Optimization of a Wastewater Treatment Facility

Project Location: DE
Client: Public Corporation – Pharmaceutical Manufacturer
Optimization of a Wastewater Treatment Facilit Project Description: A publicly traded manufacturer of pharmaceutical products had great concern over their process effluent wastewater treatment facility, after receiving increasingly frequent citations and penalties from the local POTW. Though their treatment facility was properly sized and correctly designed to treat their wastewater stream in the 1960’s, a steady increase in plant capacity and a corresponding increase in wastewater volume over time stretched the system to its limits. The wastewater facility could no longer keep up with the rest of the plant. The client increasingly experienced effluent quality upsets, resulting in increasingly frequent POTW citations and fines, amounting to several hundred thousand dollars over a period of several months. We were asked to help.

After performing a thorough review of the treatment facility’s design documents, we walked down the entire site and obtained several months of real time performance data. Thereafter we performed a chemical mass balance of their treatment process using our proprietary program pH Neutral™. We analyzed and compared what was currently required of their treatment system to what was needed when the plant was constructed in the 1960’s.

We found that as the years went by and the plant grew, so did their daily production of effluent – total effluent volume more than doubled! In addition, we found that the swing in system wastewater flow rate over short periods of time grew increasingly larger – the volume of wastewater generated by the plant could vary by more than 25%, or more, in as little as several hours. With the increase in overall wastewater volume and with wide variations in flow rates over short periods of time, ensuing spikes in wastewater pH were greater than their treatment facility could handle - pH could no longer be maintained within the bounds of their permit.

We confidently advised the client that building a new effluent treatment facility was not necessary. Their problem was not one of system capacity, but rather of system control and configuration. Though the wastewater process control system was more than capable, it was unable to respond quickly enough, and the metering and injection of caustic and acid occurred too late in their treatment process to be 100% effective.

We prepared a thorough report describing each of our recommendations, the majority of which required little capital expenditure. Implementing these recommendations, the client’s POTW problem was completely solved, resulting in the cessation of system upsets, citations and fines.