September 26, 2018   
Gillette Stadium

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Challenges Assessing and Treating Biotechnology Wastewater: Case Study on Phenol Treatment

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM |

Biotechnology plays a critical role in our society. While large scale biotechnology operations are regulated under the federal categorical pretreatment standards, research and development activities are exempt for the categorical standards. Industrial wastewater pretreatment systems (IWPS) from these biotechnology research facilities are typically limited to equalization and neutralization and often over-sized to handle future flows. The waste characteristics from biotechnology operations typically include ultrapure water for cleaning and high strength organic wastewater from biological and natural extraction operations. Combining high strength organic wastes with warm water and discharging them to an IWPS with a long residence time and constant agitation can cause excessive biological growth. A major biotechnology manufacturing company in Cambridge, Massachusetts found that excessive biological activity in its IWPS was the source of odors and the generation of elevated phenol levels, which is a regulated parameter at 5.0 parts per million by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).

This paper will discuss methods used to assess the wastewater characteristics and treatability testing conducted to control the generation of phenol and odors from this operation. It will present disinfection and oxidation results obtained through treatability testing using several different oxidizers to control growth including chlorine, peracetic acid, sodium percarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, and hydrogen peroxide with a catalyst. In addition, it will discuss treatability testing conducted to assess the ability of certain oxidizers to chemically oxidize phenol present in the wastewater once generated. The approach taken and data obtained through treatability testing will be of value to other biotechnology companies with similar organic wastes and pretreatment systems.


Speaker: Wayne Bates | Principal Engineer, Tighe & Bond

Wayne leads Tighe & Bond’s industrial sector services. He is an expert in sustainability and industrial wastewater with 30 years of experience in life cycle assessments, providing industrial compliance services. He is a registered professional engineer in 5 states and holds a PhD from WPI in environmental engineering.