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Investigating biomass density in biological activated carbon media with 2nd Generation ATP


Editor’s note:

This post was authored by one of our clients – Research Laboratory Services (RLS). They are a research, consultancy, and laboratory testing service provider based in Melbourne, Australia with offices in the USA and New Zealand.

With over 20 years of experience in the portable and wastewater treatment industries, RLS specializes in analysis and optimisation of a wide range of treatment processes. With a particularly strong focus on biological activated carbon (BAC) media filtration, RLS closely follows advances in measurement and analysis technologies to ensure they can provide their clients with state of the art solutions.

Research Laboratory Services (RLS), in conjunction with Activated Carbon Technologies (ACT) and Veolia Australia, are involved in a pilot plant situated at Veolia’s Castlemaine Water Treatment Plant in rural Victoria, Australia. The pilot plant consists of 4 columns filled with virgin granular activated carbon (GAC) media, two of which are fed with filtered water, with the other two fed with ozonated, filtered water. The operation began in March 2017.

The project aims to investigate the following phenomena:

  • Rates of the establishment of stable biomass on media fed with non-ozonated and ozonated feed waters.
  • Variations in biomass density between non-ozonated and ozonated feed column media.
  • Variations in biomass diversity between non-ozonated and ozonated feed column media.
  • Performance of BAC in terms of organics (colour, UV254 and dissolved organic carbon (DOC)) removal.
  • Performance of BAC in terms of minerals removal.
  • Comparison of biomass density and diversity characteristics in the newly established pilot columns to the full-scale BAC media which has been in operation with ozonated feed water for 15 years.

RLS is using a range of techniques to analyze biological density and diversity on the media from each of the columns, as well as media from the full-scale BAC filters at the Castlemaine plant. The LuminUltra Deposit and Surface Analysis (DSA) test kits are part of the suite of analyses, with RLS keen to investigate applications of this technology for providing a rapid assessment of biomass health within BAC media biological communities.

Initial results are encouraging, with the ATP levels of the non-ozonated feed media being consistently higher than those of the ozonated feed media. Furthermore, all pilot column media has had consistently lower ATP than the full-scale BAC filter media. Average ATP levels are approximately 33,000 pg/g for the ozonated feed media, 52,000 pg/g for non-ozonated feed media and 318,000 pg/g for the full-scale BAC filter media. This suggests that the pilot column media biomass does not have the density of the full-scale BAC media, which is confirmed by media plate counts.

As the pilot plant continues to run and the biology on the pilot column media continues to stabilise, further sampling and analysis are being conducted, with the ultimate goal being to gain sufficient confidence in the ATP data such that it may be used as a rapid tool for assessing BAC biomass health. Based on the RLS experience to date, the LuminUltra DSA test kits are shaping up to be a highly useful addition to the biological analysis toolbox.

Pilot plant situated at Veolia’s Castlemaine Water Treatment Plant in Victoria, Australia.

Peta Thiel

Peta founded Research Laboratory Services in 2002 after working as a Chemist on site at a drinking water treatment plant in Queensland, Australia. Peta’s BSc (Chemistry) combined with the practical operation and hands on analysis of both full scale and pilot scale water treatment plants fostered her passion for research and development, particularly in treatment technologies such as ozone and activated carbon filtration. Research Laboratory Services is a small team of dedicated professionals that conduct biological activated carbon (BAC) aging profiles for all the full scale plants in Australia and New Zealand.

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