McMinnville, Oregon

McMinnville, Oregon

The installation in McMinnville, Oregon perhaps best demonstrates our capabilities as the levels of odorous compounds to be treated were among the highest ever reported from the wastewater treatment environment, and provided a real challenge to any odour control system.

We were called in there to a 6-month old, $25,000,000 U.S. wastewater treatment plant, designed by CH2M Hill, that had an extreme odour problem that was threatening the plantís very existence. They had an ATAD (Autothermal Thermophyllic Aerobic Digestion) system in place to treat the sludge, and the chemical scrubber used to control odours was not capable of handling the levels involved. They were getting 15 to 20 odour complaints per day, and a local citizens group was about to take the city to court over the odour problem. The odour was very strong, with a distinct rotting flesh smell. Some of the odour complaints came from residents several miles from the plant, and buzzards were a common sight circling the stack looking for the rotting flesh. The levels of reduced sulphur compounds in the air were extremely high - up to 140 ppm methyl mercaptan, 10 to 20 ppm each of dimethyl disulphide and dimethyl sulphide, and about 1100 ppm ammonia. The odour thresholds for these reduced sulphur compounds are very low, all less than 20 ppb (Table 1).

There was no time for a pilot run, so we over-designed the biofilter to be sure to remove the odours. The odour complaints stopped about 3 days after we started up the biofilter.

The biofilter treats 3000 cfm of undiluted ATAD air and was installed in 1997. The air is first humidified and scrubbed to lower the ammonia to manageable levels (250 ppm) and reduce the temperature to below the thermophylic range, and is then treated in the biofilter with an empty bed residence time of 3 minutes. On subsequent installations on ATADs, we have successfully lowered this to around 45 seconds (Table 1). We now have biofilters on over 7 ATADs all over North America (Table 1).

This biofilter was not tested for odour removal, but there is essentially no odour on top of the bed, so the compounds mentioned above must be at or below their odour threshold after the biofilter, which suggests >99.9% removal, and there have been no odour problems since in almost 8 years of operation. The filter material was changed after four years, only because the plant is very pro-active. It would probably have lasted many more years.

Table 1: Maximum Inlet Concentrations of Odorous Compounds and Other Data from Five ATADs which have Ambio Biofilters for Odour Control.
Compound Long Sault Ontario Cardinal Ontario McMinnville Oregon Franklin Indiana Princeton Indiana Odour Threshold
Mercaptan (ppm) ~ 10.0 ~ 6.0 128 ~ 80 ~ 10 0.02
Dimethyl disulfide (ppm) ~ 1.0 n.a. 14.8 n.a. n.a. 0.002
Dimethyl sulfide (ppm) ~ 1.0 n.a. 9.63 n.a. n.a. 0.01
Ammonia (ppm) 1150 900 1400 1200 400 10
Year Installed 1994 1996 1997 2000 2000
ATAD Supplier Fuchs CBI-Walker Fuchs Fuchs Fuchs
Residence Time (s) 28 28 180 48 33
Air flow (cfm) 1500 1500 3000 600 600
% of air flow from ATAD 14 14 100 100 100
data from Long Sault and McMinnville are from GCMS, other data are from Gastec pump and colorimetric tubes and therefore only semi-quantitative.
n.a. = not analysed