Field: Water and wastewater treatment
Global Technical function: Responsible purchasing
Technical Function Unit: Procurement of eco-innovation
Geographic Area: Denmark

Establishment of an environmentally preferable solution for water and wastewater treatment by a Danish military airbase

The Danish military airbase, Karup invested in Envotherm wastewater treatment plant to treat wastewater generated by washing military helicopters. The plant purifies contaminated water through evaporation and ensures that it can be reused for industrial purposes or disposed of safely as wastewater. 

The challenge

Before purchasing Envotherm, the airbase was spending DKK 2 (0.30 Euro approximately) per litre to collect and ship the wastewater to the nearest wastewater treatment plant. The water was then treated before being discharged into the municipal wastewater. However, the chemical and electrolysis based wastewater treatment technologies were not an effective solution for the purification of the wastewater caused by helicopter washing. The approach taken by the treatment plant, which uses chemicals to make the pollutants settle, are problematic for both the environment and the working atmosphere.   The airbase received a notice from the Viborg municipality to ensure compliance with the limits of harmful substance penetration in its wastewater to harmlessly discharge into the municipal wastewater. 

The measure

The solution that could treat the airbase’s wastewater for dangerous levels of cadmium concentration was the Envotherm technology. The use of an evaporation process to purify wastewater from hazardous substances was both the most environmentally friendly and most economically advantageous option. The distilled water is subsequently so clean that it can be reused for industrial processes - or discharged as ordinary wastewater.

The Karup airbase decided to undertake responsible purchasingProcurement of eco-innovation and thus the establishment of the Envotherm wastewater treatment plant incurred an investment of DKK 2.2 million (Euro 29,500 approximately). The annual operational costs amount to DKK 48,000 (Euro 6,430 approximately) compared to the previous annual cost related to the wastewater of DKK 1.1 million (Euro 14,750 approximately). The payback period of the investment was just over two years.

Lessons learnt

When making public procurement decisions based on initial investment costs alone, the investment in environmental technologies may sometimes not appear to be profitable. Envotherm has experienced that public procurers and potential customers are often sceptical of the size of the initial investment, when considering purchasing its technology. The company recommends public procurement officers to carry out a total life cycle cost analysis as part of their procurement strategy instead of focusing on the original purchase price or the budget of a single year.

Further deployment

Envotherms wastewater treatment plant saves Karup airbase an annual cost of DKK 62,000 (Euro 8,300 approximately). After the successful demonstration of the plant in Karup airbase in Denmark, Envotherm is now facing the possibility of exporting their wastewater solution to an English airbase. Since the market expansion for Envotherm technology is proven, the maturity of this eco-innovation is estimated to be beyond 9 on GML scale.