Kannan Pasupathiraj – Managing Partner, EcoTec Engineers & Consultants

“Do you know Sequence Batch Reactor and the activated sludge process were researched around the same time during the early 1900s by the same researchers? Yes, Arden and Locket from Manchester Sewage Works, UK, who developed the activated sludge process successfully, also researched on Fill and draw aeration technique using the same basin for wastewater treatment but discontinued the works due to challenges in the operation and control of the reactor even though achieving excellent outlet water quality. Ignored for more than 70 years, SBR technique picked up pace in the 1970s when the technology finally caught up! With the development of reliable microprocessor control systems that were able to monitor and control the SBR system, this technology gained worldwide popularity and is one of the most sought-after technologies for sewage treatment plants.” passionately says Kannan, Managing Partner of EcoTec Engineering & Consultancy from Chennai who is a leading supplier of SBR controller system in India.

1. What’s the story behind EcoTec?

As an environmental engineer, I have extensive experience working in the water and sanitation sector for various international projects. During this time, I was promoted to a management role where I was responsible for partnerships and grants with the International Federation of Red Cross Society (IFRC). However, I eventually decided to shift my focus back to technology and founded my own firm in 2011. Initially, I constructed a fully automated residential STP based on SBR technology, using components sourced from Germany. This served as a proof-of-concept, and I was able to successfully commercialize similar models.

2. What are these components exactly?

We import controllers, compressors, and a few other critical components from Germany. The controllers are essential for maintaining seamless operations of the SBR system. While we continue to purchase controllers from Europe, we have developed our own software that is integrated with the controllers to ensure optimal performance.

SBR Microprocessor Controller

3. What are the other products that EcoTec offers to clients?

We do only sewage treatment plants and we are only specialized in SBR!

4. I’m curious to know why EcoTec has focused exclusively on SBR technology and not explored other wastewater treatment technologies like MBBR and MBR. EcoTec has been successfully operating in the wastewater treatment industry since 2011, so what led to the decision to specialize in SBR?

Many companies provide different technologies for STP in the market but at the same time, there are also a lot of failing STPs in India.  This is also why EcoTech does not want to dilute its focus and is only known to serve SBR technology without failures.  Also, SBR can achieve high levels of nitrification and denitrification without the need for an anoxic tank which is not the case in MBBR and MBR.

5. EcoTec SBR system doesn’t have a mechanical decanter system. Can you elaborate on it?

Yes, we have eliminated the need for a mechanical decanter system in our SBR models replacing it with airlift technology using the same air blower that used to aerate.  This greatly reduces the cost without compromising the outlet quality and is also very efficient.  And not only we do decant with airlift technology, but we also remove sludge.

6. Air Blowers consume the most energy in the whole sewage treatment plant unit operations and when the blower is used for decanting and sludge-removing process via airlift technology, won’t it make the operational cost of the SBR even more expensive than other technologies?

Our maximum capacity of the SBR modules is 500 KLD.  If a 1 hp pump is used for decanting 20000 liters of water it takes up to 2 to 3 hrs whereas a compressor via airlift decants the same amount of water in less than 20 minutes and consumes only 4 kW.  So, in terms of energy consumption dealing with up to 500 KLD plants air lit technology is better and more efficient.

7. EcoTec does SBR STP projects only up to 500 KLD.  Why this limitation?

Our product comes in modules, and we have a very good arrangement with our suppliers and have standardized most of our components up to 500 KLD.  Anything above 500 KLD then it becomes non-standardized with our modules.  This would take a lot of time and resources from our side to do a project above 500 KLD.

8. You also provide 1 KLD SBR STP to the customer which is kind of difficult given a lot of automation it requires. How is it possible?

There are close to around 2 lakh SBR plants globally now which is less than 2 KLD.  Many companies in Europe have developed standardized components for smaller-scale SBR from 0.5 KLD.  Since we also procure our components from Europe we are able to provide a fully automated SBR system starting from 1 KLD. We have already installed 100 1 KLD SBR systems.

9. What are your future plans for EcoTec?

As of now, we sell over 150 plants a year and we wanted to scale it up to 300 SBR systems a year.