Pneumatics & Hydraulics

Saving energy with pneumatics in water treatment

July 2014 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

Festo is working with water and wastewater treatment companies across the globe, using pneumatic automation technology to provide an energy-efficient solution for new and old treatment plants. The equipment supplied is from the process valve to scada visualisation of the plant, as a complete solution.

A key target for many water and wastewater treatment plants is that of reducing the electricity consumption. Saint Petersburg resolved to implement a programme to increase the energy efficiency of the drinking water supply for its southern areas and has invested 2,6 billion roubles (around R760 million) over a period of three years. South African municipalities are similarly challenged to upgrade their water infrastructure using energy efficient solutions.

Pneumatic vs electric drives

Until now, electric drives were the first choice for Russia’s water treatment plants, for opening and closing the inlets and outlets of sand-bed filters or in pumping stations. In St. Petersburg, the use of only electric drives would have meant an installed load of 75 kW. The plant could not have provided this without extending the electrical infrastructure. A pneumatic system with actuators, including two air compressors, required an installed load of only 10 kW.

As the power grid in South Africa is increasingly under pressure, it makes sense that a similar solution would be of benefit to local water treatment plants. Festo can supply ready to install valve assemblies consisting of butterfly, ball or knifegate valves with actuators and sensor boxes, as well as control cabinets with valve terminals, pressure and flow sensors and service units from Festo’s MS series. By sourcing all the pneumatic automation equipment from the same supplier, there are fewer problems during operation and maintenance of the plant.

Integrated control and monitoring solution

As the most modern water treatment plant in Russia, the plant at St. Petersburg was also equipped with a central control system at the process management level which allows comprehensive monitoring of the water treatment process. The control system gathers current data and compares this continuously with defined setpoints. The Festo automation technology is fully integrated into this monitoring process and uses sensor signals to supply up to date information on the operating status of individual plant sections.

Beyond the supply of top quality drinking water, the pneumatic automation technology installed in St. Petersburg’s plant, also allowed the water utility company to achieve a quantum leap in energy efficiency. This same technology has been installed at several plants locally, including Meulwater and Preekstoel in the Western Cape, offering the same benefits as those enjoyed by customers around the world.

For more information contact Tracey Swart, Festo, 08600 FESTO,,


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