Optimal management of corrosion and odour problems in sewer systems

ARC Linkage (2008-2013): Prof Zhiquo Yuan, Prof Jurg Keller, Prof Rob Melchers,Prof Richard Stuetz, Dr Phil Bond, Assoc Prof Anna Hertz, Jay Witherspoon, Prof Verstraete, Prof Peter Vanrolleghem, Dr Steyer, Dr Heri Bustamante, Prof Mel Suffet  (LP0882016)

Project funding: $4,656,000

The Sewer Corrosion and Odour Research (SCORe) project is a 5 year research program  that was formulated jointly by Australian water utilities and their research partners (University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle and University of Sydney) to provide knowledge and technologies to enhance the management of corrosion and odours in sewer systems. This large collaborative project includes world leading researchers from 5 Australian and 4 major North American and European universities and 11 industry partners with 8 major Australian water utilities participating.

The overall aim of the SCORe project is to develop a thorough understanding of all processes leading to odour and corrosion in sewers, along with efficient methods of control. There will be a large focus on the optimization and characterization of existing technologies, as well as development of effective novel solutions. This will be achieved by running four streams of research in parallel involving ten sub-projects (SP): corrosion processes (SP1A, SP1B & 2), gas-phase technologies (SP3 & 4), liquid-phase technologies (SP5, 6, & 7), and decision support and knowledge management (SP8 & 9).

Sub-project 3 (UNSW): Odour Measurement and Assessment

The Sub-project 3 objective is to enhance the selection, design and operation of odour abatement processes used in sewer networks. This will serve to reduce the number of odour complaints from the local population, improve customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance, and reduce operational costs for odour abatement processes.

Through benchmarking sampling and analytical methods, the project will improve our ability to characterise the mixture of gases associated with different types of odours. Applying these techniques over an intensive 2.5 year monitoring program (assessing 20 sewer sites and 18 odour abatement processes across Sydney, Melbourne and Perth) will generate a unique database of odour emissions from sewers, and of odour abatement process performance. This data will be used to provide insights into the composition of odorants being emitted from sewer systems and the removal performance of different odour abatement technologies in order to improve the selection and design of odour treatment systems. 

Additional laboratory based studies are being run to investigate the performance of activated carbon commonly used in odour abatement processes to develop an understanding of its ability to remove the wide range of compounds present in sewer odours, and improve abatement performance by allowing better matching of activated carbon type with the specific odour being treated.

While the research program is specifically directed towards sewer networks, the developed methodologies, and understanding gained into the selection and design of odour abatement processes will benefit a wide range of industries throughout Australia and internationally.