WWEMA Conference Take-Aways
The annual WWEMA (Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association) Conference, held the last week of March, once again was incredibly informative. The number one issue raised and addressed at the conference centered on getting new technologies accepted by the plant owners in the industry.
This subject is not new. It’s been discussed for several years. Underlying it is the common sentiment that no one wants to be a guinea pig, to be the first to employ a new technology. When new technologies are presented to owners, the first question is predominantly, “Where else is it used?”
WE&RF and LIFT
A program being implemented by WE&RF (Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, a collaboration of 105 companies examining 97 technologies) is seeking to change that. The program is known as LIFT (Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology, www.werf.org/lift), an initiative undertaken by WE&RF and WEF to help bring new water-related technologies to the field more quickly and efficiently. It has several components but chief among them is the technology evaluation program in which municipal and industry end users share the cost of conducting demonstrations of new technologies.
Other components include people and policy, communication, and R&D forum. The four components together seek to speed the process, fund implementation, and give individuals a means to share experiences.
Hydrothermal Processing Example
One example of the program at work is Genifuel, a hydrothermal processing (HTP) technology that converts organic material into biocrude oil, natural gas, or both. This thermochemical process uses water as the medium for reconstituting the organic matter in the medium into simpler compounds using elevated temperatures and pressures. It’s a process particularly well-suited to wastewater treatment plants with their aqueous and high-water-content solid feeds, and it avoids the cost for drying the feeds, as may be the case in other processes.
Other key take-aways from the WWEMA Conference included expectations that private equity funding is becoming more prevalent across the industry and discussion of the proposed cuts to the EPA. The latter, if enacted, could cost 3,200 jobs within the organization.
We have been active WWEMA members for more than a decade, including a Board Director position by OEM Business Development Director Leelon Scott. We have found WWEMA to be an excellent networking forum and source of education, as well as providing valuable expertise to government regulatory committees.