GE helps N.C. industrial wastewater processor reduce chemical usage

Greensboro, N.C.-based Shamrock Environmental overcame environmental challenges with a polymeric coagulant, KlarAid, provided by GE Infrastructure, Water & Process Technologies. By using this new chemical process, the company reduced chemical usage by over 80%, for a savings of almost a million dollars during the first eight months...

TREVOSE, PA, June 9, 2005 -- Recognized globally as a leading player in the environmental industry, Shamrock Environmental Corp. is dedicated to reducing waste liability, maintaining a safe work environment and empowering employees to achieve their best. It was no surprise therefore when the company took immediate action upon discovering the central treatment process in its new industrial wastewater facility in Greensboro, N.C., was using an unhealthy level of chemicals.

The challenge
"The acid break technique we were using was effective at treating the wastewater, but the large volumes of chemicals were too expensive and they were harmful to plant equipment and potentially hazardous for employees," said Steve Davis, plant manager.

The acid break process involved reducing the pH of the wastewater to less than 1.0 by adding enormous amounts of acid, typically sulfuric acid. "We would go through a tanker full of acid in a couple days," according to Davis. "And then we would need to bring the pH back up to neutral using a similar amount of sodium hydroxide."

Another challenge was that the acid break method generated sludge that needed to be hauled to a separate Shamrock facility for solidification before it could be sent to a landfill. As well as the labor and transportation cost involved in loading and transporting the sludge, there was also the opportunity cost of tying up the solidification system instead of using it to generate revenue from paying customers.

Davis turned to GE Infrastructure Water & Process Technologies for a solution that would use fewer chemicals without requiring the off-site solidification of sludge, reduce waste liability, and provide a safe work environment for employees.

The solution
Barry Owings, the local GE representative, proposed that the acid break method be replaced with KlarAid PC2710, a polymeric coagulant that requires little or no adjustment of pH. Bench top tests were performed on starch blends from seven different vendors. The tests were repeated for several days to account for the varying characteristics of the industrial wastewater processed at the Greensboro plant. This coagulant was selected because it was the only product able to consistently remove colloidal and emulsified material in all the wastewater test samples.

The results
"By switching to PC2710 from the acid break method, we have been able to reduce our chemical usage by over 80%, for a saving of almost one million dollars during the first eight month period," reports Davis.

"The reduction of chemical usage means a safer working environment for our employees. They used to have to unload dangerous chemicals six or seven times per shift, a process that is now performed only once each day."

Davis also takes pride in the environmental benefit of reduced chemical consumption. "With our new process, significantly fewer chemicals need to be manufactured and transported to our plant; we are consistently producing higher quality water."

An additional benefit is that the coagulant is specifically designed to form dense, easily dewatered sludge. The Greensboro plant utilizes a filter press to dewater the sludge prior to sending to a landfill and there is no longer a need to haul sludge for off-site solidification.

Shamrock Environmental Corp. (, of Greensboro, N.C., provides waste solutions management, specializing in servicing the petroleum, petrochemical, pulp and paper, railroad, transportation, textiles, automotive, utility, chemical and process industries.

General Electric -- whose business units include GE Infrastructure Water & Process Technologies -- is a diversified technology, media and financial services company focused on solving some of the world's toughest problems. With products and services ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, water processing and security technology to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, media content and advanced materials, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. GE W&PT ( is based in Trevose, Pa.


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