Omar Hammoud is the owner and CEO of technology development specialists APG-Neuros (APGN), based in Quebec, Canada, developers of high-efficiency turbo blowers and complete aeration systems to the water and wastewater treatment market in North and South America, Europe and the Middle East. In addition to being sponsors of WEX Global 2020, Omar will be running a panel discussion entitled ‘Improving Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Treatment’.
Why do you come to WEX Global?
‘We want to meet lots of cities, and consultant engineers as well. APG-Neuros has been coming to WEX for a good many years now, so we know it works in terms of bringing us new business and opportunities. And we need help from WEX to make those crucial appointments. It’s a fast-paced event, and sometimes we’d welcome a five-minute breather between meetings.’
What’s APG-Neuros working on at the moment?
Our new 1350HP single-stage blower has taken the tech market by storm. The first one, installed by the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District in Denver, Colorado, was delivered in December 2019, and went live early in February 2020.
Why is it so special?
It’s the first ever high-efficiency 1MW turbo blower and has gained attention from clients all over the world. Existing systems have been around since the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but this is the biggest turbo-blower with one motor of its kind. It supplies more air with a smaller physical footprint (80% reduction), higher total wire-to-air efficiency (improved by 15-20%), more flexible control (with variable speed and turndown, resulting in less wasted air blown out and electricity used), low maintenance, and quiet operation.
Gas turbine blower operating on natural gas reduces operating costs by more than 40%. When operated with biogas, reduces by more than 80% compared to if it’s being run on electricity. This helps all of the clients who want to be ‘net zero carbon’ to meet their goals.
The Gas Turbine Blower is at the individual testing stage at the moment, and we’re hoping to deliver them in July-August 2020 in the USA.
How do you account for your company’s success?
We’re unique in our industry, and have achieved this by being very strong in engineering, with a team of people – about 80 employees currently, in Canada, the US and UK – who are very good at what they do, including scientists who worked for NASA.
We’ve had very good success in the UK, since starting to do more work there, involving five out of the nine wastewater utilities. We’re looking to further establish a UK company and test facility with test cells present there. Our current UK clients are Welsh Water, Wessex Water, Anglian Water (an involvement that’s been building up since 2014), Thames Water and Severn Trent, with remote installation on the Isle of Man.
What else is new?
On the innovation side, we’re starting ‘intelligent predictive control’, which will predict – using AI – the parameters of control needed to achieve the best efficiency. Big data will be looked at, and this will also lead to cutting costs for our customers.
We’re also offering turnkey solutions to our customers using process analysis. We aim to alleviate our customers’ concerns over the volatility of technology and any associated risks. We’ve enjoyed great success in this area, particularly in Denver – with whole turnkey solutions – and in the UK, where 90% of our clients are using this method.
One way we’ve achieved this is by hiring our own customers: bringing them in to be part of the team – then they can be sure they get the perfect solution! We’ve done this both in the UK and the US.
What about the circular economy?
Our new gas turbine blowers are assisting in this area: by using less energy – especially if using biogas – also makes them independent and less on the power grid. In the future, there will probably be two-way options so they can use the grid if they need to.
And smart tech?
With regard to remote monitoring we’re currently using 3G, but that will become 5G. We have cloud networking security. We already have ‘read’ capabilities, and if we get ‘write’ capabilities, too, we’ll be able to manage our clients’ systems very effectively.
For example in Denver, they made one change and solved the problem. It was so successful that the clients were actually emotional! Denver’s Metro District installed an APGN direct-drive magnetic bearing turbo-blower at their Robert W. Hite Treatment Facility (RWHTF), They described working with APGN as “a unique opportunity to evaluate the performance of this innovative, new technology”. We had to design the blower to be compatible with the current system and facility. We fast-tracked design and manufacturing, and collaborated closely on mechanical, electrical, and control details. The Metro District said in their feedback that they looked forward to the innovative benefits of the new blower, including simplified operation and maintenance, quieter operation, greater turndown, and the potential to be more efficient with regards to electrical power.
What are your biggest challenges?
Reaching large cities to demonstrate the benefits of the 1 MW and the Gas Turbine Blower to retrofit old technology blowers that have been in operation for decades. This will require market education on benefits of the products as well.
Ideally, we’ll need to grow our teams as well, such as building in the UK and getting 20-30 people there. We’re also looking at South America. Investment and working with capital partners. There’s a lot of interest from this side at the moment!