Glycol Removal Made Simple

Stormwater treatment plant using bacteria to eat up deicing fluids.

“Large-scale biological treatment is clearly the most cost-effective approach to address deicing stormwater issues,” says Iachetta. “We’ve tried every possible approach since 1989.”

The system saves ALB up to $750,000 a year in pumping, conveyance, and treatment fees that would be assessed for deicing stormwater sent to the local sewer system seven miles away. In round numbers, this represents a 75 percent annual operating cost reduction.

Unlike Akron, ALB still allows deicing at the gate, making use of an inherited containment collection system spanning 61 acres. Iachatta says the airport has about 11.5 million gallons of storage and the option to divert clean stormwater directly to a nearby stream. The system operates for more than 210 days per year and processes 35 million gallons of product.

Albany also uses the methane byproduct to heat stormwater, as well as to heat two airport buildings.

“It is a net energy producer,” says Iachetta. “It makes more energy than it uses.” Iachetta notes that ALB is in studies to find other uses for the methane, including aiding in the production of hydrogen fuel.

The system at Akron is similar, with two holding tanks capable of storing 750,000 gallons each.

“I think the range of flow rate is five to 50 gallons per minute,” Arendt says. It works out to processing approximately 2,000 pounds per day of propylene glycol.

Arendt says that in looking at the Albany system, there were a few additional issues they tried to keep in mind. “We were looking for a system that had the lowest operating costs,” he says.

“Another thing we were looking for is a system that doesn’t produce a high amount of sludge.”

The sludge is made up of dead bacteria — they do age and die, just not all at once. “This particular treatment process really produces a small amount of sludge compared to other biological processes,” he says.

With only two airports in the United States using the technology, AFBR is probably not going to take over the industry anytime soon.

“It’s really very airport-specific,” says Arendt. “This technology I think would be good for some airports and maybe not as good of a fit for other airports. It depends on how the rest of the airport is set up.”

Arendt says that Gresham, Smith and Partners is continuing to research the processes applicable to the industry. Particularly as the potential for more regulations, possibly at the federal level, continues to grow.

Comments Wente with Reynolds, Smith and Hills, “There’s going to be a need to come up with creative solutions like this for situations where you can’t discharge your effluent to local sanitary districts”

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