Northumbrian Water framework win for Water and Wastewater Treatment Construction and Engineering.

WEW Engineering and Cleantech Civils working together as partners are delighted to announce that we have secured a place for the first time on a Northumbrian Water framework for both the Water and Wastewater Treatment Construction and Engineering Lots.

The applicable Lots are for the Northumbrian Water Operating Area and for the Essex and Suffolk Water Operating Area, each worth £10m to £50m and the work will be carried out over a four-year period.

Northumbrian Water has picked its partner contractors for a four-year AMP7 framework contract worth up to £150m for construction and engineering works on its water and wastewater assets. The framework has been set up to provide additional contractor capacity on Northumbrian’s AMP7 capital works programme being delivered by its main partners.


WEW Engineering is a professional engineering consultancy, focusing on Water, Energy and Wastewater, based in Kilkenny, Ireland. We provide specialist niche Process and MEICA engineering services to the water and wastewater Industry. We focus on understanding our clients’ drivers to deliver efficient, innovative, sustainable, and site-specific solutions.

Tony Mahon, Director WEW Engineering, “This is a fantastic strategic opportunity for the WEW team to provide our expertise in supporting Cleantech Civils with sustainable engineering solutions for Northumbrian Water Group, building relationships, supporting delivery efficiencies, and assisting their ambitious carbon neutrality aims”


Cleantech Civils are a family run company with over 50 years of experience in delivering complex, Civil Engineering and Construction projects for the water and wastewater sector, in line with international quality, safety and environmental standards.

Killian Smith, Director Cleantech Civils, “We are delighted to have secured a place on both Lots to support the efficient delivery of the capital programme for Northumbrian Water and their customers. We are confident that Cleantech Civils in partnership with WEW Engineering will evolve, innovate and add value.”


Our companies combined services and expertise, operating in a collaborative environment look forward to continuing to build on our existing portfolio of water and wastewater projects across the UK and Ireland.

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Green and Sustainable Business Grant Aid and Vouchers.

Enterprise Ireland and IDA’s GreenStart and GreenPlus grant aid programmes offer funding to organisations to assist with starting on the journey of environmental sustainability. The latest sustainable business offer is the new Climate Action Voucher, to enable organisations to prepare a plan for decarbonisation. Services for Green Grant Aid and Climate Voucher can be obtained from approved Enterprise Ireland service providers, WEW Engineering is an approved service provider.

The Irish Climate Action Bill commits to halving greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2030 and to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Scientific evidence shows that we must act now to limit global warming to 1.5°C to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. Irish enterprises have an important role to play in the transition to a climate-neutral economy. This can be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing and promoting greener products and services, leveraging climate action funding, and re-orientating business and work practices. (Climate Action Amendment Bill – DECC, 2021).

The objective of Green Grant Aid and Green Voucher funding is to assist enterprises on the journey to decarbonisation by incorporating sustainable practices, that will ultimately lead to improved resource efficiency, and cost savings by incorporating environmental best practices.

Climate Action Voucher:

The objective of the Climate Action voucher is to help companies prepare a plan for the low carbon, more resource-efficient economy of the future. The Climate Action Voucher is available to eligible companies to access up to 2 days of independent technical or advisory services support related to the current and future operations of their business.


The objective of GreenStart is to improve environmental performance through greater resource efficiency and by reducing cost which includes energy, water and wastewater costs. Projects may vary in scope from implementing a structured environmental management and reporting system to understanding the carbon or environmental footprint of products or services. The aim of the project is to improve the environmental performance of the company thereby increasing the agility and resilience of client companies to climate change impacts. The typical cost of undertaking a GreenStart assignment is €6,300, with the maximum grant funding available from Enterprise Ireland is €5,000.


The objective of a GreenPlus project to develop and implement environmental best practice within the company through learning and training, using environmental improvement tools and techniques, to develop a high level of environmental management capabilities, drive environmental efficiencies and achieve improved sustainability. Enterprise Ireland will provide grant funding for 50% of the eligible project costs up to a maximum of €100,000.

The GreenPlus Programme can assist with the following:

Applying international best practices to achieve ISO Standards: Integrated ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environmental), ISO 14001 (Environmental), ISO 50001 (Energy), Integrated ISO 14001 (Environmental) and OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety).

Reduction in carbon emissions.

Improved resource efficiency.

Process improvements to increase environmental sustainability.

Minimising material and resource costs.

Minimising waste (water, energy, materials).

Co-product recovery.

Utilising environmental best practice.

Please contact WEW Engineering for assistance with your environmental engineering and we assist you with your Green and Carbon reduction strategies and sustainable business strategies.

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Considering an Agri-Anaerobic Digestion Waste to Energy Plant? WEW Engineering is at the forefront in promoting the development and application of Waste to Energy (WtE) projects. We can provide independent initial assessments and feasibility studies to determine the technical and commercial viability of each project.

Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) has a strategic plan to achieve 20% renewable gas on the network by 2030, this will be achieved by supporting anaerobic digestion (AD) with separate initiatives for the agriculture sector and the commercial waste industry sector. GHG emissions from Agriculture represents over 35% of national emissions and are expected to increase further. Ireland needs to sustainably address GHG emissions from agriculture. One way of doing so is by generating energy from agri-anaerobic digestion, it is forecast that Agri-AD can deliver up to 9.8 TWh per annum of renewable gas by 2030. Farming and Agri-Business sectors generate large volumes of readily biodegradable high strength liquid (and solid) wastes, which provide an ideal opportunity for the application of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) technologies, with many advantages including:

  • Biogas Production
  • Biomethane for Gas Grid injection
  • Nutrient-rich by-product (fertiliser)

WEW Engineering specialises in providing cost-effective designs and solutions in the engineering of waste to energy plants such as Anaerobic Digestors (AD), which will reduce your Carbon Footprint and enable commercial sustainability.

Our specialist engineering team will guide you through the process, which comprises several stages, generally as follows:


  • Determine available feedstock potential
  • Calculate potential energy and residuals production
  • Review business case for commercial viability



  • Identify potential options and assess feasibility
  • Available Site(s) and potential advantages
  • Regulatory and Planning requirements
  • Complete economic and environmental analysis
  • Health and Safety standards
  • Assess optimum technology for the project



  • We provide professional engineering inputs into the planning process, including:
  • Prepare outline design and engineering drawings
  • Prepare plant design specifications
  • Prepare technology selection report
  • Provide support and assistance with regulatory bodies



  • On receipt of planning approval, detailed design commences including process, mechanical and electrical, automation and control systems.
  • Our design office utilises AutoCAD intelligent PID and Plant 3D CAD/CAE platforms compatible with BIM requirements in developing designs. This ensures the client is fully engaged in the process, enabling early review and modifications as necessary, based on the 3D models, plans and layouts.
  • We also provide procurement services including specifications and tender documents. Negotiating the optimum equipment costs for specific project purposes from our network of approved vendors and suppliers.



Our services include professional construction supervision, specifically tailored to bioenergy projects.

  • Monitor contract performance
  • Create metrics and reporting tools
  • Communicate progress to stakeholders
  • Review contractors’ documentation
  • Commissioning supervision
  • As-built documentation
  • Plant optimisation services

If you are thinking of Anaerobic Digestion and need professional advice with a waste to energy project, please contact WEW Engineering for a free consultation.

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Circular Economy

By 2050, global consumption of materials such as biomass, fossil fuels, metals and minerals is expected to double, while annual waste generation is projected to increase by 70% (EU, 2020). Valorising waste creates opportunities for import substitution and reinforces the economic benefits of regional supply-chains to Irish companies.


Business In The Community (2019) define the Circular Economy as an economic model that attempts to decouple “economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.” Rather than the traditional, linear “TAKE – MAKE – DISPOSE” model, circular principles seek to recover and preserve the embedded value in materials, components, and products.

Figure 1 Linear versus Circular Economies (Pont, Robles and Gil, 2019)

In 2018, agriculture represented circa. 32.7% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (CIRCULÉIRE, 2020). Implementing circular principles at scale, such as developing bio-based by-products and co-products for secondary raw material markets, offers the Agri-food sector in Ireland an opportunity to reduce the sector’s emissions and resource use.


Ireland is home to over 90 biopharma manufacturing plants, including 14 of the world’s top 15 multinationals (CIRCULÉIRE, 2020). The application of circular principles to this sector is recognised by the European Federation of Pharmaceuticals Industries and Associations (EFPIA) as a significant element to the reduction of the sector’s carbon footprint. Shifting to renewable biomaterials and the reduction of waste through energy recovery are some such circular principles.


On Friday 27th of November, CIRCULÉIRE – Ireland’s first cross-sectoral industry-led innovation network dedicated to accelerating the net-zero carbon circular economy strategy, was launched. CIRCULÉIRE is a public-private partnership co-created by; Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR), the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EIT Climate-KIC. Its foundation also involved twenty-five Industry Members including Wyeth Nutrition, Kerry Group, Coca-Cola, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, DePuy Synthes, Pfizer, Hovione and MSD. CIRCULÉIRE’s initial objective is to source, test, finance and scale circular manufacturing systems, supply chains and circular business models to deliver significant reductions in both CO2 emissions and waste (CIRCULÉIRE, 2020).


One of the main blocks of the European Green Deal – Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth, is The Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP 2.0). In this plan, it is stated that the implementation of circular economy principles will increase the EU’s GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030 while creating 700,000 new jobs (EU, 2020). Business In The Community (2019) state that 60% of Climate Change could be solved with a fully circular economy, it is estimated that currently, the world is only 8% circular. Ireland’s circular material use rate is currently 1.6% which is a long way off the European average of 11.7% (Maguire, 2020).



De Angelis, R. (2018) ‘Sustainable Development, Corporate Sustainability and the Circular Economy’, in De Angelis, R. (ed.) Business Models in the Circular Economy: Concepts, Examples and Theory.

Pont, A., Robles, A. and Gil, J. (2019) ‘e-WASTE: everything an ICT scientist and developer should know.’

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Currently, in Ireland, only a limited number of large financial and publicly listed Irish companies are required to assess and report environmental data under the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive. However, a new bill, being drafted by Senator Lynn Ruane, requiring companies to publish their greenhouse gas emissions will be introduced to the Seanad in early 2021, making it a legal requirement for Irish companies to assess and report their greenhouse gas emissions data on an annual basis (Murray, 2020).

The methodology being proposed for companies to gather their greenhouse gas emissions data would be drawn from an international best practice standard, developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). It breaks down reporting into three scopes:

  •  Scope 1 is direct emissions from company-owned or controlled sources e.g. boilers, vehicles, fugitive emissions.
  •  Scope 2 relates to energy purchased by a company for running its facilities e.g. electricity, gas.
  •  Scope 3 involves emissions from the rest of the company’s supply chains – which can be both upstream and downstream e.g. employee commuting, end-of-life treatment of sold goods (GRI, 2016).


According to Seb McAteer, a parliamentary adviser to Senator Ruane, “The bill would… apply to large companies first i.e., those with more than 250 employees.” In year two, the bill will apply to companies with 150-250 employees and then those with under 150 employees in year three. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are excluded completely.
The bill would also require companies to compare their annual reports with previous reports and account for any changes. In the case of emissions increases, the company would be required to set out the steps needed to ensure significant reductions. This would then provide emissions targets for the following year, with the company required to meet them.
Crucially, the bill will include a set of graduated fines for companies that are deemed not to be making enough progress in efforts to decrease their emissions. The level of the fines would be set relative to the company’s turnover, similar to the way that companies are fined for data breaches under GDPR (Murray, 2020).


At WEW Engineering we can provide:

• Carbon Footprint Reports to reduce energy usage and material usage. The purpose of carbon footprint reporting and audits in an industrial plant is to reduce energy usage and material usage, by determining the optimum design solution and implementing these designs. WEW Engineering can assist with the measuring and reduction of carbon emissions, emitted by each industrial plant or any organisation. Enabling you to commit to carbon reduction as an organisation, confirming commitment to climate change and moving towards carbon neutrality, while also reducing costs.
• Energy Audits: WEW Engineering in association with allied, specialist energy partners provide a focused Energy Auditing Service, formal audit report and recommended modifications to concur with Best Available Techniques (BAT).
• We also provide solutions and recommendations for use at existing water, wastewater, energy, and process plants. Developing and implementing by-product to co-product strategies. Sustainability Audits of existing plants can also be provided as part of our specialist consulting engineering services.


GRI (2016) ‘GRI 305: EMISSIONS 2016’. Global Reporting Initiative |
Murray, D. (2020) ‘Law will oblige companies to declare greenhouse gas emissions’ |

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Electrical Engineering and Industrial Automation

WEW Engineering is delighted to welcome our newest member, Jose Manadan, to our team. Jose is an experienced and highly skilled EICA Engineer, with 12 plus years of experience, 7 years in the Water/Wastewater Industry, in Electrical Engineering and Industrial Automation while based in the Middle East.

Jose has worked in very senior roles on many major international projects around the MENA region, including:

• Rehabilitation and Upgradation of SCADA system for Drinking Water Treatment Plant (Khartoum, Sudan)  2013
• Construction of Drinking Water Treatment Plant for Gambella and Adama Towns (Ethiopia) 2015
• Screening System for Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Project (Abu Dhabi) 2016
• Construction of 4 No. Industrial ETPs for Slaughterhouses (Alain, UAE) 2017
• Rehabilitation and Upgradation of Tertiary Filter System in the Main Sewage Treatment plant (Sharjah, UAE) 2019
• Electrical Instrumentation, Control and Automation of a Biogas Plant, for Al Rawabi Diary (Dubai, UAE) 2020

Jose will contribute greatly to WEW Engineering’s extensive process and engineering capabilities. His key competencies include:

• Design and System Integration of Automation Systems
• Programming, Testing and Commissioning of PLC/HMI’s, VFD’s and SCADA Systems
• Preparation of SLDs, detailed Schematics and Loop Drawings in E-plan Electric
• Preparation/Review of P&ID Drawings, and Functional Design Specifications (FDS)
• HAZOP studies for Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants (WwTP) and Package systems
• Design and Development of Packaged MBR/MBBR/RO Water Treatment Plants
• Testing and Commissioning of PWTP/WWTP/ETP Plants and Package systems


Services Development


Jose’s capabilities and experience enable us to expand our services in the Water Industry to include project and site-specific capabilities in Electrical Engineering and Systems Integration.
In addition to our standard AutoCAD 3D model capabilities which also includes PFD’s, and intelligent P&ID’s we can also now provide:
• Electrical Schematics, Panel Layouts, Loop Diagrams, etc. (E-Plan Electrical CAD)
• Electrical Distribution System Design including Single Line Diagrams (Trace elec-calc 2020)
• Cable sizing & supporting calculations (Trace elec-calc 2020)
• PLC Programming & Network Configuration (Siemens, Simatic, etc.)


Our System Integration services include:

• Development of process/plant specific control philosophies (with our Process Engineers)
• Preparation of URS and FDS Documentation
• Design & Engineering of PLC/HMI Control Systems (hardware & software)
• Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) application & control
• Networking and interfacing, including MCC, VFD’s Remote I/O, Valves, and Instrumentation
• SCADA solutions (including Siemens Telecontrol Modems MS Visual basic and OPC server)
• Configure for energy audit reports and optimized/evolved control philosophies.
• FAT testing and documentation
• Site commissioning and system optimisation


We believe these additional services, coupled with our specialist process and plant design capabilities will be of particular interest to the following sectors:

• General Consultants (with specific water/wastewater project elements)
• Design-Build Engineering Contractors (peak lopping, site/project-specific briefs)
• Industrial Sector, including Pharma, Biopharma, Food, Dairy, Brewing & Distilling
• Bioenergy Plant Developers and end-users (WEW are involved in an R&D Project for Anaerobic Digestor process control optimisation)
• Any/all sites requiring WwTP control system upgrades (reduce operator involvement, reduce energy usage, decrease sludge production, improve plant performance)

If you would like to discuss an upcoming or current project, where we can be of assistance please contact us.

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Water is a precious resource which we all need to survive, and since Roman times Engineers have been designing ways of bringing clean, fresh water to people and removing contaminated water to prevent against the spread of waterborne diseases.
Most people are familiar with the water cycle: water evaporates, forms clouds and rains. The rain then makes its way back to the sea via land, rivers, lakes and aquifers. Humans operate in the middle of this cycle, water is extracted for a wide range of reasons, we usually clean it depending on the extraction point and the intended use. After we use it, we return it to the environment, at this stage it can be considered wastewater. Historically, there was less attention on the quality of the wastewater returned to the environment but has changed with the introduction of the Water Framework Directive in 2000 and the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) in 2010. Since then the EPA and other organisations have been able to introduce more and more legislation which ensures that the wastewater we return to the environment is of a higher standard.

When most people think of wastewater, they think of the septic wastewater from toilets only and wastewater from industry is overlooked, even though most industrial processes will require water for cleaning and/or process water. Many industrial wastewaters have a relatively high polluting potential. For example, a medium-sized distillery could produce wastewater equivalent to 50,000 people, this is referred to as the population equivalent (PE) when comparing the scale of various wastewater treatment plants. The polluting potential of wastewater from industry is often due to a wide range of chemical compounds, all of which have a cost associated with separating them from the clean water. The three main pollutants are various forms of Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Generally, energy and chemicals are used to separate these into the clean water and sludge, sludge has a high concentration of these pollutants and is sent to landfill if it is a chemical sludge or spread on land if it is a safe biological sludge. Before 1999 sludge would have been loaded onto boats and dumped at sea. However; Water, Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus are valuable resources each with their own natural cycle and these intersect during wastewater treatment. Our modern society is trying to move away from the linear model of taking resources out of the ground, using them and discarding them. Instead, efforts are being made to develop a circular economy where water, energy and nutrients can be recovered and reused wherever possible.

Over the past number of years, the Industrial Emissions Directive has been evolving to include lists of recommendations for various sectors, these are known as Best Available Techniques (BAT) conclusions. They include a wide range of measures to ensure better energy efficiency, increased water, energy and nutrient recovery and tighter emissions limits. The EPA Environmental Protection Agency has started phasing in the enforcement of BAT regulations for certain sectors and this will result in many businesses needing to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants.

Our goal is to assist our clients to become BAT compliant or at least develop a roadmap of how they are going to get there. However, in many instances, we advise our clients to go beyond the BAT requirements. Wastewater treatment was previously considered a liability and an unwanted cost in many businesses, but now if the right technology is applied in the right situation wastewater can be considered an asset. For this reason, the term wastewater can be misleading and, in some instances, unfairly derogatory. Using terms like coproducts and by-products help to communicate the value and/or the potential cost savings available from changing how wastewater is managed and treated.

For example, energy can be recovered via heat exchangers or anaerobic digestion where the carbon in wastewater is converted into a biofuel. Phosphorus recovery via enhanced biological phosphorus removal can remove the need for large quantities of certain chemicals and fertiliser products can be developed by struvite precipitation. Other advances include nitrogen removal using advanced instruments to drastically reduce energy requirements. Technologies which would have, at one time, been reserved for high-value processes inside a factory are now being applied to wastewater treatment processes. The costs of these technologies are reducing which helps, but the value of clean water and resource recovery is also increasing. The world has less tolerance for businesses which pollute the environment and more respect for those who businesses who are environmentally friendly and who contribute to the circular economy. An area which our clients are conscious of and actively seek our assistance to achieve their goals, to increase productivity, efficiency and to improve their green credentials. Our engineers provide site-specific solutions to achieve those goals.

WEW Engineering is an independent company with highly skilled and experienced team members. We are consulting and design engineers, and we offer a wide range of services relating to Water, Energy and Wastewater.

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Renewable energy, anaerobic digestion, sustainable development


Global warming, which means the increase of the average global temperature of the Earth’s climate system, has far-reaching negative impacts on the human population and ecosystems and is the biggest challenge to achieving sustainable development. The predicted negative effects of global warming include increased unpredictability of the weather and climate; dramatically increased severity, scale, and frequency of extreme weather events such as storms, heatwaves, droughts, and flooding; melting of ice sheets, which contributes to rising sea-levels; changes to regional climate; food and freshwater availability; and biodiversity loss.


Human activity is the dominant driver for the observed warming in the industrial era, and the largest anthropogenic contributor is the emission of greenhouse gas such as carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels and industry is the largest source of greenhouse gas, accounting for about three-fourths of total global emissions.


Many impacts of global warming have already been observed, such as declines in the Arctic sea ice extent, extreme weather events, and rising sea-levels to name a few. Some of these impacts are also already visible in Ireland: increased number of warm days and decreased number of annual frosty days, increased average annual national rainfall (60mm higher in the period 1981 to 2010 than the period 1961 to 1990), increased river-flow, increased mean annual sea surface temperature (1.0°C higher than that during 1961-1990, as measured at Malin Head, Co. Donegal), a sea-level rise of 1.7cm per decade.


The impacts of global warming can reach levels of irreversibility if global warming exceeds ‘tipping points’, beyond which certain impacts become irreversible even if temperatures are reduced. To avoid some of the irreversible impacts, keeping global warming below 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels is needed, as emphasized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We have to reduce global carbon emissions by 45% from 2010 levels, by 2030 in order to reach the carbon neutrality target by 2050. We only have a limited window to limit global warming to 1.5 °C, which would require rapid and unprecedented changes in all aspects of governments, industries, and societies.

Global Temperature July


EU and Ireland’s effort to curb global warming: the role of renewable energy


The European Union has set binding targets to curb global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  Increasing the use of renewable energy, i.e., energy from renewable sources, is an important part of the package of measures needed to achieve these goals. The European Union is aiming at increasing the share of renewable energy to at least 32% of EU energy use by 2030. Each Member State is required to submit a 10-year National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) to set out its contribution to these targets and how to reach these targets.


According to Ireland’s draft NECP, Ireland can expect renewable energy share of 15.8 – 19.2% by 2030 (without additional measures) and 23.7 – 27.7% with additional measures, which are less than the required target of 31% (results from Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action). The final NECP will be a binding plan and missing the target may lead to fines. On the other hand, Ireland is on track to miss its 2020 renewable energy targets of 16% and ranked 26th out of 28 member states in EU (as of 2019) in terms of its progress towards renewable energy targets. Transformative changes in industries and societies in terms of energy utilization are needed to achieve Ireland’s goals.


Renewable energy from anaerobic digestion


Anaerobic Digestion is a process where several groups of microorganisms breakdown organic non-woody components in the feedstock in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas and digestate. Digestate contains nitrogen and phosphorus and can be used as fertilizer. Biogas mainly consists of methane, the same chemical compound contained in natural gas and can be used directly as fuel for combined heat and power engines or upgraded and injected into the natural gas network. Common feedstocks for anaerobic digestion include wastes such as slurry and manure from cattle, poultry, and pigs, domestic food waste, organic wastes and wastewaters from food and beverage processing industries, and grass and maize, etc 


Anaerobic digestion is a source of renewable energy and can reduce carbon emissions by generating bioenergy from carbon. This can replace fossil fuel with renewable biomethane. Biomethane is a product certified by Gas Networks Ireland with standards equivalent to natural gas for grid injection.  

In addition to the provision of renewable energy, anaerobic digestion also facilitates reduced carbon footprint, greenhouse gas reduction, sustainable waste treatment, nutrient recycling, soil carbon sequestration and CO2 separation for reuse in industry, at a dedicated RenewablCentres. 

There is no shortage of potential indigenous anaerobic digestion feedstock in Ireland: roughly 7 million cattle, 5.2 million sheep, 1.5 million pigs, and 11 million poultry, together with waste arising from crop farming industry and households (as of 2016)It is predicted that carbon emission savings of up to 0.7 Mt CO2e/year by 2030 and 2 Mt CO2e/year by 2050 can be achieved using anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. 

To achieve the aforementioned carbon emission savings, methane production of around 300 million m3 by 2030 and 1200 million m3 by 2050 is required. Assuming each anaerobic digestion plant produces methane at a rate of 11.4 Nm3/hr (0.1 M m3/year)this would require the establishment of around 300 anaerobic digestion plants by 2030 and 1200 by 2050, which could be an achievable goal if we look at the development of anaerobic digestion in other areas of Europe.  


More than 17,400 biogas plants are producing 18,400 million m3 biogas (662 PJ) in Europe (as of 2015), making EU the world leader in biogas electricity production. In the EU, Germany has the highest biogas production of 9,200 million m3  with around 8,000 installations. Biogas productions in other countries are approximately 2,600 million m3 in the UK (500 plants)2,200 million m3 in Italy (1000 plants), and 260 million m3 in Belgium and Poland. Northern Ireland has also seen significant developments in the anaerobic digestion sector: 24 new installations have been commissioned since 2015 and 103 more approved or under construction as of 2017. However, anaerobic digestion in Ireland is under-developed with less than 10 anaerobic digestion plants operating in Ireland, producing 64 million m3 methane (2.3 PJ, 1.5% of natural gas consumption) as of 2015. There is great potential for the development of anaerobic digestion in Ireland, which would require encouraging policies from the government and commitments from the industry. 

AD Plants in Europe & Biogas Energy Production Graphs

Reference: Scarlat, N., Dallemand, J.-F., Fahl, F., 2018. Biogas: Developments and perspectives in Europe. Renewable Energy. 129, 457-472

WEW Engineering’s commitments

WEW Engineering is currently conducting an innovative research and development project aimed at the provision of automatic monitoring and control systems, to optimize the performance and commercial management of integrated unit operations at Renewable Centres. Further research areas include the investigation of the feedstock marketrelevant regulations, and additional aspects relating to anaerobic digestion.  

WEW Engineering is committed to optimise bioenergy recovery and to apply sustainable engineering technology in the interest of climate change, following the recommendations of the Paris agreement. 

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Distilling | Water and Wastewater



The first written record of Irish whiskey dates back to 1405, making it one of Europe’s earliest distilled beverages. In 1608 the first licence to produce whiskey granted at the site that is now the Bushmills Old Distillery in County Antrim and this is where whiskey production became an industry. Since then the popularity of Irish Whiskey has grown around the world.

In 2010, four distilleries were producing around 6 million cases (72 million bottles), compared to 2019, with 31 distilleries operating on the Island of Ireland producing 10.7 million cases (130 million bottles) per annum. This phenomenal growth is expected to continue, investors and developers have pumped resources and finance into the industry in recent years. With this surge in distilleries, investment, and brands exporting their products internationally, the origin and story of the Whiskey is almost as important as the product itself.


This has resulted in old distilleries reopening their doors and new distilleries being built in old buildings such as churches, mill houses, and stable yards for example. Many conversion projects and new builds have opted to include visitor centres to showcase their product and the beautiful settings in which they are located, which often means remote locations without access to main gas, mains water or a sewer network.

A distillery producing 1.5 million litres of pure alcohol (lpa) per annum will have a large water demand. A good option for the cooling water is to use a nearby river or lake for extraction and discharge. For example, a license may be granted to allow the discharge of 1000m3/day with a maximum temperature of 30°C separate to process effluent. During the summer when the water bodies are warmer, cooling becomes more of an issue and some borehole water may have to be used to increase cooling capacity, other options may include cooling towers or chillers. Without a connection to mains water, process water and potable water will usually be sourced from a borehole, the treatment and final quality depends on the application within the process. For example, spirit reduction and boiler feed water need to be treated using a reverse osmosis unit.

spirit reduction and boiler feed water need to be treated using a reverse osmosis unit

All the above unit operations require a large amount of electrical energy. However, the heating energy required on a distillery is greater again, and without a gas mains connection, most distilleries turn to LPG stored onsite and delivered at approximately 40c/l. Therefore, even at 100% efficiency, it would cost around €54,000 to triple distil 1.5million LPA. Good designs and specialist process selections by the Master Distiller may reduce unit energy demand (MJ/l) for the distillation process by up to 33%. Implementing energy-saving measures in a distillery offers an attractive return on investment.


Our Solutions

At WEW Engineering we do not believe in “one size fits all” design solutions and we tailor our designs to individual client needs and site constraints. For example, when considering using a local body of water subsidized with borehole water for cooling stills the following parameters, some of which are dynamic, need to be considered to achieve maximum energy efficiency:

• Temperature of the water body
• Max allowable discharge temperature
• Temperature of borehole water
• Hydraulic head from waterbody to the stills
• Hydraulic head from borehole to the stills
• Borehole yield

For Reverse Osmosis water borehole may not always be the best source if there is a lot of hardness or minerals in the water, this could cause excessive fouling of the RO membranes. One solution is to use rainwater harvesting, as rainwater will not have the same mineral loading. A cost-benefit analysis can be easily carried out to calculate the payback period of the extra Capex versus the savings on membrane fouling. However, solutions like this not only have a financial saving for the distillery, but they also improve the green credentials of the brand, which is very important nowadays. Reducing the litres of water used per LPA or to say the spirit is diluted with 100% Irish rain before bottling, an authentic marketing story which appeals to the target consumer. Sustainability, CO2 reduction, circular economy, water/energy/nutrient reuse, are popular marketing tools in today’s global marketplace.

Distilleries have huge opportunities to reduce their water and carbon footprints, a significant proportion of these be derived from postproduction activities. After each distillation, several by-products remain, spent grain, pot ale, spent lees and wash water. Using the example of the 1.5 million LPA per annum these products have a polluting potential equivalent to 40,000 people. The pot ale alone can have a Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) of up to 50,000mg/l, therefore these products need to be managed correctly. Spent grain and pot ale are frequently sent for animal feed as they have a high calorific value and are high in protein. In this instance the spent lees and wash water will be considered a waste product, it may be possible to send them to sewer if one is available, but the spent lees still have a BOD of up to 2,000mg/l which is higher than most Discharge To Sewer (DTS) licences will allow. An onsite wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) will be required.

Another option which we have designed and implemented in recent years is to retain the pot ale on-site and treat it along with the spent lees and wash water in an anaerobic digester (AD). A digester treating 1,000kg of BOD per day could produce biogas with an equivalent energy value of around 1.2GWh, or €60,000 per year when compared to LPG. If a project were accepted in the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) the distillery would receive an extra €30,000 in grant aid per year for 15 years.

Other benefits of a well-designed AD and WWTP integration is the vast reduction in Excess Sludge (ES) production, up to 75%. Disposal of which can be one of the biggest operational costs associated with an activated sludge plant. WEW Engineering has designed systems which treat distillery effluent (pot ale, spent lees and wash water) in an AD. Downstream of this nitrogen and phosphorus are removed via Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal (EBPR) and concurrent Nitrification/Denitrification in an A2O process to discharge to a water body with BOD, Suspended Solids, Ammonia and Total Phosphorus licence limits of 15mg/l, 15mg/l, 3mg/l and 2mg/l respectively. This design produces a sludge high in nitrogen and phosphorus which will be spread to land to grow barley which will be used to produce more whiskey.


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We produce designs and reports to assist our clients to obtain planning permission, grant aid, and investor support incorporating innovations to maximise energy efficiency, nutrient and energy reuse, which guarantee environmental protection through high-quality effluents. We assess options as client representatives, our experience and non-biased approach allows us to carry out due diligence assessment of equipment, manufacture’s sales claims, and we assist our clients in making the best decisions for their project and sites.

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Sustainability – Climate Change

Pro-action, although late, is urgent to implement climate change policies authenticated by the Paris Agreement (2015) to achieve UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG).
Lead objectives are to comply with ongoing global policies on:
• Carbon Footprint (CF) reduction/ultimate carbon neutrality
• Minimisation of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) production
• Minimise production of ‘Excess solids and liquids’ which offset ergonomic mass balances of nature
• Where possible utilise biology/biochemistry to apply the principles of the overlapping C, N, P and Water cycles
• Minimise imported energy
• Maximise green energy, including bioenergy


Sustainability Cycle

Industrial management and practice require ongoing strategy decisions, concept to conclusion, relating to any combinations of:
• Water
• Wastewater
• Raw solids
• Waste solids
• Outsourced energy; electric or gas





Earlier masterplans were less curtailed in relation to sustainability-related ethics. Emerging initiatives require overriding sustainability to address all the above issues in combination.
Fundamental restrictions relate to carbon, nutrients, by-products (not convertible to co-products) and advanced stage toxin carryovers (pesticides, herbicides, microplastics, etc.) must now be addressed at concept stages.
Most of engineering guide-value norms require an annual audit to ensure fundamentals such as GHG rating, CF rating, risk-averse minimum energy policies, temperature extremes, hydraulic trends/critical peaks, non-sustainable by-products etc are classed as Hazop issues.
Objectives of engineering and management must now aim to apply more biosphere – friendly technologies, make decisions after proper carbon/nutrient audits, conduct R&D into concepts destined to minimise imported energy/CF and convert renewables digestate solids, incinerator ash and retentate TDS into reusable co-products.
This is a major challenge to all engineers, R&D practitioners and industrial leaders with practical responsibility. Proactive new research is vital and field development of this research must follow in a positive in the subsequent short term.
Commercial sustainability allows the cost-conscious application of the above fundamentals. Mutual considerations of rate-of-return and sustainability index may give the optimum answer. CF, water footprint (WF), environmental mass balance, and co-product technology will define engineering ethics in the future.

This is categorised here:
• Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Water Cycles
• Wastes: Solid & Liquid: Recycle/Capture
• Energy potential of renewable feedstocks
• Excess sludges (biological/chemical)
• Soil nutrients, biocide and pesticide level
• Advanced Wastewater Treatment – Re-Use


High Strength Organic Wastewaters


High-strength wastewaters which is herein defined as organic in nature, requiring carbon and nutrient removal to a designated level of quality. The wastewaters result from raw product/final product/co-product carryover in washwater from production systems. Prime sources are food processing, brewing and distilling, soft drinks, agricultural slurries and run-offs, digestion sideflows, landfill leachates pharma-biopharma wastewaters may now be included in this category.

Points of relevance in assessing high-strength wastewaters:
• Concentrations in a volume may relate to organic carbon, nutrients or both.
• The process evaluation should be biased by relative biodegradability, biochemistry and, where relevant, by Biochemical Methane Potential (BMP).
• Typical high-strength wastewaters may vary from 1,000mg/l COD up to 100,000mg/l COD and the nutrient ratios and treatability require inclusion.
• Readily biodegradable COD as an indicator of reaction rate and enzyme/co-enzyme activity.
• Trend curves relating to inhouse production to emission over the periods and phases of production are an advantage.
• Proper pre-conditioning is necessary for all relative assessments.
• Sustainability analysis may be carried on existing plants after a detailed site/process survey including an energy audit.
• Alternative designs should be considered using comparative carbonation (CF Diligence) analysis to identify the optimum solution.



In all cases a confident evaluation of outfall characteristics is essential. This may justify studies which, ideally, should relate to in-house production.
Phased development and versatility of treatment capacity is a required input and a contingency is often desirable for possible change of product specification.
Typical values of high strength wastewaters are noted for reference in Table 1

Source COD TSS             COD/TKN COD/PO4
  Mg/l Mg/l
Milk 3,000 600 18 10
Meat 3,500 2,000 17.5 19
Brewing 5,500 1,000 67 110
Distilling 35,000 1,500 11 175

Note: Values variable with in-house production, scale and solids loading


Conventional v Sustainable

All designs should now aim to apply sustainability design ethics.
This includes:
• Confirm committed design loading trends and performance
• Record the intimate as-constructed works detail, results and operational issues on existing plants and energy audit detail on existing plants
• Gather cost information sources, Capex and Opex
Each application requires a review of viable alternatives to achieve and, on this basis, a framework of projects may be listed for comparative assessment.
To upgrade conventional process/plant technology the basic design is reviewed from energy/modulation, sludge production, stability under varying loading, level of automation, mechanism(s) to minimise ongoing chemical and demand and ease of process control.
Modifications to minimise energy, sludge generation, and chemical usage are leaders in sustainable design. Concepts such as
• Use of biology as an adjunct to biochemistry
• Minimising oxygen demand (SOR) via sequencing and automation.
• Process modification to utilise low DO bacterial performance
• Use of anaerobic digestion for carbon reduction, ideally with resulting bioenergy
• Further prevalence of bacterial cohabitation in sequencing reactors
• Adapt systems for low energy nitrogen removal with minimum carbon requirement
All modifications result in a related cost which requires comparison prior to rating the alternatives. This rating covers the above fundamentals and is tainted at all times by CF reduction guidelines.


Commercial Viability of Sustainable Alternatives


Biologically treatable High strength wastewaters are likely to become more dominant as water use is reduced in production and out of process waters (e.g. cooling, condensates etc.) are recycled at source. This will prioritise minimum-energy mainstream pre-treatment with bio-energy recovery for reuse.
Ideally, the concept should maximise organic carbon pre-treatment/removal by anaerobic digestion of the main effluent load (‘mainstream’) but ensure that the secondary and tertiary stages of treatment will accommodate required nutrient removal.
The following points relate:
• Sludges are reduced to <10% of that from the equivalent aerobic process (EAS) while the reusable nutrients remain in a more concentrated form.
• Aeration energy costs can be reduced from 100% using conventional systems down to 15% – 20% using mainstream pre-treatment.
• The above figures may vary if pre-treatment pre digestion is found necessary. Sustainable reuse of sludges, e.g. fats/oils/greases, so produced may reduce costs earlier incurred.
• Judicious design of downstream polishing to produce desired quality is required.
• On-line control without over-complication from local loops will ensure modulation. This will accommodate the ideal namely to ‘provide biotreatment at irreducible minimum cost’
• An overriding criterion for conclusive consideration is additional cost implications at CAPEX stage versus ongoing potential savings with allowance for implications of BAT and Climate change regulations.


Typical Case Studies’ Cited

Most treatment systems of earlier design did not properly address the conservation of energy or the effect of carbon and allied nutrients on CF.
Sustainability audits will determine the extent and scale of the upgrade desirable and the viable reuse of outdated machinery on the existing site.
Design criteria, operating data, and valuable O&M log reports-site feedback aid the assessment which, in turn, allows updated modifications to process and machinery so that the plant becomes state-of-the art.
For new plants, at masterplanning stages, detailed design requires analytical confirmation of BMP and research on the performance of AD pre-treatment knowing the confirmed equalised feedstock analysis trends.
Installations of this technology confirms that the concept is a proven leader in sustainability technology. The downstream treatment requirement to produce final outfall quality to standard requires case by case judicious selection. Comparative total cost analysis of state-of-the-art versus a conventional all-aerobic system show the major advantages while offering the most sustainable solution in terms of GHG/Climate change.

Typical examples are as follows:

1. Reference Project 1 – Ireland – Dairy Industry


2. Reference Project 2 – Ireland – Distilling


3. Reference Project 3 – Ireland – Fishing Processes



• Practitioners must aspire to emerging fundamentals whereby sustainable practice minimises climate change
• Process design and material selection should aim to reduce carbon footprint (CF) and minimise GHG emission.
• Wastewater designs must show more eco-friendly processes with less reliance on oxygen, external energy and chemicals
• Creation of high strength organic wastewaters with good treatability allows application of anaerobic technology on mainstream flows – so minimising CF and GHG emissions.
• Typical industrial sectors to benefit from this are dairy, meat, distilling, brewing and the wider range of organics, biopharma and organically quantified solids.
• The post AD stages of treatment are an integral part of the sustainable answer if high quality secondary, tertiary or advanced stages of treatment are under consideration.
• The conversion of outdated processes and plants, not now utilising BAT, is a major practical challenge to management and engineering.
• As time and R&D evolves the objectives of low energy/minimum excess sludge and modulated operation is likely to utilise the more sustainable technologies on less concentrated organics.

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