Proving BioCord cold-weather nitrification under highly variable conditions

DATE POSTED: December 11, 2019

St Henry pilot

What happens when a BioCord™ pilot system experiences operating conditions that are much different than what was expected? Is the data still useful? Is the pilot project considered a success? 

These are some of the questions we asked ourselves after looking at the results from a BioCord pilot study performed under highly variable conditions. In the end, we learned that the data was very valuable and proved not only that BioCord can achieve nitrification at temperatures below 1°C, but it can do it under some pretty tough conditions. 

The BioCord pilot project was conducted at the wastewater treatment lagoons serving the small town of St. Henry, Ohio, USA. The village was facing serious operational challenges at its four-cell lagoon system, which treats municipal wastewater and effluent from a food processing plant. Despite adding aerators and a mixing unit, the plant was struggling to maintain sufficient ammonia removal during the winter months. 

With little space to expand the treatment plant, the community was also concerned about potentially complying with more stringent ammonia limits (1 mg/L) and handling increased hydraulic flows of up to 2x the plant’s rated capacity. 

St Henry pilot

A 1.4 m x 1.4 m x 1.4 m BioCord Reactor was used in the St Henry Pilot Project.

A BioCord pilot system was installed to test its ability to provide a scalable, low-energy, fixed-film technology that could upgrade lagoon performance and increase treatment capacity without expanding plant footprint. 

The BioCord pilot system was designed to handle influent ammonia concentrations of about 20-25 mg/L and BOD of 50 -75 mg/L, drawn from Cell 2 of the lagoon system. The pilot ran from September 2017 to May 2018. 

BioCord deals with unexpected conditions

But influent concentrations of ammonia and BOD often exceeded the design specifications, especially in the colder months – between November and February. Ammonia was often above 40 and BOD climbed as high as 300 mg/L at times. Our team was concerned that the BioCord system was undersized to handle the higher influent levels. 

Yet despite the higher than anticipated influent concentrations and undersized reactor, the BioCord system performed very well. Nitrification was achieved at temperatures as low as 0.5°C and BOD levels were also dramatically reduced. Based on the data and BioCord performance, the team concluded that additional BioCord reactors would have enabled the pilot system to handle the higher-than-expected loading rates and provide desired nitrification. 

St Henry BOD reductionsSt Henry BOD Reductions

Learn more about simple, low-energy BioCord Reactors for cold-weather ammonia and BOD removal.

Contact us to discuss your wastewater treatment needs. 

Ammonia sensors improve data quality

DATE POSTED: October 28, 2018

Winter nitrification pilot project improves data collection with ammonia sensors

Bishop Water has received an extension and additional funding to support a pilot project in a small town in southwestern Ontario. The funding was used to purchase and install ammonia sensors in multiple spots within the sewage lagoon system. Consequently, this will enhance data collection and quality of results from the research. The additional funding also allows Bishop Water to continue data collection until April 2021. This will improve the quality of the data for the town and researchers, as well as contribute to the overall knowledge base, which Bishop Water can apply to other installations.

In the fall of 2016, Bishop Water installed 10 BioCord Reactors at the Dundalk Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Bishop Water, in partnership with Western University, implemented the pilot project. The project is funded by the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC) through the Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) Program. The main goal of the project was to improve winter nitrification within the system. Bishop Water custom designed the BioCord Reactors to fit directly into the lagoons. Therefore improving year-round ammonia removal without increasing the plant’s footprint.

More frequent data collection improves data quality

Previously Bishop Water was collecting weekly samples in the winter months, and once every two weeks for the remainder of the year. As the end of the project approached, professors from Western University and the Bishop Water team saw great potential to continue the research. Weekly or bi-weekly samples only give a small snapshot of the system. This leads to more assumptions when analyzing the data. With increased data collection, the results can be much more meaningful since it enables Bishop Water to develop a better understanding of how the ammonia concentration is changing on a daily basis.

The initial project, which was originally designed to be complete within two years, will now continue until April 2021. The funding provided by AWT enables Bishop Water and researchers from Western University to remotely measure the ammonia concentration in the influent and effluent from Lagoon 1 and Lagoon 2 every six hours. As a result of more frequent and more specific data collection, Bishop Water will develop a better understanding of how the ammonia concentration is changing on a daily basis. The ammonia sensors use very little additional energy and one is even solar-powered.

ammonia sensors

About BioCord Reactors

A BioCord Reactor system is a simple, low-energy technology which harnesses natural biological processes. Due to increased surface area, its implementation can boost treatment capacity in a sewage lagoon by up to 30%. This potentially extends the life of aging treatment lagoons and helps growing communities avoid the need to build a costly mechanical plant.

BioCord Reactors use densely looped polymer fibres that offer a massive surface area. These hang on modular frames and provide a habitat for growth of bacteria. Increased surface area allows the aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms to maintain ammonia removal even in cold weather conditions. Also adding to superior winter performance is the open-frame design. This ensures good circulation and inhibits air diffuser clogging due to sludge build up.

Watch this video to learn more about the BioCord Reactor system in Dundalk, Ontario.

Contact us to discuss solutions for your treatment lagoon.

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Cold weather nitrification improved with BioCord Reactors

DATE POSTED: July 27, 2018

Pilot project aims to help small Ohio town improve cold weather nitrification

A recently completed BioCord Reactor pilot project provides the data needed to help a small town in Ohio improve cold weather nitrification in its wastewater treatment lagoons. The data will be used to propose a  full-scale BioCord Reactor system. Bishop Water will design a customized system to fit within the existing plant footprint and help the town meet new regulatory requirements for ammonia removal.

WaterSolve, partner of Bishop Water and distributor of the BioCord Reactor system in the United States, met with operators at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). As WaterSolve worked with the town, Bishop Water designed a pilot project for the site. Once the system was ready, WaterSolve installed the system at the WWTP in September 2017. Watersolve and the town both monitored the ammonia concentrations until June 2018 when the project was completed.

cold weather nitrification

“Information is power”

“Information is power,” says Mike Broering, a Project Manager at WaterSolve. “At the start of the project, we had very little data so the pilot testing was very important for us to gather information, especially in winter operating conditions. The data we gathered during the BioCord Reactor pilot project will help Bishop Water to accurately size a full-scale installation. In turn, this will help the site comply with a new state regulation to reduce ammonia in treated effluent below 5 mg/L.”

The BioCord Reactor system is like a custom-built condominium for bacteria. Densely looped polymer fibres hang on modular frames and provide a massive surface area. Consequently, this increases the growth of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms that are ideal for treatment lagoons. Thus maintaining regulatory compliance for ammonia in cold weather conditions.

“The BioCord Reactor system is very robust,” Broering says. “We initially expected the ammonia concentration to range from 5 mg/L to 20 mg/L, while the actual concentrations were higher. The influent to the system ranged from 20 mg/L to 40 mg/L. Even so, the self-regulating treatment system was able to respond quickly. The BioCord Reactor system was also able to consistently achieve the required ammonia reduction in winter conditions, even when wastewater temperatures were as low as 1ºC.”

Learn more about the BioCord Reactor system for enhancing cold-weather nitrification in wastewater lagoons.

Contact us to arrange a BioCord Reactor pilot project for your treatment plant.

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