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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 69 / 44
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PoE for solar sludge drying process

Veolia Water Solutions & Technology has adopted Prosoft Technology's industrial radios with PoE for its solar sludge drying process at a treatment facility located in France. The radios are fitted to robots that control part of the process. The result has been faster installation and simpler implementation, together with high security, the required

VEOLIA, A WORLD leader in engineering, building and managing water treatment plants, has enhanced the efficiency of greenhouse solar sludge drying by coupling air drying and aerobic fermentation. Under the effect of solar radiation and the action of an automated window turner (Soliamix), water evaporates from the sludge for subsequent removal from the greenhouse by a powerful air draft. The fermentation step is promoted by regular turning of the sludge windrows - the energy released by the oxidation of organic matter in the sludge accelerates the evaporation process.

Automated sludge drying

At a French treatment facility designed by Veolia (Fig.1), an innovative method was implemented for a common wastewater treatment application involving sludge drying. With typical solar sludge drying processes, once water has been cleaned and decanted, it is often necessary to dry the residual sludge.

Fig. 1: The Veolia solar sludge drying treatment facility uses industrial PoE, greatly simplifying installation.

The Solia solar sludge drying process, proposed by MSE - a Veolia subsidiary - uses an automated turner. The sludge is laid out in windrows, in a greenhouse (Fig.2), to accelerate water evaporation. The operation is automated, and there is no further need to enter the greenhouse to control the robots (Fig.3), which are radio-controlled (wireless). This provides a more robust and also flexible solution compared with the traditional hard-wired approach.

Fig. 2: The Veolia solar sludge drying treatment facility, showing the sludge laid out in windrows within a greenhouse, and the radio-controlled robot (in red).

For the Solia process, the sludge is first treated by a centrifuge and then dried in a greenhouse heated by solar radiation. An automated turner regularly mixes the dried and fresh sludge to optimise drying times.

Fig. 3: The robot works between the sludge windrows using Wi-Fi communication to send data to the control station.

Using Wi-Fi

MSE decided to attach Prosoft Technology's RadioLinx industrial Wi-Fi radios to the robots to enable data to be sent back and forth with the control station. These devices provide the advantages of wireless connection to industrial automation applications - all the while with high reliability.

In this unusual application, the system is ideal, as it can withstand the harsh operating conditions typically found in greenhouses. It also improves the transmission of Ethernet data packets. This allows operators to control the robot remotely, program its movements and know its current position. The robot is fitted with a Wago controller, which interfaces with the Wi-Fi radio.

PoE for easy fitting

With its PoE specification, the power supply and connection of the radio system to the wired Ethernet is via a single cable, which greatly simplifies installation and reduces set-up times. PoE also allows the radio to be installed close to the antenna, reducing the antenna cable loss and, therefore, maximising the range.

The standards set out in IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi), bring an extremely high level of security (802.11i), flexibility and interoperability to industrial automation applications. Originally designed for office and home applications, this technology may show limitations when it comes to industrial protocol transfer, resulting in transmission problems for industrial automation systems (because of the radio transmission method used for Ethernet packets).

However, the system used in this application ensures optimal transfer of data packets using a signal processing algorithm developed by ProSoft. This allows full use of the bandwidth and supports the fast data transmission speeds demanded by industrial automation, even in applications like this.

Another valuable function is that serial encapsulation is supported - serial peripherals can be used and integrated into the main Ethernet architecture of the control system.

The required performance is available for both IEEE 802.11bg (2.4GHz band) and 802.11a (5GHz band) configurations, while a more powerful processor provides faster processing of the data and the signal. This translates to higher data speeds.

The general benefits for 802.11 industrial broadband solutions include 802.11i security with 128 bit AES encryption, Ethernet and serial device connectivity, access point or repeater modes, hazardous location approvals, and also a self-healing network.

The use of such radios provides a costeffective wireless solution for plant and field engineers who often need real-time access to remote or mobile equipment, particularly when the environment is exposed to harsh temperatures, moisture, dust and poor weather, as it is in this application.

Case study supplied by Prosoft Technology

Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 69 / 44
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