VOC BIOTREAT. A cost-effective solution for the biodestruction of volatile organic compound emissions. Using existing facilities, this innovative biotreatment solution not only meets EPA requirements for the destruction of regulated VOC emissions, but reduces operational costs by an order of magnitude.
ENVIRON’s proprietary solution hinges on using existing biological wastewater treatment facilities, conducting tests and qualifying these facilities as alternative control devices for removal of biodegradable VOCs.
DRAMATIC COST SAVINGS
The total annual cost of this biotreatment alternative is estimated to be less than 10% of the cost for an activated carbon system representing a payback in less than one year. If nitrogen-blanketing losses are also a concern, savings are even greater.
The VOC BIOTREATTM system is easy to implement typically piping, valves and instrumentation.
HOW VOC BIOTREATTM WORKS
Realistic and reliable, ENVIRON’s patent-pending protocols apply equally to any biodegradable VOCs and aretransferable to organic hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) regulated by other maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards. The ENVIRON protocols, when used to create site-specific solutions, can use most existing, activated sludge systems as a VOC emissions control device.
VOC BIOTREATTM REQUIREMENTS
Refineries, organic chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies, and others have VOC off-gases and may qualify for the VOC BIOTREATTM protocols.
Eligible facilites will meet most of these qualifications:
- Activated sludge biosystem with a tank greater than 18 feet deep with diffused aeration
- Installed carbon or incineration system
- Accessible pipe rack to move gases around the property
Marathon Petrolium Company Garyville Refinery, LA
This major Gulf Coast refinery served as the proving ground for ENVIRON's engineered solution. Using an existing biological treatment plant as a benzene waste operations alternative control device, the system achieved over 99% biodegradation of benzene emission sources.
ENVIRON's bench-scale BOX test* and its full-scale confirmation test* show more realistic and more reliable benzene biodegradation rates (K1) than the EPA's own default values.
The VOC BIOTREATTM system won the full approval of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
VOC BIOTREATTM PROCESS
ENVIRON works in close partnership with facility management, environmental safety and health professionals, engineers, corporate representatives and the local and Federal regulatory agencies.
These six steps were designed by ENVIRON to take any facility from a feasibility study, through agency acceptance to the final launch as efficiently as possible.
Step 1: Determine eligibility based on site assessment
Step 2: Develop a site-specific, predictive model to gauge operating parameters and obtain agency concurrence for approach.
Step 3: Conduct BOX testing to determine site-specific VOC bio-degradation rate to calibrate the model
Step 4: Perform full-scale confirmation, using testing Core Column Simulation*
Step 5: Obtain Agency final approval of Alternative Control Device
Step 6: Initiate detailed engineering plan and launch new treatment solution
Has the USEPA approved these methods?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) was one of the reviewers on the project ENVIRON completed for Marathon Petroleum Company, Garyville Refinery. The prime regulatory agency was the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. They requested and received the USEPA’s overview and approval of ENVIRON’s improved methodology. The initial solicitation of regulatory and technical input included two trips to Research Triangle Park in North Carolina to discuss the conceptual approach with the technical, modeling and rules promulgating staff of the USEPA.
Will they put it in writing?
State agencies have localized control for approval on issues related to air quality, and those state agencies will need to approve relevant protocols on a case-by-case basis. These state agencies often request input and review from the USEPA regarding novel approaches or when questions arise.
Have any other states besides Louisiana approved this process and the Alternative Control Device?
Marathon Petroleum Company, Garyville Refinery-Louisiana was the first industrial effort to utilize the more reliable and realistic proposals of ENVIRON to gain acceptance of an existing bioplant as an Alternative Control Device. Since this initial success achieved regulatory acceptance in early 2010, ENVIRON has begun projects in Wyoming, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri. Each of these projects will be requesting approval from the respective state agency. We do not expect the innovative methodology proposed by ENVIRON to require review by the USEPA.
Any anticipated problems with other states giving approval?
Each state will issue approval based on their local regulations and compliance concerns. The ENVIRON VOC BioTreat protocols will be implemented with conscientious contact and participation with local agencies.
What is the ”ideal” VOC BioTreat facility?
An ideal facility for VOC BioTreat has an activated sludge system with deep tank aeration of greater than 18 feet water depth and utilizes a diffused aeration system for oxygen supply to the biomass. It also has an existing pipe rack in proximity to the bioreactors to convey gases around the property easily and most likely a thermal oxidizer or activated carbon treatment system to achieve the required VOC reduction. The VOC-emitting facility could be a refinery or petrochemical plant, an organic chemicals plant or in the pharmaceutical industry.
Can you use a shallow tank with surface aerators?
No. The shallow tank and surface aerators (surface sprayers) are excellent for providing oxygen to the biomass. However, the same characteristics that provide good oxygen transfer also provide ideal stripping conditions for VOCs. Unfortunately, this system is not a candidate for VOC BioTreat.
Does VOC BioTreat apply to other VOC emissions that are not associated with the wastewater treatment facilities?
Yes. ENVIRON’s engineers believe that a facility that has an activated sludge system with deep tank aeration of greater than 18 feet and an existing pipe rack can be used effectively to treat any VOCs that are suitable for biodestruction. The technical issues are identical, whether the regulated emission is generated in the wastewater treatment plant area or emanates from a process vent in the production area. However, the proximity of a gas conveyance system is significant to the cost-effectiveness of VOC BioTreat.
What % LEL is considered a satisfactory design value?
ENVIRON follows standard industrial safety procedures, i.e., the projected amount of hydrocarbon is maintained at 20% or less of the LEL to stay well within the acceptable design standards. Safety is a paramount concern, and our scientists carefully assess all options to reduce or lower the explosive limits.
How do you balance the gas emissions plus the dilution air flows throughout the piping system?
The existing blowers for the activated sludge bioreactors are used to suck the VOC vapors and dilution air though the conveyance piping to the existing aeration air supply grid in the deep tank. Sweep air is pulled across the VOC sources to maintain the desired LEL dilution. This air is balanced among the various emission sources by valves and economical pressure gauges. One or two LEL monitors are installed as an added degree of safety.
Where are the LEL monitors located in the system?
Generally, the LEL monitors are located just ahead of the aeration suction blowers. However, on longer piping runs, an additional monitor may be placed on a lateral receiving several VOC emission sources.
ENVIRON's Integrated Industrial Wastewater Management Services ENVIRON delivers innovative solutions and unparalleled service from leading experts in the field of integrated industrial wastewater management. We apply the best available technologies and engineering skills to complex industrial wastewater management challenges. We have completed projects in more than 25 countries, ranging from conceptual and process design to detailed design, start-up, and operations.
Renowned as technology innovators and developers, our principals pioneered Master Planning and Source Control concepts for industry. AIS, an innovative reconfiguration of the Activated Sludge Process developed full-scale by our principals in partnership with several industries, has been granted three patents.
Dr. Carl E. Adams Jr.,PE, AAEE
V: +1 615-377-4775
Email Carl Adams
Gregory P. Verret, PE
V: +1 314.513.1958
Email Greg Verret
Andrew W. Edwards, PE, DEE
V: +1 713.470.6654
Email Andy Edwards
An international consultancy, ENVIRON works with clients to help resolve their most demanding environmental and human health issues. We combine resources across geographic boundaries and technical and scientific disciplines to provide clients with the best, most responsive teamwhether responding to existing challenges, evaluating opportunities to improve performance, or seeking to reduce future liabilities. Clients around the world benefit from our unique ability to bring clarity to issues at the intersection of science, business and policy.
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