A large amount of hazardous waste comes from the industrial and commercial sector, and a main contaminant in these waste streams are the components of chemicals, oils and hydrocarbons. According to Karim Esmail, technology director at the British Research Establishment (BRE): “Contaminants such as these can be pre- treated and wastes diverted from hazardous landfills if cost-effective technologies can be found.”
With this in mind, BRE has developed the Eco-Bio process, which is designed to take chemicals and hydrocarbon oils in effluents and decontaminate them to their basic components. The process has been demonstrated on a large scale in a number of different waste streams, such as waste oil treatment, landfill leachate, sewage and chemicals.
The Eco-Bio process is an enhanced biological treatment that relies on accelerating the natural microbial activity of degrading micro-organisms. The process introduces nutrients, vitamins and bio-stimulants, typically referred to as micronutrients, containing specific selections of biocatalysts, minerals and trace metals. These sharply catalyse the waste effluent streams with natural micro-organisms. Contaminations can be treated in- or ex-situ for soils and effluents using Bio-Swift bioreactors.
The most obvious applications for Eco-Bio is in treating contaminated soil and spillages, to render soil clean and free of hazardous compounds. Large-scale trials conducted at Cardiff Bay’s gas remediation works demonstrated the application for treating contaminated soil ex-situ using the commonly known bio-pile techniques. Typically, the hydrocarbon levels were brought down from 3,000 mg/l to under 300 mg/l in less than nine weeks. It rendered the soil capable of meeting consent requirements to build, making the treatment ideal for consideration in the use at proposed land farms and remediation sites.
Similarly, during a recent spillage following an accident at the Conoco Philips tank farm in Teeside, crude oil from the tanks had dispersed across a large bund area made of rock and natural sediment. Eco-Bio products were spread on the surface to remediate, and the result was elimination of crude oil on surface and soil within 20 days with no digging and dumping of contaminated soil.
As the regulations and waste acceptance criteria become tighter, Esmail believes that innovations such as the Eco-Bio process will provide an alternate, cost- effective method of dealing with contaminated waste streams at source or pre-treatment stage.
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