The spin-off of the Braunschweig-based machine manufacturer BMA adapts new approaches in wastewater treatment with innovative technology. Managing director Dr. Jochen Gaßmann explains its advantages and the niche his company has occupied.
Mr. Gaßmann, what exactly is awama doing?
Gaßmann: We have two divisions, which we took over from our parent company BMA Braunschweigische Maschinenbauanstalt AG. One is about so-called steam processes for wastewater treatment plants. This is a rather complex subject, in which we take a holistic view of wastewater processes from the point of view of thermal process engineering and rethink them from the viewpoints of steam utilisation, CO2 savings, phosphorus recycling and resource efficiency. We do this mainly together with our partner university TU Clausthal. This involves a lot of engineering but also mechanical and plant engineering. In some cases, we install them on our own as well. However, it is basically about interpreting, balancing, planning and drawing and then implementing together with a mechanical engineer.
In 2010, we had already considered using a steam dryer used by BMA in the sugar industry for seawater desalination. I had seen that seawater can be desalinated with the thermal discharge from the sewage sludge dryer. The temperature level fits – only the scale does not. Far too much seawater is desalinated than energy can be gained by drying sewage sludge. Professor Michael Sievers from Clausthal University of Technology then pointed out to us that with this steam dryer we can rethink the entire wastewater treatment process using thermal instead of just biological and physical/chemical processes. That was a Eureka effect. The “ Dampfprozess DryD” was born.
The second business area is a plant for automation, savings, and optimization in the use of polymeric synthetic flocculants for wastewater and sludge. These agents are used in large quantities in dewatering, flotation and sedimentation and are certainly hazardous to water. We have developed a process together with Professor Sievers from Clausthal University of Technology that enables us to save 25 to 35 percent of these polymers. This has both a financial and an operational effect for the sewage treatment plants, because the whole process is automated. And it has an impact on the dry substance which means that the wastewater treatment plant saves on disposal.
In both areas there are no direct competitors known to us. At the same time, we are working on modifications of the technology in order to promote digitization in the entire dewatering technology in the field of sewage treatment plants and in sewage treatment in general. We have reference plants that have been running for more than three years. It is a niche, but a very new niche.
In which markets are you already active and which new ones would be of interest for you? What does international business mean to you?
Gaßmann: First of all, we take a look at the German and the European market. In Germany we already have 2,500 applications for one technology and about 500 to 600 for the other. But of course, our technologies are of interest to all sewage treatment plants and wastewater facilities worldwide. The market potential currently exceeds our possibilities, so we had to focus first, but at the same time we have a worldwide network with sales and distribution through BMA.
We have already established contacts in Tunisia, Turkey and New Zealand. If we can find multipliers and distributors who can bring our technology together with us to other markets, this will help us in the medium term.
So first of all we are expanding our network, picking the “low hanging fruits”, building up a reference list and refining the technology.
Which topics and working groups are interesting for you?
Gaßmann: We are particularly interested in the working group on industrial water management. We could adopt its topics and contents 1:1 for our advertising brochure and with our products they fit like a glove – we recycle reusable materials, we optimise the consumption of motive power, we automate, we save.
Apart from that, the working group on innovations and scientific cooperations are interesting for us because we still see opportunities in development and funding for one or the other subcomponent, and the working group on water and energy.
What do you expect from GWP and the network?
Gaßmann: We have already got in contact with other members. The international idea is very important to us, we want to be the reference in the field of flocculation and conditioning technology of wastewater. GWP is attractive for us in order to become known for building up a network, to benefit from the experiences of other members and to find synergies – and because the association with its members fits well to us.
We are particularly looking forward to participating in the GWP joint stand at IFAT.