This paper reports on the findings of a 12-month study, undertaken at SA Water and supported by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence and UniSA, which set out to explore and develop a new approach to energy benchmark and optimise water recycling systems – so-called 'energy-health' benchmarking. The project also made the first steps toward developing a new suite of energy benchmarks for a range of advanced water recycling processes. Several South Australian recycling schemes were selected to 'road test' the new benchmarking approach, with the results of these investigations presented for two of the case studies.
Following an extensive literature review of specific energy data for a range of recycling processes, preliminary benchmarks for water recycling processes were developed for so-called Guide (50th %ile) and Target (20th %ile) performance values. Detailed process-level energy benchmarking was then undertaken at each of the case study sites using the newly-developed Guide and Target performance benchmarks. Health-based process performance criteria (i.e. pathogen log reduction values) were then integrated into the process benchmarking and optimisation approach to identify optimisation and energy efficiency opportunities at the process level. Overall, the study provides the first known set of indicative energy benchmarks for a range of advanced water recycling processes and has made the first steps toward developing a new approach for the Australian water industry to use in future water recycling process optimisations.