All Things Biosolids Continued…

This column picks up by returning to the question, “How do you create value in biosolids?” One way is to stabilize them – make a Class A EQ biosolids. So, I put together the Thermal Process Systems ThermAer ATAD Seminar. The seminar was co-hosted by the staffs of the Bowling Green WPCF and the Fremont WRC. Operators from treatment plants across the state attended to learn about the ThermAer digestion process and how they could benefit from it.

The Seminar started with a classroom presentation with design engineer Kevin Staton, from Thermal Process Systems, presenting the basic biology and chemistry of the ThermAer. He then talked about how the ThermAer would fit in and operate at a typical wastewater treatment plant.

What the attendees learned is the ThermAer is an aerobic digestion process that produces a highly stabilized Class A EQ biosolid. While there are few biosolids stabilization processes to choose from, the ThermAer is great fit for wastewater treatment plants in the 2 to 10 MGD range. It doesn’t require an extra process step to get biosolids to Class A EQ status. Unlike biosolids dryers, the ThermAer achieves Class A EQ status through the aerobic digestion process itself. No extra energy or steps are required. The ThermAer is an excellent way for treatment plants to get a highly stabilized biosolid that is pathogen free very low odors. When I smell dewatered biosolids from the ThermAer I say they smell like soil. I admit that I don’t have the most sensitive nose, but they are relatively odor-free.

Kevin’s presentation was followed by Doug Clark’s, Superintendent of the Bowling Green WPCF, presentation “BG’s 15 Years with the ThermAer”. In his presentation Doug held nothing back and described all the ups and downs of living with the ThermAer. Doug concluded saying the process has worked very well for Bowling Green. They no longer land apply their biosolids, but now give all of them to a local soil blender who makes top soil out of it which he sell to landscapers. Doug’s presentation was followed by a tour of BG’s ThermAer conducted by Raymond Cully, BG’s Sludge Coordinator.

Next stop was Fremont, Ohio and the Fremont WRC where superintendent Jeff Lamson presented “Life with the ThermAer at the Fremont WRC”. Jeff did not pull any punches and described some of the issues they’re having with their ThermAer and how they’re working through them. Jeff said most of the issues they’re having can be attributed to overloading the ThermAer. Fremont is currently processing nearly 50% more solids than the ThermAer was designed to handle. Jeff concluded his presentation saying that Kevin Staton and Thermal Process Systems have worked with him and his operators to find more capacity in the ThermAer, but it has been a challenge. Following the presentation Fremont WRC operators led tours of the ThermAer.

Of course I’m biased, but I feel the seminar was a success and the operators that attended were glad they came. I plan to hold another ThermAer seminar next year. Send me an email (Paul@Go-Smith.com) if you think you’d like to attend. As was said in my previous blog, it is much easier to land apply a highly stabilized biosolid. The ThermAer can help plants get their biosolids out of the landfill or improve their land application program if they’re already land applying their biosolids.

All Things Biosolids

The last 30 days at Smith Environmental have revolved around biosolids, MY FAVORITE TOPIC! They started with the WEF Residuals and Biosolids Conference in late May.

Lena Zeldozich, author of, The Other Dark Matter, The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health, was the Keynote Speaker.

I thought the WEF RBC was outstanding in every way. First, it was held in my hometown, Columbus, Ohio and hosted by the very capable member association the OWEA. The Co-Chairs Jason Tincu and Kathryn Crestani assembled a great team and, together with their team, they put together an excellent and informative program.

Because of Covid I was tasked to set up and man the Neutralox exhibit booth.

I was very busy during the conference attending as many technical presentations as possible while spending time with five manufacturers I represent that were exhibiting – Komline-Sanderson, Landia, Neutralox, Thermal Process Systems, and Tomorrow Water. It was great having them at the conference as all five of these companies bring innovative solutions to wastewater treatment and biosolids processing. Jon Liberzon from Tomorrow Water made an excellent presentation, “Cooking Without Gas”, about the benefits of thermal hydrolysis even when it’s not followed by anaerobic digestion.

For me, the overall theme of the conference was VALUE. How do we as an industry promote the value of biosolids? Currently we don’t treat biosolids like they have any value. Almost every wastewater treatment plant pays to have their biosolids taken off their plant. A large percentage of these plants are also paying to landfill their biosolids. What do we put in landfills? We put trash in them. When we put our biosolids in a landfill we’re treating them like they’re trash.

How do you create value in biosolids?

  1. Start by educating farmers on how biosolids can benefit them. The NPK of biosoilds will be attractive to them. But, they’ll get so much more. The organic material that comes with the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium will help them restore their soil.
  2. Stabilize them. Highly stabilized biosolids typically are less odorous than ones that aren’t. Class A EQ biosolids are pathogen free, allowing for more flexible usage.
  3. Educate the public – Public perception of biosolids is very negative. There’s a lot of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) when it comes to biosolids. Most think biosolids is another word for human excrement (POOP). Educating the public about the “greenness” of the land application of biosolids, and how it’s a powerful form of recycling, resource recovery, and reducing our carbon footprint.

Screw Pump Delivered to Lancaster WPCF

I typically don’t get to witness the delivery of equipment I’ve sold on a wastewater treatment plant project. But, on October 6th, I was present at the Lancaster WPCF to see the first of three Lakeside Equipment Corporation Type-S screw pumps delivered. The three pumps coming to Lancaster will replace three existing influent screw pumps at the plant. These pumps are noteworthy for a couple reasons.

60″ diameter Lakeside Type S screw pump waiting to enter the Lancaster WPCF

First, the sale of these pumps was a large order. Personally, who wouldn’t think the delivery of a large order is noteworthy. Second noteworthy reason, the order could have been much larger, nearly twice as large. Wait, did I just say that? That seems a little off…when you’re talking about sales, a larger order is better, right?

Let me explain. When the design for improvements to the Lancaster WPCF was underway, I was asked for a proposal by the design engineer for replacement of the pumps in kind, the same style and type as the existing screw pumps. Lakeside Equipment Corp. provided the proposal as requested, but also told the engineer that there was a better, lower cost, alternative screw pump available for the application.

Existing influent screw pumps being replaced at the Lancaster WPCF

The existing screw pumps at the treatment plant were what Lakeside calls a Type “C” enclosed screw pump. Type “C” Enclosed Screw Pumps are designed with two convoluted flights that are welded to the inside of a rotating steel tube. This type of screw pump is typically used in applications where the water needs to be lifted higher than an open-flight screw pump can lift.

The lift required for the influent pumping application at the Lancaster WPCF was well within the capabilities of an open flight screw pump. The reason the engineer asked for an enclosed Type “C” pump was concrete troughs for the open flight pumps to rest in didn’t exist. Lakeside knew there was another, more cost-effective solution, Lakeside’s Type ”S” pump. Type “S” Enclosed Screw Pumps utilize the same design and operating principles as Open Screw Pumps but are enclosed in stationary steel tube rather than in an open trough. Don’t have a concrete trough? No problem. We’ll put the open flight screw pump in a tube.

Lower cost? The Type “S” screw pumps for the application at the Lancaster WPCF were half the cost of what the Type “C” pumps would’ve been. Wow! That’s value plain and simple! It is very rewarding and feels great to provide such value for a community. The money saved will allow for Lancaster to apply the money saved to additional needed improvements.

Lakeside Equipment Corporation has been designing and building screw pumps for over 50 years. They make screw pumps that range from 12” to 144” in diameter for pump rates ranging from 90 to 55,000 gallons per minute. All of Lakeside’s pumps are fabricated in Chariton, Iowa by Johnston Machine Works using U.S. steel. More importantly, Lakeside designs and builds their pumps to provide years of service. Most operating trouble-free for more than 20 years. Now that’s true value.