to get started. Reading great literature is not only a way to escape into another world, but according to a study done by social psychologist David Kidd with a colleague from The New School for Social Research in New York, one of reading’s many benefits is that it can help increase your ‘Theory of Mind.”
Theory of Mind (ToM) is of itself interesting – the ability to understand that other people have a mind, too, which may hold different ideas than your own. Scientists also believe that ToM is interconnected with the emotional ability known as empathy. And those who have a stronger developed sense of empathy are 40% more successful than those without it. Some consider empathy to be the number one key to success in any career.
Adding an hour of reading a day can be gained by simply reducing your time on the internet. And this BBC Magazine article not only discusses the science, but also suggests 4 simple tips on how to cultivate a reading habit. Reading a novel has both short and long-term positive effects on your brain. So, give yourself the gift of reading, a more successful career, stronger empathy, increased theory of mind, a brain boost, and relaxation all at once and be ready for next month’s reading suggestion!
We look forward to even smarter, more successful HeadsUp readers next month!
Headworks International Inc.
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Often business collides with history as it did in Egypt in 2014. Learn more
Headworks Bio’s MBBR Installation Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary at Mubarak WWTP in Egypt
Working on this project was fascinating for our company on many levels, particularly as discussions started when President Mubarak was still in power, and the contract was signed in Cairo in an office next to Tahrir Square the day President Morsi was elected. While Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square in celebration of President Mohamed Morsi’s election on the 24th of June 2013, the Vice President and Process Manager of the MENA Region for Headworks BIO Inc., Mr. Afnan Din, was in Cairo finalizing details of the company’s first municipal contract in Egypt.
If you recall the news coverage of that historic day, you can imagine our “man in Cairo” wending his way through the celebrants, some firing off guns into the sky in joy, to an office right on Tahrir Square. Afnan remembers it well and recalls “as noise picked up in the evening people were celebrating out on the streets, I was equally happy to have finalized our first contract in Egypt, a country which I initially visited as a student on a 2-month summer program back in 2000. It was great to be back and part of a new era in providing sustainable wastewater solutions to the ever-growing population demands.”
Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th-4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilization, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanization, organized religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt’s long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman Turkish, and Nubian.
With over 100 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 sq. miles), where the only arable land is found. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centers of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, located on the Mediterranean coast. Its port serves approximately 80% of the country’s imports and exports. As in several similar cities in the region, the continuing growth in population puts pressure on many of its resources, including water for agricultural needs and the ability of existing wastewater treatment plants to keep up with the increase in flows.
In 2002, the government commissioned Membrane Bio Reactors to be installed as part of the treatment process at its wastewater treatment plant formerly known as the Mubarak Wastewater Treatment Plant in Alexandria, which treats up to 4,000 m3/day (over 1 million gallons per day) of sewage. The goal was to take the wastewater generated locally and turn it into water clean enough to reuse in agricultural applications.
After the membrane bioreactor operated successfully for a few years, the plant began to experience problems with regular membrane fouling that demanded high levels of operator attention and maintenance. The membrane system was unable to treat the total incoming flow, and coupled with the operational headaches and mounting maintenance costs, the government choose to take the plant out of service in 2009 rather than incur the cost of membrane replacement.
Given the heavily polluted influent containing rags and solids typically entering treatment networks in this part of world, wastewater treatment processes in these countries require technologies which are particularly robust and can withstand such high physical loads and, equally important, are easy to operate and maintain.
Between 2009 -2012, and after several feasibility studies were undertaken to identify alternative technologies, Headworks BIO® was contacted in an effort to rehabilitate the existing plant. What made the Headworks Bio’s ActiveCell® Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (“MBBR”) process particularly more attractive than other competitive options, is it would fully replace the failed membrane bio reactor with a complete treatment solution requiring minimal additional civil works, no additional reactors and with minimal operational maintenance costs thereafter.
Headworks BIO’s MBBR process was chosen by the client to remove the bulk organic pollutants in the Alexandrian effluent because of its reputation as the most robust, economical, and easy to operate solution available as well as the company’s stellar reputation as a leader in the industry.
“Headworks BIO demonstrated our expertise as a solutions provider throughout the bid process as well as during the execution phase,” explained Afnan Din. “We provided a complete process design, taking into consideration the challenges associated with retrofitting the existing plant and the unique needs of this client. To ensure the process reliability and performance, we provided full commissioning support and complete operator training, as well, which resulting in successful start-up in February 2014.”
The process involved retrofitting the membrane bio reactor tanks with an MBBR system to treat the 4,000 m3/day and converting the remaining volume into a secondary clarifier – avoiding any new construction or additional infrastructure expense.
Headworks Bio Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor
The ActiveCell MBBR process employs millions of proprietary polyethylene biofilm carriers operating in mixed motion within an aerated wastewater treatment basin. Each individual carrier increases process productivity by exponentially adding to the available surface area while additionally providing protected surfaces to support the growth of heterotrophic and autotrophic bacteria within its cells. It is this high-density population of bacteria that achieves high-rate biodegradation within the system, while also offering process reliability and ease of operation.
Some of the key design features for the upgrade included:
Process flow diagram
The treatment plant removes the influent BOD, TSS and ammonia to meet the required effluent target and requires minimal maintenance because each individual piece of media carrier self-maintains an optimum level of productive biofilm.
Headworks Bio Activecell MBBR – Advantages
MBBR wastewater treatment involves a simplified operational system that provides higher removal performance than typical conventional biological wastewater treatment systems. MBBR biological treatment does not require the recirculation of waste activated sludge, resulting in a much easier process to control as it has no requirement for mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS).
With the self-regulating nature of the biofilm on the media carriers, the process allows the system to be operated at significantly higher than average organic loads with less sensitivity to shock loading or temporary spikes in pH. While different process technologies demand a large space to be placed, MBBR wastewater treatment systems are compatible with a small footprint, almost 1/3rd of the space other conventional biological wastewater system processes require such as activated sludge or sequencing batch reactors (also known as SBR).
Self-regulating biofilm – Thicker Self-regulating biofilm – Thinner
A very happy client
At Headworks Bio, even after plant hand over we continue to follow up with regular visits to our customers to provide support as necessary. As we celebrate completing 5 years of successful operation of our first installation in Egypt, Eng. Yosry Rezk Hassan, the Plant Manager explains: “The MBBR process is working extremely well at Mubarak WWTP, it is so easy to operate and maintain. In fact ,there is no maintenance as the media design life is 20 years. Headworks Bio really understood our needs well and provided a solution which could handle the difficult wastewater and produce consistent effluent quality suitable for reuse.”
The final results can be viewed through this video link.
VP Afnan Din (second from left) with the Operation and Maintenance team at Mubarak WWTP
If your municipality, resort, or industrial business is generating wastewater that is tough to treat, has high pollutant and/or solid loads and is a headache you want to just go away, Headworks Bio has the team that can bring you the 4 E’s: effective, efficient, economical, and easy to use solutions. With over 25 years of experience in every type of industry and municipality, our talented process engineers will fix your wastewater problems so that you can focus on your business. Contact our process engineers at email@example.com or call us at +1.713.647.6667 to discuss how we can turn your troubled waters into reusable water.
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Tips to Cultivate the Reading habit
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