On Friday, November 8th I spent the day discovering the world of StarBurst pumps and mixers. StartBurst is a company that is locally owned and their pumps and mixers are locally made in New Castle, Indiana and I was fortunate enough to be able to tour the factory and talk to the fabricators. It took me a little while to understand the concept of the pumps and mixers since there are no actual “moving parts” in either design. However, the lead fabricator, Eric, took his time explaining and showing me how everything went together. His assistant, Phillip just kept on working on filling orders, but was taking his time to make sure quality was his first priority.
I left the shop to meet Sam Kondo, the developer of the StarBurst pumps and mixers. Sam took his time explaining to me about how the pumps and mixers work using the “air bubble”. I must say I learned more about air bubbles than I ever thought was possible (size vs speed vs shape, etc), but it made everything I saw at the factory settle in even more clearly.
Then I toured three different treatment plants to see the mixers and pumps in operation. These installations were put in to assist with maintenance of the facility. As the day continued I found that with a little explanation the uses become endless for most facilities. These mixers or pumps can be operated with either air robbed from an air header from a blower or from an air compressor. What is amazing is that in a very short period these facilities have already seen a reduction in their electric cost, some between 30 to 50% reduction. Many plants have spent funds on energy audits that show the number one expense is the blower or mechanical aeration and by adding a mixer that could happen very easily.
A plant that has diffused air can add mixers in the tanks. Doing this will lower the electric costs of the blower by adding a VFD and reducing the output. In the past if you did this in an aeration basin you would have solids settle and end up with dead spots, etc. By adding the mixer the solids are mixed and the diffusers do just what they were meant to do – provide oxygen for the bacteria. The mixers can help with the mixing of an aerobic digester, allowing for fewer diffusers to add the oxygen for bacteria. If your plant is looking at phosphorous removal or has problems with filaments you may have considered adding an anoxic zone to your system. Well here is a way to do it. The mixers can be added in the front of the aeration tank to provide mixing with little to no added dissolved oxygen and can be accomplished with energy reduction and again no moving parts to create maintenance problems.
The pump is a StarBurst is geyser style pump that can be adjusted as needed and utilizes compressed air. One of the major things that caught my attention was the statement that there is no plugging of the pump. The discharge line might plug, but the pump itself does not plug. What a novel idea for a pump that is lowered in the basin and used to move return, waste activated sludge or raw sewage to not plug.
I must say it was a day well spent and I am looking forward to the next type of pumps and mixers StarBurst is considering and I hope to get in on the ground floor of experimentation.