SPS and Suez Cooperate to Deliver Clean Water Under Challenging Conditions for Italian Fertilizer Manufacturer

17 Apr 2018

A modular treatment solution was developed by SPS in collaboration with Suez for Yara Italia, providing clean water from a highly variable natural source.


Working closely with Suez Water Technologies & Solutions (formerly GE Water), Monmouth based Siltbuster Process Solutions has just successfully completed a project to provide up to 540m3/hr of clarified water for Suez’s Build-Own-Operate plant at Yara Italia’s production facility in Ferrara, Italy.


The site is located in the heart of the Po valley and is the market leader producing ammonia and urea fertilizers for agriculture and industry. Suez is contracted to provide the site with demineralized water for the manufacturing process, abstracting raw water from the river Po.


SPS were called in to relieve pressure on Yara’s existing clarifier, which was already treating approximately 1000m3/hr, and more importantly, to provide a dedicated, higher quality water supply.


The early stages of the project were particularly challenging for all parties, as it became apparent that the characteristics of the raw water varied significantly, sometimes within a matter of a few hours. SPS’s Industrial sector manager Clwyd Jones comments: “This proved to be a challenging project since the water characteristics were not as originally envisaged, but by working in partnership with our client, we have been able to bring the project to a successful conclusion”.


SPS’s Technical Manager Dr Chris Bullen explains further: “The river water turbidity can range from less than 20NTU to over 3000NTU within a short period of time. This, coupled with seasonal changes to the characteristics of particulates in the water, added to the challenge of coming up with a robust solution.”


It became clear that a pilot trial was required in order to arrive at the correct long term solution.  This was achieved by deploying one of Siltbuster’s mobile lamella clarifier units, complete with integrated coagulation / flocculation tanks. It was essential that the pilot unit remained on site for long enough to capture the variable conditions, and during this period, it was operated by Suez’s dedicated site team led by Fabio Armanna, with technical support provided by SPS.


The trial concluded that satisfactory water quality (less than 5NTU) could be reliably and consistently achieved, under highly variable conditions, off lamella clarifiers. The trials also confirmed that incorporating a means of recirculating settled solids from the bottom of the clarifier hopper back into the mixed reaction tank to combine with the feed water improved the stability of the process and quality of treated water.


Chris explains: “The findings of this piloting work enabled us to confirm the design of the full-scale process, which required three process streams, each with a mixed chemical reaction tank carefully coupled with a Siltbuster HB200R Lamella Clarifier. The design also needed to comply with stringent structural design requirements in order to comply with the Regulatory Authorities’ requirements for the Seismic Area. The strength of the partnership approach meant that Suez’s local project team led by Maurizio Colombo were able to use Siltbuster’s design drawings to liaise with the Italian Authorities regarding these aspects, in order to secure the necessary approvals.”


Installing the SPS modular treatment systems was an excellent example of co-operation with a real joint effort from all parties, including Suez’s local sub-contractors. Process commissioning was completed in December 2017, with the treated water achieving less than 3NTU. Suez’s site team have also identified that the downstream treatment processes are already benefiting from the improved water quality.


Reflecting on the project Clwyd Jones comments: “Both parties worked openly and constructively together with the single objective of delivering the right solution for the ultimate client, Yara. Both GE Water and Suez were  long-standing and much valued clients for Siltbuster, so we are excited to see the new entity take shape and are looking forward to continuing to support Suez with its many and varied projects both in the UK and further afield.”