Solving Biosolids Cake Handling Issues at Kalamazoo Wastewater Reclamation Plant

Written by Eric Wanstrom


In recent years, the city of Kalamazoo has faced a growing challenge in managing biosolids, the byproduct of wastewater treatment processes. The conveyance of the biosolids cake, the solid residue left after the sludge is dewatered, presented significant difficulties for the city’s aging belt conveyor system at the wastewater reclamation plant. Kalamazoo found an innovative solution to this problem through the implementation of Schwing Bioset piston pumps. This blog post will explore how Kalamazoo harnessed the power of piston pumps to revolutionize their biosolids cake handling processes and the positive impact it has had on the city.

Understanding the Biosolids Cake Handling Issue:

Before diving into the solution, let’s first understand the challenges faced by Kalamazoo in handling biosolids cake. Biosolids, while rich in nutrients and organic matter, can be challenging to transport due to their high viscosity, foul odors, and stickiness. This made it difficult to efficiently move the material through the wastewater treatment plant from dewatering to the loading area. The aging belt conveyors were messy, causing safety issues, and frequently experiencing maintenance issues, which caused facility downtime and increased operational costs.

Enter the Piston Pump Solution:

To overcome the challenges associated with biosolids cake handling, Kalamazoo turned to the use of piston pumps. Piston pumps are positive displacement pumps that use reciprocating pistons to move the cake by creating a back-and-forth pumping action. These pumps are known for their ability to handle viscous and high-solid-content materials effectively, making them an ideal choice for biosolids cake.

The Benefits of Piston Pumps in Biosolids Cake Handling:

  1. Increased Efficiency: Piston pumps are specifically designed to handle high-viscosity materials, ensuring smooth and continuous pumping. With their robust construction and ability to handle solid particles, they significantly reduce maintenance downtime, leading to improved overall operational efficiency.
  1. Enhanced Reliability: The robust nature of piston pumps allows them to withstand the challenging operating conditions associated with biosolids cake. Their durable components and minimal moving parts result in reduced wear and tear, translating into increased reliability and longer service life.
  1. Cost Savings: By streamlining the handling process and reducing maintenance requirements, piston pumps contribute to substantial cost savings for wastewater treatment plants. With fewer breakdowns and improved efficiency, Kalamazoo has seen a notable decrease in repair and maintenance expenses, leading to significant financial benefits for the city.
  1. Improved working conditions: By pumping the biosolids in a pipeline instead of being conveyed by open belt conveyors, working conditions have improved dramatically. No longer does staff have to constantly clean up cake which has spilled from the belt conveyors and suffer as odors have been greatly reduced.

Success in Kalamazoo:

Since the implementation of the Schwing Bioset piston pumps in Kalamazoo’s wastewater reclamation plant, the city has experienced remarkable improvements in biosolids cake handling. The efficient pumping action of the piston pumps has eliminated transport issues, leading to reduced maintenance and downtime. The increased operational efficiency has not only saved costs, but has also allowed the plants to process a higher volume of biosolids, maximizing facility throughput.

Furthermore, Kalamazoo’s commitment to embracing innovative technology has positioned the city as a leader in sustainable wastewater management practices. By adopting piston pumps, they have demonstrated a proactive approach to resolving biosolids handling challenges, setting an example for other municipalities facing similar issues.


The city of Kalamazoo’s successful utilization of piston pumps to address their biosolids cake handling issues showcases the transformative power of innovative solutions in wastewater management. By investing in reliable and efficient technology, Kalamazoo has overcome the challenges associated with biosolids cake handling, leading to improved operational efficiency and cost savings.

Contact us today to learn how a piston pump built by Schwing Bioset can help your operation, or visit our website to read more about our products and solutions.


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