Water Wiki » The Wiki Blog » Author Interview Series: Ken Hartley

Feb 28 2013

Our Author Interview blog post series puts our 5 questions to some of our most popular IWA authors.

This blog post comes from Ken Hartley, author of the forthcoming title Tuning Biological Nutrient Removal Plants.

We asked Ken to tell us about:

1. Yourself – what are your particular areas of expertise?
Jackie Davis was an old stager in the South Australian Engineering & Water Supply Department.  He stimulated my interest in sewage treatment when he lectured me on the subject at the South Australian Institute of Technology in 1966.  I joined the EWS in 1967 and have specialised in water and sewage treatment processes from 1971 to the present day.  From 1981 to 1997 I worked with consultants GHD, then
9781780404820.jpgspent a year at the Advanced Water Management Centre at the University of Queensland.  For the last fourteen years I have been an independent process consultant, mostly in sewage treatment.

In the 1980's I wrote two small books, both published by my employer, GHD: Operating the Activated Sludge Process and Chemistry of Chlorinated Swimming Pools.  Dan Cortinovis, an operations consultant in San Francisco who also wrote and sold technical books, sold a few thousand of Operating the AS Process in the USA.

I've always been good at finding relationships in data.  For me, graphs illuminate trends while tables camouflage them.  Consequently my new book is filled with graphs; one suggestion for a title was Ken's Big Picture Book.  The book has come about because there is a lack of advice and interest in the tuning aspects of plant operation and I wanted to record and share the many insights I have gained over the years.  For me, tuning is the quintessence of operation and another title contender was The Quintessential Operator.  This suggestion came to the fore during a passionate discussion onsite at the Fernvale sewage treatment plant in southeast Queensland where the real life quintessential operator involved was Steve Tribe.

I'm also fortunate in having a gap in my expertise filled in by Gustaf Olsson who is contributing a practical chapter on tuning of control systems.  This is an area I have found to be poorly understood by plant operators and is critical to plant optimisation.

2.  What you would say is the most unique feature of your book?

Existing books tend to be aimed at overall plant operation and maintenance management with direct process operation covered by standard operating procedures and troubleshooting guidelines.  My book replaces the process operation and troubleshooting component using the philosophy that "tuning transcends troubleshooting" - if the plant processes are continuously monitored, tested, tuned and understood, troubleshooting is superfluous.  Proactive rather than reactive process operation.

In sporting terms, most operational books are about running the sporting club whereas my book is about winning the premiership.  And without buying more expensive players - by getting more out of the players you have (optimisation of both performance and capacity).  For several reasons the actual capacity and performance capabilities of an operating plant are nearly always different from the original design values.  My book is about taking advantage of this unrecognised capability.  In yacht racing or gliding competitions the machines used by the different competitors may be seemingly identical but only a few are consistent winners.  Tuning BNR Plants shows you how to get the most out of your BNR plant.

3. Who would you like to reach with your book? Tell us about your target audience and what you aim to achieve with Tuning Biological Nutrient Removal Plants.The book will interest (a) the senior level of plant operations personnel who have direct responsibility for plant performance, licence compliance and operating costs, (b) plant managers who also have an eye on plant capacity and the need for augmentations, preferably by a series of integral expansions achieved by identifying and overcoming bottlenecks, (c) consultants who provide technical support to operating authorities, (d) designers and contractors who need to understand the learning curves involved in the startup of new or modified facilities, and (e) regulatory authorities who also need to understand the time scales involved in modifying performance.

 4. Your year in events – the conferences you have attended and plan to attend this year, which events inspire you? Which conference do you feel has been/will be most important this year?

I don't have a specific plan at the moment.

 5. Your next project – do you aim to build on the work you did for Tuning Biological Nutrient Removal Plants or work within a different area?

I've long wanted to write a book about Australia's sewage treatment plants.  Their details, their history, their designers and operators, what makes each one special.  A sort of travellers guide.  It would also incorporate overall observations about STPs in Australia, for example the rate of change in technology as shown by this dabble I had some years ago:

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Related Publications

Tuning Biological Nutrient Removal Plants - Ken Hartley 
Publication Date: May 2013 - ISBN - 9781780404820

Benchmarking of Control Strategies for Wastewater Treatment Plants - Krist V Gernaey, Ulf Jeppsson, Peter A Vanrolleghem, John B Copp and Jean-Philippe Steyer
 Publication Date: Sep 2013 - ISBN - 9781843391463

Created by Chloe Parker on 2013/02/28 10:10