Wastewater Distribution and Gas Detection

Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) are designed to prevent pollution and disease by treating wastewater before being released to the environment. Wastewater that has potentially dangerous characteristics requires treatment and a gas detection system to ensure the safety of customers and employees. 

Water is used in a variety of applications, from cooking and cleaning in residential homes to break room and bathroom facilities in commercial spaces. Any water that is flushed away from the area of use is considered wastewater. For commercial purposes, many industrial plants and water treatment facilities accumulate wastewater and must manage it. Gases typically found in commercial applications are methane (CH4), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), Chlorine (Cl2), and more. 

Within industries collecting wastewater, in-plant pump stations are found, consisting of pumps and servicing equipment to maintain the distribution channels of wastewater from lower to higher elevations. This allows continuous and cost-effective treatment within the plant. While some of the plant pump stations can be located outside the building parameters, in-house stations must possess gas detection systems for potential gases within the wastewater mixture. 

The primary method of treatment started with the removal of solids before the wastewater is transported from its location of origin to the treatment plant. The liquid will pass through bar screens, filtering out additional trash surpassed from the original removal at the location of origin, and then a grit chamber to slow down the flow of water, allowing other heavy solids like sand to be left behind and disposed of. The process continues to the sedimentation tank, collecting smaller particles as well as separating liquids (“floaters”) that are lighter than water, such as oil, float to the top to be removed. This stage of the distribution process is critical for gas detection due to the floaters possibly being combustible gases and vapors, maintaining the safety of the distribution process as well as the workers in the area. This first process is capable of removing 40-50% of pollutants in wastewater. 

The second part of the process, known for removing 85-90% pollutants, involves an aeration tank which supplies large amounts of air into wastewater, bacteria, and microorganisms. The oxygen speeds the growth of the organisms to help consume harmful organic matter. A secondary sedimentation tank allows the microorganisms and solid waste to settle out. This begins aerobic breakdown, which can be harmful in enclosed spaces, as it can release carbon dioxide and oxygen. Other gases leaking into the atmosphere are probable, therefore highlighting the need for gas detection equipment. The leftover sludge from the process is then recycled for microorganisms as a food source through digestion (which in some cases requires oxygen). 

When considering the disinfection process of wastewater treatments and distribution, chlorine is most commonly used due to its history of destroying certain organisms by oxidizing cellular components. After disinfection, the water’s chlorine residual has to be reduced to nontoxic levels, which is achieved through the use of sulfur dioxide. Alternatives such as ozonation (O3), chlorine dioxide (CO2), and ultraviolet (UV) can be implemented but must be monitored through gas detection equipment to make sure a toxic environment is not produced. Otherwise, the process can increase the risk of safety for your property, employees, and the microorganisms assisting in the wastewater distribution and treatment process. 

Another method of wastewater treatment requiring gas detection instruments is ammonia stripping. The desorption process is used to lower the content of ammonia in the wastewater stream by adding lime or caustic to convert ammonium hydroxide into ammonia gas. The various processes of wastewater distribution from the location of origin to the plants, as well as its treatment, indicates the strong need for gas detection equipment. 
Otis Instruments has a vast selection of Wired and WireFree easy-to-use, robust, and configurable gas detectors and monitors capable of detecting both toxic and non-toxic gases for diverse applications. For more information regarding gas detection systems, visit our products page. To learn more about gas detection for wastewater distribution and treatment, or other solutions for your industry, contact Otis Instruments today!

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