Hepworth flushes inferior sewage down the pan

Growing demand for reclaimed land has thrown the question of sewage disposal into the spotlight. And it’s vacuum technology that is coming up roses. Prime developments such as The Palm simply cannot afford to get the basics wrong.

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By  Eudore Chand Published  December 1, 2003

Growing demand for reclaimed land has thrown the question of sewage disposal into the spotlight. And it’s vacuum technology that is coming up roses. Prime developments such as The Palm simply cannot afford to get the basics wrong: Posh Spice and company pay top dollar to dip into sparkling Jumeirah waters, not a stretch of coastline awash with raw sewage. The trouble is that outdated gravity sewage networks cannot meet the unique challenges posed by Emirates’ geography. “Vacuum sewage systems offer many advantages over traditional gravity sewage networks, particularly where installation of pipe work at depth presents problems such as where rock has been used as fill material, the land is flat or the water table is high,” explains Paul Singh, a graduate engineer from Australia recently appointed to head up Hepworth’s Airvac Vacuum Sewage Systems division. “With the ever-growing trend for building business and residential communities within the Emirates, some of which are on reclaimed land, the need for vacuum sewage systems has risen dramatically,” he adds. Hepworth’s answer to the limitations of gravity is the Airvac system, a solution used across Australia, USA, Europe and the Far East for many years. Maintenance is minimal and the cost of installation can work out to be significantly less than traditional gravity systems. Airvac valves are self-contained and need no external power to operate. Instead, they are activated by pressure changes in the system as the effluent level in the holding tank rises. “As the name suggests, gravity sewers rely on the fall of pipe runs to transport sewage away from the source to the municipal main, necessitating the excavation of deep trenches for the installation of pipe work,” says Singh. “The Airvac Vacuum System, however, uses negative pressure created at a vacuum station and an Airvac valve to control the removal of effluent. Quite simply sewage is discharged from the source to a collection chamber in which an Airvac valve is installed. When a predetermined level in the tank is reached, approximately 40 litres, the valve automatically opens and the negative pressure in the line draws the waste down the sewer pipe to the vacuum collection station at an initial velocity of 4.5 - 5.0 m/s. From there it is pumped to a municipal network or treatment facility.” Another major feature of vacuum systems touted by Hepworth is its ability to contain spillage in the event of a pipe being ruptured. The constant vacuum in the line will contain the waste material and simply suck in air through the fracture. “The Airvac valve is absolutely the heart of this new system, but Hepworth delivers the broader solution,” adds Jim Martin, marketing manager, Hepworth PME. “We also offer a full range of plastic pipes and fittings for the water industry to complement the Airvac system.” The Dubai-based manufacturer oversees vacuum sewage projects from concept, through to design, installation and implementation, co-operating with system operators to provide any technical support that may be necessary.

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