Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania

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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Monday, November 4, 2024

Technical Sessions

M5: Next-Gen Water Treatment: Unlocking Lithium’s Full Potential

IWC Rep: Tisha Scroggin-Wicker, P.E., Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, MO
Session Chair: Denney Eames, WaterTectonics, Everett, WA
Discussion Leader: Rena Bae, Stantec, Charlotte, NC

Time: 1:15 – 5:00 PM

This session explores innovative water treatment technologies in lithium extraction and purification, with a focus on sustainable practices and technological advancements. Key topics include the role of lithium nanofiltration technology, energy reduction strategies from lithium brine mining, and addressing water issues in lithium battery production. Additionally, the session will cover novel techniques for extracting lithium from geothermal brines, including the use of thermally stable inorganic ion exchangers and advanced well stimulation methods.

IWC 24-13: Lithium extraction and purification schemes from brine streams – The key role of lithium nanofiltration technology
Tirtha Chatterjee, DuPont Water Solutions, Wilmington, DE; Denise Haukkala, DuPont Water Solutions, Salt Lake City, UT; Jordi Bacardit, DuPont Water Solutions, Tarragona, Spain, Europe

Global decarbonization and electrification efforts necessitate accelerated and sustainable lithium production. Direct lithium extraction is a continuous sorbent- and membrane-based technology enabling sustainable and fast production. We will discuss multi-technology system design for key brine chemistries and project context. Further, the role of lithium nanofiltration will be presented emphasizing composition and operating parameters impact on Lithium yield and selectivity along with long-term in-field performance of a product commercialized by the DuPont Water Solutions.

Discusser: Brett Thompson, P.E., ZwitterCo, Inc., Woburn, MA

IWC 24-14: Sustainable Lithium: Lessons Learned in Chinato Reduce Energy Use in Lithium Brine Mining Applications
Erik Desormeaux, Energy Recovery, San Leandro, CA; Xuewen Zhan, Energy Recovery, China; Eric Kadaj, Energy Recovery, San Leandro, CA

This paper discusses four project cases involving the use of novel RO membrane processes and energy recovery devices (ERDs) for lithium-related water reuse, ZLD, and resource recovery applications in China. The projects cover several key stages of the lithium-ion battery life cycle, including one case in cathode active material (CAM) battery manufacturing, two cases in lithium brine mining (one via a salt lake and one via direct lithium extraction), and one case in battery recycling.

Discusser: Lisha Wu, Ph.D., HDR, Rosemont, IL

IWC 24-15: Water Issues in Lithium Battery Production
Thomas E. Higgins, Ph.D., P.E., Worley Group, St Augustine, FL; Mary McLoud, Worley Group, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Avijit Dey, Group, Houston, TX

Energy transition from fossil fuels will require 240 terawatt-hour (TWh) of batteries. Cathode active materials (CAM) are the major material cost. Nickel, manganese and cobalt (NMC batteries) are reacted with oxygen and sulfuric acid to produce metal sulfates, then mixed with sodium hydroxide and ammonia forming metal hydroxides, mixed with lithium hydroxide and heated to produce CAM, producing a wastewater containing sodium sulfate and ammonia. This wastewater can be evaporated (high energy usage and CAPEX) to remove ammonia and produce a sodium sulfate solid for sale or disposal. A promising alternative is bipolar electrodialysis, which can produce sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid, both of which are used in CAM production.

Discusser: Zhendong Liu, LANXESS Corporation, Birmingham, NJ

IWC 24-16: Extraction of Lithium from Geothermal brines using Thermally Stable Inorganic Ion Exchangers
Jasbir Gill, Water Energy Solutions Inc., Naperville, IL

Crystalline acid salts of tetravalent metals such as zirconium and titanium have been known for a long time as inorganic ion-exchangers. The potential uses of these materials have been for separation and concentration of nuclear fission products due to their stability over a wide range of aqueous conditions. Zirconium phosphate has a layered structure, the space between the layers can be customized for inclusion or occlusion of ions for separation such as lithium from brine.

Discusser: David Donkin, UCC Environmental, Waukegan, IL

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M6: PFAS – Game On

IWC Rep: Kristen Jenkins, Brown & Caldwell, Atlanta, GA
Session Chair: Mike Preston, P.E., Kiewit, Lenexa, KS
Discussion Leader: Francisco Barajas, AECOM, Omaha, NE

Time: 1:15 – 5:00 PM

The EPA has issued its first regulatory requirements on PFAS compounds and now it’s game on. Municipal drinking water utilities across the US have a mandate and timeline to comply with the PFAS rules established in this initial regulation. There will be many treatment options and approaches to consider to find an economical solution for different local conditions. Industrial PFAS discharge regulations are anticipated by the end of 2024 and these initial rules should signal what can be expected. This Session will consider three different PFAS concentration technologies and one potential targeted PFAS destruction technology.

IWC 24-17: Experience with Foam Fractionation
John Schubert, P.E., HDR, Sarasota, FL

HDR started a development program in 2019 to identify and develop approaches for PFAS removal from industrial/leachate streams. Following two successful rounds of bench testing, a pilot system was built and operated initially at three landfill sites in the southeast US. These pilot studies have shown effective removal of PFAS compounds from Day 1, with improvement from study to study as the process has been tweaked. Data from bench and pilot studies is included.

Discusser: Mohsen Ghafari, Ph.D., Xylem, Tewksbury, MA

IWC 24-18: PFAS Degradation and Defluorination of High TDS Wastewater via Continuous Hydrothermal Alkaline Treatment (HALT)
Brian Pinkard, Aquagga, Inc., Tacoma, WA; Sean Smith, Ph.D., 3M Company, Saint Paul, MN; Christopher Bryan, 3M Company, Saint Paul, MN

HALT is a PFAS destruction process that can destroy ultra short-, short- and long-chain PFASs in high TDS wastewaters. A case study was performed applying HALT to degrade and defluorinate a range of PFASs in a high TDS wastewater stream. Optimized conditions produce near-quantitative defluorination and F-mass recovery with the pilot-scale HALT system, even at relatively low loadings of NaOH, demonstrating that HALT can be used to treat high TDS wastewater at commercially relevant throughputs.

Discusser: James Scholl, Kiewit, Okemos, MI

IWC 24-19: A Multi-Year Analysis of a PFAS Treatment System in a Surface Water Discharge Application
TJ Mothersbaugh, WaterTectonics, Everett, WA

The use of 15,000 gallons of PFAS-containing firefighting foam in an industrial fire led to surface and groundwater contamination. Initial offsite disposal of contaminated water was costly, prompting the deployment of an onsite treatment system. This paper discusses the evaluation of treatment alternatives, system performance, modifications for increased flows, and waste minimization efforts. It also covers effluent limit determination, regulatory compliance monitoring, and a rapid system mobilization effort that included unique permitting and HSE factors.

Discusser: Bridget Moyles, GHD, Allison Park, PA

IWC 24-20: PFAS Separation and Concentration through Wastewater Evaporation
Travis Smith, Heartland Water Technology, Columbus, OH; Michael Ditton, Heartland Water Technology, Bolton, MA

The presentation will cover a study on PFAS testing during leachate evaporation. Test results support a hypothesis that PFAS’s affinity for water, along with the operational conditions of the system, results in concentrated PFAS remaining in the residuals. The investigation developed a PFAS mass balance, comparing laboratory testing data from multiple sites of both the infeed and residual. Through analytical techniques, field testing, and modeling this study concludes that the vast majority of PFAS is contained in the residual.

Francesco Barbangelo, Purolite, an Ecolab Company, King of Prussia, PA

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M7: Unlocking RO Advancements for Industry Success

IWC Rep: Jane Kucera, Nalco Water, an Ecolab Company, Naperville, IL
Session Chair: Matthew B. Flannigan, Nalco Water, An Ecolab Company, Naperville, IL
Discussion Leader: John Peichel, Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions, Minnetonka, MN

Time: 1:15 – 5:00 PM

Despite the first commercial production of reverse osmosis membranes occurring almost 65 years ago, advancements in RO membrane chemistry, construction, modeling, and deployment continue to evolve, broadening the application of the technology and improving outcomes. This session will explore important advancements in these areas and discuss the implications for end-users and the industry.

IWC 24-21: Review of Field Operation of Novel Zwitterionic RO Membranes
Elke Peirtsegaele, ZwitterCo, Inc., Carpinteria, CA

By integrating a new material chemistry based on zwitterionic copolymers with a polyamide brackish water RO membrane, zwitterionic RO membranes can now enable improved performance in existing RO systems treating high-fouling streams including surface waters, wastewaters, and MBR effluents. This paper will discuss the science behind this novel polymeric membrane chemistry, the unique advantages of zwitterionic membranes, and operational data from the first installations on various high-fouling feed streams.

Discusser: Joel Citulski, Ph.D., P.Eng., Veolia WTS, Oakville, ON, Canada

IWC 24-22: Projecting Scaling Potential in Lithium Brines for High Recovery RO Technologies
Kurt Blohm and Joshua Utter, American Water Chemicals, Plant City, FL

Brine concentration by high recovery RO (Osmotically Assisted RO and Ultra-High Pressure RO) is budding field with few tools available in the industry for accurate modeling. Current scaling projection tools are inaccurate at high ionic strength (e.g., above 2 mol/L) due to lack of lab and field data. In this study, we present data used to improve silica scale prediction models in high ionic strength solutions containing sodium, lithium and potassium.

IWC 24-23: Thin Film Composite Reverse Osmosis Compaction and Relaxation
Jishan Wu, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; Eric Hoek, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

This work examines the compaction and relaxation of composite reverse osmosis (RO) polyamide (PA) selective layers using non-equilibrium molecular dynamic (NEMD) simulations and permeation experiments. PA-RO membranes are made by interfacial polymerization of para and meta diamine monomers, achieving various crosslinking degrees (CD). Higher CD membranes compact 65% less and recover 17% more permeability when pressure is relieved. NEMD simulations visualize and quantify PA layer changes, supporting experimental results and revealing the viscoelastic properties affecting compaction and relaxation.

Discusser: Christopher Kurth, Aqua Membranes, Eden Prairie, MN

IWC 24-24: Revolutionary 36-MIL Ultra Low Differential Pressure Feed Spacer Minimizes Fouling
Younghoon Ko, LG Chem, Ltd., Seoul, Republic of Korea; Eugene Rozenbaoum, LG NanoH2O, LLC, Torrance, CA; Soo-Hyun Kim, LG Chem, Ltd., Seoul, Republic of Korea; Yasushi Maeda, LG Chem Japan Co., Ltd., Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan; Alvaro Lagartos, LG NanoH2O, LLC, Barcelona, Spain

Differential pressure (dP) is one of the key performance indicators of a reverse osmosis system. Higher dP increases energy cost of operation and could cause damage to membranes. The dP is influenced by the feed spacer geometry: mesh size, thickness, strand diameter and angle. In this paper, we will present results of the development of a revolutionary 36-mil low dP feed spacer that minimizes flow disturbance, fouling rate and pressure losses without increasing concentration polarization.

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M8: Industrial Wastewater – Tackling Treatment, Optimization and New Challenges

IWC Rep: Jay Harwood, Newterra, Oakville, ON, Canada
Session Chair: Jaron Stanley, WesTech Engineering, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT
Discussion Leader: John Van Gehuchten, MS, P.E., Honor Engineering, Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 1:15 – 5:00 PM

Industrial wastewater treatment is challenging. Various industries like semiconductor, food, power, petrochemical and mining are addressing their wastewater treatment needs through creativity and innovation. Treatment includes water reclamation and reuse, changing technology, operational optimization, and trace constituent removal. Water is an important and limited resource and treatment of wastewater is an essential part of a sustainable solution.

IWC 24-25: Preliminary Technical Assessment for Wastewater Reclamation to Feed UPW Lines
Matthew Kovic, Isle Group, Jupiter, FL; Carles Crespo, Isle Group, Milan, Italy; Antonia Frisia, Isle Group, Lausanne, Switzerland; Magela Odriozola, Isle Group, Utrecht, Netherlands

This project outlines a strategy for wastewater reclamation to support a semiconductor manufacturer’s expansion. Focusing on reclaiming wastewater effluent to feed ultrapure water (UPW) lines, the study conceptualized an advanced treatment train. Key phases included assessing intake water flows and qualities, designing a process flow diagram, consulting suppliers, and performing cost assessments. Results show that the treatment train can meet UPW requirements while ensuring compliance with discharge limits, with recommendations for pilot implementation and optimization.

Discusser: Daniel Wilson, Kiewit, Austin, TX

IWC 24-26: Conversion of Dissolved Air Floatation System to Suspended Air Floatation System Helps Dairy Facility Maintain Wastewater Treatment Targets during Production Increase
Joshua Reed, Brown and Caldwell, Boise, ID; Dillon Allen, Chobani, Twin Falls, ID; Dominic Pontarolo, Brown and Caldwell, Boise, ID; Houston Flippin, Brown and Caldwell, Nashville, TN; Michael Mecredy, Brown and Caldwell, Nashville, TN; Krystal Perez, Brown and Caldwell, Seattle, WA

A dissolved air flotation system (DAF) was used for primary wastewater treatment by Chobani at their production facility. The existing DAF body was retrofitted to incorporate suspended air flotation (SAF) equipment allowing for higher loads while maintaining treatment targets. Presentation includes background on the SAF technology and an operational comparison between the DAF and SAF. Additionally, lessons learned and critical design values from the design, installation, startup, and operation of the equipment will be discussed.

IWC 24-27: Evaluation of Iron-Based Media for Selenium Removal from Water
Paul Togna, Envirogen Technologies, Inc., East Windsor, NJ; Robert Loken, Envirogen Technologies, Inc., Kingwood, TX

Granular iron-based media can remove selenium and other oxyanions via reduction reactions and adsorption mechanisms. These media come in a wide range of sizes, densities, porosities, and other specifications (e.g., chemical modifications) that affect performance and cost. In this evaluation, we compared the performance of several iron-based media formulations, including their ability to remove selenium (selenate), their fluidization characteristics that impact treatment vessel size, iron attrition rates, and the impact of chloride and sulfate.

Discusser: Shannon Brown, Woodard & Curran, St. Charles, MO

IWC 24-28: Restoring Performance of RO Membranes with Severe Scaling from Contaminated Tailing Pond Water Source using Specialty Cleaners
Amit Sankhe, H2O Innovation, Vista, CA; Sara Alves, H2O Innovation, Vista, CA; Gregory Sato, H2O Innovation, Vista, CA

Tailings Water contaminated with mining waste undergoes RO treatment to make it safer for return to the environment. This RO system was experiencing several performance issues, mostly fouling and scaling related, that would result in low normalized permeate flow and cleanings every 1-2 weeks with generic cleaners. A third-party membrane autopsy was performed to understand the foulant composition. This paper will discuss the autopsy results in detail and will also address the selection process of an appropriate specialty cleaner based on the foulant composition, foulant location and plant design. The performance recovery after cleaning with specialty high, low and silica-specific cleaners will be discussed and compared to historic data of the system when cleaned with generic cleaners. For remote locations, such as the case at this site, specialty cleaner selection is often influenced by several factors. Ergonomics, ease of use, extreme storage conditions and transportation are seldom used as a criterion for chemical selection but were considered in this specific case during the chemical selection process.

Discusser: David Stanek, Westech Engineering, Salt Lake City, UT

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