Q&A: APG-Neuros and Turbo Blower Technology
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Mr. Omar Hammoud, the CEO and President of APG-Neuros.
Lakota WWTP, Lakehaven Utility District, WA
High energy consumption and limited and inefficient operation
Lakota WWTP, WA, secured an Energy Conservation Grant to replace Positive Displacement Roots blowers with a more energy efficient APG-Neuros Turbo Blower that reduced power consumption by 50%.
Like many wastewater treatment plants across the country today facing high energy costs and aging equipment, the Lakota Wastewater Treatment Plant sought options to address their challenges while moving towards a more environmentally conscious operation. The plant was equipped with two Positive Displacement Roots blowers (250 HP and 350 HP) used to supply air to the biological secondary treatment process. In service for almost 17 years, the 250 HP blowers were noisy and inefficient, consuming a lot of energy to meet plant’s air and pressure requirements. Due to its operational inflexibility, the 250 HP blower was unable to meet the low pressure aeration flow requirements of the plant, obliging the plant operator to turn on the second 350 HP blower, resulting in additional power consumption.
Positive Displacement Blower
In 2008, the Lakota WWTP replaced the 250 HP P.D. blower with APG-Neuros’ 300 HP turbo blower. The blower replacement project was eligible for an Energy Grant from Puget Sound Energy (PSE). With APG-Neuros’ help, after thorough review of the estimated energy savings, and PSE agreed to finance 70% of the project capital cost, providing grant funds of over $156,00.
Replaced Positive Displacement Blower
The APG-Neuros turbo blower saved the WWTP over $86,000 per year in power consumption (at 7.5 cents/kWh), which resulted in a payback period of 1.3 years (with grant funding from PSE). In addition to the energy savings, the turbo blower reduced the power demand by 1380 kWh/yr. The NX300 is able to supply all of the plant’s low pressure process aeration requirements that eliminate the need to run the 350 HP P.D. blower. Reducing operation from 2 units (250 HP and 350 HP) to one unit (NX300), demonstrates the operational flexibly with variable flow and variable pressure requirements. The plant PLC communicates with the blower’s built-in PLC to control its speed, to maintain a pressure set point, and adjust flow, set point corresponding to the varying water depths and pressures. The plant PLC monitors the D.O. levels in each basin, regulating the motorized valves on supply headers to each section of tanks as needed, adjusting air flow to maintain the D.O. set points. The APG-Neuros Turbo Blower provided an exceptional reliability with availability level exceeding 99.8% over four years and 35,000 operating hours.
New APG-Neuros Turbo Blower
Good afternoon. How and when was APG-Neuros founded?
Good afternoon. APG-Neuros was founded in 2006 in Quebec as a result of seeing an opportunity for innovation in the North American blower market. Our mission is to distribute, manufacture, provide aftermarket support and continued development of high-efficiency turbo blowers and complete Aeration Systems for the municipal and industrial markets in North America and Europe.
APG-Neuros is a joint company between my other company, Aviation and Power Group (APG), and Neuros Company LTD. The company’s recently completed headquarters/production facility is located in Blainville, Quebec, with another production facility that serves the US market in Plattsburgh, New York.
Where does your experience with turbo blowers come from?
APG-Neuros’ turbo blower technology was founded in the aerospace and defense industry where aero engines were used in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and in the F-16 military aviation program, making the technology tested and reliable. The core of the technology is the bump foil air bearing which is oil-free and non-contact, needing no lubrication or associated maintenance thereby resulting in lower vibration from the rotor during operation. Its’ proven durability and endurance have been demonstrated through 25,000 starts; equivalent to more than twenty years lifetime in a typical operation!
Please describe the market’s acceptance of turbo blowers.
Numbers are sometimes the best way to describe a market’s acceptance of a new innovation. We grew from one turbo blower unit in 2006 to now having over 700 units installed in the U.S. and Canada. Most of our installations (85%) are in the U.S. and Canada, with seven percent in Mexico and eight percent in Europe.
Blower distributors need to sell high quality and high value products. Instead of allowing contractors to focus on a lump-sum price for a project, they must teach them to take advantage of higher technology with lower lifecycle costs. Distributors have to do the groundwork to educate the consulting engineers and end users so they will focus on the best solutions.
We have worked very hard with our North American distributors, to transform the market through education. Over time, design engineers and wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) have modified their specifications to focus on quality and lifecycle costs of a blower aeration system. We believe that today ninety percent of specifications now focus on these two major factors.
We have distributors covering North America (U.S. and Canada). Our distributors came from large companies willing to chang to work with a new product that added significance and value to their current product offerings. Thanks to our mutual efforts, APG-Neuros has established a strong brand name.
What are the primary customer benefits of a turbo blower?
The High Efficiency Turbo Blower is a “plug and play” product that’s ready to use at the point of delivery with a very quick and easy installation. Everything is pre-assembled and pre-integrated inside the unit in a rigid and hermetic enclosure. Our unit has a 25% smaller footprint than conventional blowers, and can be installed outdoors under a protective shelter in the most extreme climate, both hot and cold. They are also equipped with an easy to operate touch screen (PLC) for easy control, monitoring and diagnostics on the process parameters and blower conditions.
Finally, the turbo blower is an efficient, oil-free and environmentally sustainable product providing end users with significant reductions in operating costs through energy savings of up to 40% (according to a third party study) and low installation and maintenance costs – only air filters need periodical cleaning or changing. Other important benefits include much lower noise and vibration, durability, and reliability.
The turbo blowers are designed to provide up to 20,000 SCFM with a pressure able to reach 15 psig according to the capacity of the engine from 30 to 600 HP. The “Dual Core” units, NX400 to NX700 (700HP) produce 3,000 to 20,000 SCFM with two turbo blower cores operating within the same enclosure. This makes it possible to considerably reduce the space footprint compared to the conventional technologies.
Please describe your emphasis on quality.
Quality is critical because, without it, lower lifecycle costs cannot be achieved by the WWTP. Leveraging our experience with military aviation, APG-Neuros believes third-party controls are necessary to ensure quality. We worked with CSA and with UL to create standards to certify blowers. The UL witness-tested the energy efficiency of our turbo blowers. We can also provide the CE mark complying with the CE Machinery Directive in Europe. Today, every product leaving our facility has both CSA and UL marks on it. Consulting engineers can take advantage of this.
Each certification had a project team that took 2 ½ years to complete the requirements. Our facilities have state-of-the art testing facilities. These investments support our quality claims and allow consulting engineers to take advantage of our lower lifecycle costs.
Speaking of testing, what do you think of the new ASME and CAGI blower standards coming out?
ASME PTC 13 and ISO 3859 Annex G will have a very positive impact on quality and lower lifecycle costs for wastewater treatment plants. AP-Neuros is a member of working committees for both standards and is a strong supporter of both standards. We have contributed our knowledge and experience with turbo blowers as we have been pioneers in the development of turbo blower package test procedure. We are doing the final verifications right now on turbo blower test procedures for the ASME standard.
Thank you for your time.
NAPA Valley Sanitation District, CA WWTP
Inefficient Operation & Turndown
NAPA Sanitation District’s consultant QuEST and Herwitt Engineering conducted a study on replacing the plant’s Multistage Centrifugal blowers to address their inefficient operation, operational inflexibility and high energy consumption. Following the recommendation of the study, NAPA Sanitation District replaced their existing blowers with the High Efficiency turbo blowers which helped them secure a rebate by CalPOP.
APG-Neuros Turbo Blower and PD Blower side-by-side
Although the peak efficiency of the multistage centrifugal blowers that the plant was equipped with was rated at 74% at their design point, the actual annual flows of the plant required the plant operators to blow off excess air to meet turndown requirements, significantly lowering the efficiency of the blowers. Furthermore, although the average annual flow was around 8 MGD, the peak wet weather flows reached up to 32 MGD. The existing multistage blowers were rated for peak flow conditions, resulting in wasted air during typical operation. Wasted air = wasted energy.
Herwitt Engineering and the district’s consultant QuEST evaluated nine months of historical plant operation data to determine potential energy saving alternatives for the Soscol Water Recycling Facility, for Napa Sanitation District. In 2008, the final audit report recommended to replace two of the existing aeration 350 HP multistage centrifugal blowers with higher efficiency Turbo Blowers. The report studied various options for the plant’s blower replacement in order to achieve energy savings. QuEST estimated that installing high efficiency turbo blowers in place of the multistage ones would result in annual energy savings of $114,251. The agency also evaluated the option of replacing the existing blowers with a new positive displacement (P.D.) blower equipped with a VFD to allow for a more flexible operation.
Finally, the report concluded that the turbo blower would offer almost twice the energy savings than the proposed P.D. blower at $62,318 in annual savings. Although the P.D. initially offered a lower capital cost alternative, the net capital investment for the Turbo Blower could be recovered in less than two years due to the difference in energy savings. Moreover, the savings on maintenance, system reliability, and quiet operation confirmed the turbo blower would be the best choice for the plant to maximize overall system efficiency. The district decided to move forward with replacing their multistage blowers with a high efficiency turbo blower and were rewarded a rebate by CalPOP of approximately $110,000.
NAPA Sanitation District followed the evaluated bid process to select and procure their new turbo blowers. This innovative bid process allowed the district to receive competitive bids and make their selection based on evaluation factors. The evaluation committee recommended the selection of APG-Neuros’ turbo blowers based on overall value that took into account the higher energy savings, quality of construction and local support.
Aeration Basins at NAPA Sanitation District
In September 2008, the existing multistage centrifugal blowers were replaced with the APG-Neuros high efficiency blowers, immediately reducing the input power by 50HP. The NX300-C080 blowers were designed to meet the plant’s annual flow range and to optimize the blower’s performance to maximize energy savings. The turbo blowers have been in operation since, with the only scheduled maintenance of changing the intake filters as needed. The facility is saving well over one hundred thousand dollars a year from the reduction in energy consumption, labor hours and spare parts.
The benefits from retrofits of conventional blowers such as at Napa Sanitation District, not only lower energy bills, reduce noise, and reduce maintenance requirements, but also contribute to a larger environmental cause: reduce greenhouse gas emissions, demand on electric utility systems, and dependence on oil.
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