What are today’s best opportunities for reducing the environmental impact of pumping systems? That’s the question Stephanie Smith asked Xylem’s expert engineers when she started her role as Director of Global Product Sustainability. Here’s what she learned.
“When trying to reduce the environmental impact of pumping systems, most people start with the efficiency of the pump itself,” Smith says. “Pump efficiency includes both how efficiently a pump can move fluid, based on its design and other properties, and the efficiency of the pump’s motor. A low-efficiency pump may initially cost less, but it can increase your costs and environmental impact over time through more energy use and maintenance.”
Xylem’s Flygt N-pumps, for example, are designed with a self-cleaning impeller that prevents clogging, which can reduce the pumps energy use by 25%.
Reducing energy with variable frequency drives
After improving pump efficiency, the next step towards sustainability is to control how and when pumps operate. This is accomplished through variable frequency drives (VFDs). Instead of a pump simply being on or off, a VFD controls the pump’s motor speed based on actual demand.
“A VFD can significantly reduce the overall energy needed to pump the same volume of water,” Smith says. “Xylem has been a leader in integrating VFDs into pumps, as with the 2016 launch of the Flygt Concertor. Beyond the VFD, the Concertor is also the world’s first wastewater pumping system with integrated intelligence. Installations around the world have shown that in some scenarios the Flygt Concertor can reduce energy use by 70% compared to conventional systems.
Intelligently coordinating how pumps operate
The next step towards sustainability, especially reducing energy use and thereby GHG emissions, is for water operators to coordinate how pumps are used within entire systems. Xylem Vue is a suite of digital solutions that enables this.
“Xylem Vue can enable real-time data to drive the entire pumping and distribution system,” she says. “With Xylem Vue, water operators get system-wide visibility and actionable insights, which is really powerful.”
A major wastewater utility in Europe, for example, recently used a Xylem Vue solution to solve a cavitation issue at one of its pumping stations for treated sewage water. Changing ocean tides and treatment outputs made it difficult for operators to set the right pump control strategy. The Xylem Vue solution determined the optimal operating parameters, which resulted in significant OpEx and CapEx savings.
“When water operators combine efficient pumps with system-wide intelligence, they can achieve enormous sustainability benefits across their operations,” Smith says. “By reducing energy consumption, they reduce costs, which is a big consideration. They also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase product lifetime, and require less maintenance.”
As Director of Global Product Sustainability, Smith is proud of the role Xylem plays in partnering with customers to find the best and most sustainable solutions with them.
“I think the real value we’re bringing is the ability to be a partner with our customers and not just a supplier, that’s what makes Xylem really unique,” she says. “We’re giving you a complete solution – the pumps, the digital solutions, and our expertise. We’re going to help you do your job better.”
Learn more about Xylem Vue, our suite of digital solutions that combines smart and connected technologies, intelligent systems and services, and 100+ years of problem-solving expertise.