Digital dosing helps save sewers

6 May 2024

University of Queensland researchers have built a new-generation technology of chemical dosing to control the corrosion and odour problems in sewer networks. 
In Australia alone, sewer systems have an estimated asset value of AU$100 billion, representing 70% of the total wastewater services infrastructure. 
Sulfide-induced corrosion can reduce the service life of the infrastructures to just 20% of the designed span. 
Meanwhile, sewer odour nuisance accounts for over 90% of community complaints.
How can we reduce the corrosion and odour from urban water systems? Could we manage them in a smart way? And how can digital technologies contribute to the sustainable protection of urban water infrastructures?
The answer to these questions lies in the research conducted through ARC linkage project “Network-wide sewer odour & corrosion management by model predictive control”.
This project is built upon 10 years of research, funded by the ARC and 17 Australian water industry partners. 
In 2013, the sewer research team at UQ developed the first generation of control method for chemical dosing. However, this method is applicable to a single pipe only. 
ACWEB researchers then developed second-generation technology for sewer protection by controlling chemical dosing with the latest digital technologies. 
The new method is applicable to various sewer networks rather than a single pipe. 
In collaboration with the water partners, researchers demonstrated the world’s first real-time control of chemical dosing in real-world sewer systems for network-wide sulfide mitigation. 
In a sewer catchment in Brisbane, the digital dosing technology improved sulfide mitigation by 84% compared to the default dosing profile. 
Chemical consumption was reduced by 49%, especially avoiding the substantial overdosing that can occur in wet weather conditions. 
Sewer operators can interact with the digital tool and create knowledge fusion with their expertise and learned experience to make the best decisions for the conditions. 
This new digital dosing technology will enable the water industry to achieve safe and efficient wastewater management through sustainable operations.
Founding partners: Australian Research Council, Urban Utilities, City of Gold Coast, SA Water, The University of Queensland.