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Chemical Treatment of Liquid Waste Streams

John Huang, Ph.D., PE and John Poullain, PE

This two-hour online course provides general guidelines for treating industrial and hazardous liquid waste streams by chemical and physical chemical processes. The guidelines assist in the selection of remedial actions for treating hazardous and toxic waste (HTW) contaminants. The methods include precipitation, flocculation, sedimentation, neutralization, oil-water separation, reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration. The basis for selecting a treatment method, criteria for optimum performance, advantages and disadvantages are presented for consideration. Remedial actions performed at a contaminated site must comply with federal and state regulations.

Treatment of liquid waste renders such waste and any residues left from treatment methods non-hazardous and safer to dispose of, to transport or to store. Liquid waste includes: leachates, ground water, surface water, industrial discharges, city street runoff, mining activities and effluents generated by landfills and other treatment measures. Liquid wastes vary considerably depending on the type of activity generating them; waste from the oil industry contains oily substances and hydrocarbons while galvanic industries generate heavy metals. Ground water may be contaminated from fuel storage, chemical leakage, fuel spills, underground pipeline failures, runoff of chemical preservatives, uncontrolled disposal of HTW materials and other sources. Contaminants include chlorinated, aromatic or polycyclic hydrocarbons, solvents, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide or heavy metals.

There are many treatment methods, which function by various chemical and physical means or in combinations. All methods are sensitive to heavy metals, oil and grease by varying degrees. Methods such as ultrafiltration can handle suspended solids better than other methods such as reverse osmosis. Physical processes treat suspended solids either by allowing them to settle out (sedimentation) or to float to the top naturally. Or the process may use stirring or agitating actions to cause particles to contact each other and stick together without or with chemical additives (flocculation). Chemical flocculants produce larger particles. Particle flotation can be aided with dissolved air under pressure or under vacuum conditions (dissolved air flotation). Chemical processes include precipitation, flocculation, neutralization and solidification. Membrane processes include reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration and other filtration systems.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.