Major Milestone on Ringsend Phosphorous Fixation and Recovery Project

Dublin: February 2022

Murphy Ireland is currently carrying out the construction of the Phosphorous-Recovery (P-Recovery) Facility utilizing Ostara’s Pearl® phosphorus recovery technology. Once complete, the project will enable the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce the phosphorus released in the treated effluent.  The phosphorus recovered can then be processed to produce sustainable fertiliser for use in agriculture. The Project has hit a significant progress milestone, as of January 2022, the building structural steelwork and the 30-ton stainless steel reactor has been landed in position. It is 19.8m in height above the existing ground level, similar to the height of the existing, two tier Secondary Aerobic Reactors.

This milestone allows work to progress on completing the cladding for the building, along with the fitout of internal equipment and pipework. This ensures the project currently remains on programme, despite the challenges presented resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and associated impacts.

Phosphorous is a finite resource, which has real value in agriculture and other sectors, so its recovery in this way will not only help protect the water quality in Dublin Bay but is also in line with the principles of a circular economy and resource recovery.

-Jean Hobbs Irish Water’s Project Manager for the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade.

Project Outline:

The Ringsend WwTP Phosphorous Fixation & Recovery Project is the first of its kind in Ireland and, once installed, will be the largest in Europe by reactor volume. It involves the use of innovative technology to sustainably remove phosphorous from the wastewater being treated at Ringsend WwTP.

The Phosphorous Recovery Facility is being constructed within the confines of the existing Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant. It will operate in tandem with the Aerobic Granular Sludge technology being installed in the wastewater treatment plant to reduce the levels of phosphorous being discharged into the Lower Liffey Estuary. This will safeguard the environment of Dublin Bay, and ensure that the plant operates in compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive standards.

The Project is a key part of the overall plant upgrade and involves the installation of a sustainable phosphorous recovery facility using proprietary technology. Auxiliary works are also required to adapt existing wastewater treatment works on site, to supply the required media to the system and recover the phosphorous.

This project will not only enable the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce the phosphorus released in the treated effluent but will also allow the phosphorus recovered to be processed to produce sustainable fertiliser for use in agriculture.

The Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant, which treats approximately 40% of Ireland’s public wastewater is currently undergoing a substantial upgrade which will deliver, on a phased basis, the capacity to treat the wastewater for a population equivalent of 2.4 million by 2025.

The overall upgrade of the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant will improve the provision of wastewater services and bring the facility in line with the standards of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive using the most sustainable methods available.  

Key Challenges:

Wastewater from Dublin has been treated in Ringsend since 1906. Built in 2005, the current plant is the largest in Ireland and was designed to cater for an equivalent of 1.64 million people.

The Phosphorous Recovery Facility is being built within the confines of the existing Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant. This presents the top challenge for the design and construction team – implementing the works while ensuring there is no disruption to the operation of the plant. Another aim of the project is to make optimal use of the space available. This is achieved by strategic planning around the location of the plant’s internal layout to ensure a systemic install which considers maintenance access at design stage.

Given the specialist equipment involved in this application, the impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU have been notable on the project. The European subsidiary of the technology owner has their headquarters in the UK. As such, sub-suppliers are in both the UK and Mainland Europe (accessible via the UK land bridge). This has impacted lead times and availability of equipment in Ireland, which has required intensive supply chain management to mitigate impacts on the programme.

The Covid-19 Pandemic has been ongoing throughout the project, with varying levels of public exposure. This has presented a challenge to ensure that public health guidelines are effectively implemented to protect the health and wellbeing of our workers.

Project Delivery and Innovations:

Phosphorous is a valuable finite resource and this facility will enable it to be recovered and processed for use as a fertiliser in agriculture. Extracting this finite resource from wastewater treatment is an innovation to bring forward a more sustainable use of part of the wastewater. The technology brings a new means of providing fertilisers to the agricultural industry, making use of elements which may otherwise be discharged in the treated effluent.

The Project represents a major step in Irish Water’s commitment to sustainability and resource recovery in the treatment of wastewater.

The recovery of phosphorous, which has real value in agriculture and other sectors, will also help to protect the water quality in Dublin Bay.

Considering the limited works areas available on site, all elements of the works, where possible, are fabricated off site and brought in ready for installation. Tailored solutions were provided to limit site assembly and attendances, allowing works to be undertaken in controlled, workshop environments, negating the need for onsite welding, or multi-phased installations.

3D modelling has been used to support this process, producing a digital twin of the assemblies showing how they will fit to the current site. This 3D technology was also used while hosting HAZOPs and ALM workshops. This proved to have noteworthy design benefits in engaging stakeholders at design stage and designing out risks at a much earlier stage than previously enabled.

Most remarkable is the impact of the approach to health and safety on the project, with 21,837 hours worked with no reportable incidents.

“This is a hugely exciting project because it has allowed us to push the boundaries on the use of 3D applications in the design, construction and operation of adaptations to an existing plant. We have found some real benefits to this, which we will use in future projects. The application of this technology opens the door to retrofitting existing treatment plants; showing that the waste treatment industry is always open to new, sustainable technology in our mission for more effective and efficient treatment. Moreover, the enthusiasm in the Murphy team and extended project team about using new and sustainable technology has made the journey all the more exciting.” – Patrick Maguire, Senior Project Manager, Murphy Ireland.