MTU Student Develops Environmentally Friendly Automation System for Wastewater Treatment Unit

Timothy Ferris from Kilkenny, who graduated last week from Munster Technological University with a BSc (Hons) in Instrument Engineering, developed and built a new automation system for a wastewater treatment unit as part of his final year project in MTU’s Department of Physical Sciences in conjunction with O’Dwyer Industrial Automation (Tipperary). The innovative system was acquired by OMC Technologies in Limerick where it is currently up and running in full commercial operation and making a positive impact on the environment.

Wastewater is produced when fresh water is used by homes and industries in a number of applications including leaching, flushing, or washing away waste. This wastewater contains various harmful chemicals which have been introduced to the freshwater during these uses. According to Timothy: “Water has been misused for decades, with wastewater ending up in rivers and waterways killing wildlife and fauna and contaminating the water used for human consumption.

The automation solution that I developed for the wastewater treatment unit for my final year project benefits both the client company and the environment by reducing chemical disposal costs and conserving the incoming water for recycling within the facility. Once treated, the industrial wastewater may be safely reused or released to a sanitary sewer or to a surface water in the environment.

It is great to see the unit up and running in OMC Technologies in Limerick and making a positive impact on the environment. I am grateful for the opportunity to carry out this project at O’Dwyer Industrial Automation and for the support received from the company and my supervisor. I was happy to apply the knowledge acquired during the studies at MTU to the practical project.

Timothy’ project supervisor, Dr Svetlana Slepneva, a lecturer in the Dept. of Physical Sciences MTU, said: This industry-led project was carried out at O’Dwyer Industrial Automation’s facility in Tipperary, high-level specialists in turnkey automation & control systems. The automation system was acquired by OMC Technologies in Limerick, which specialises in metalwork fabrication for biomedical, pharma, and other industry sectors.

The unit cleans water used in various manufacturing stages of metal processing and it is fantastic to see that, even at the beginning of their career, our student’s work has such a positive impact on the region’s economy and environment. Our department of Physical Sciences has a long and successful history of working closely with local, national and international companies and our graduates become sought-after specialists of whom we are very proud.

The project was a great opportunity for Tim to work in the business, gain hands-on experience in a commercial environment and be supervised by high-quality specialists of O’Dwyers Industrial Automation.

Sean O’Grady, Project Manager and R&D Lead at OMC, said:

Steel industry is an important economic sector in Ireland, but its operation entails substantial environmental impact. Wastewater treatment is a challenging technological issue, related to the environmental performance of industry. Businesses today are striving to meet high environmental and social standards and be more sustainable. One of the most difficult tasks is the complex analysis of technological processes and the search for tailor-made solutions.

This task is very demanding for high level professionals. The technology used previously involved less effective and costly method of transporting polluted waters to the plant’s central water treatment facilities. The new equipment will significantly improve the environmental performance. In particular, it will allow the use of the equipment where it is most needed – at the site of the discharge of the polluted water.

Timothy’s industrial supervisor, Brendan O’Dwyer, Head of O’Dwyer Industrial Automation, said:

Our company specialises in turnkey automation and control solutions, always considering sustainability and minimising environmental impact. An important part of our mission is to help train a new cohort of specialists to contribute to the development of the Irish economy. In his project, Timothy Ferris carried out an in-depth analysis of all technological options available, and with this information and supervision from my team he designed a turnkey automation solution for my client. We are delighted to commend Timothy on his efforts.

Dr Liam Ryan, Technology Provider said:

Processes like these are complicated in their nature, for them to work we must use the most up-to-date automation as well as intelligent/adaptable control solutions available, the fact that Timothy put in such an effort, was great to see and he was instrumental to the successful delivery of this project. The system is in full commercial operation now and the experience he gained should serve him well in the future.