Removal of Naturally Occurring Uranium with Purolite A300E
In October 2017 an engineering group in the Midwest required an immediate solution to high uranium levels at a local waste water treatment plant (WWTP). The WWTP was suffering from large concentrations of the radioactive isotope U-234. While the national maximum content level (MCL) for uranium is 30 ppb, the municipality has its own MCL set at 15 ppb. Uranium is found in nature as a mineral, but when is leaches into water it can become a problem for living organisms. Toxic levels of uranium in public drinking water are linked to chromosome damage, cancer and kidney failure.
Already in a partnership with Purolite on a previous water softening project, the company provided details on this new project in hope of finding a fast, reliable resolution. After consulting with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) source, it was determined that ion exchange would be the Best Available Technology and an appropriate solution to the plant’s issue.
Purolite’s team of sales and technical representatives developed a small-scale proposal for the client’s engineering group. The proposal included calculations using the influent and effluent concentrations of uranium to determine the appropriate resin capacity and removal efficiency. It was concluded that Purolite® A300E resin was the best installation option for uranium removal at the WWTP. These recommendations were taken to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for approval to move forward. Approval was given by the vice president of the engineering group to move forward on Purolite’s proposal and a pilot was approved by the DNR and ran from January – May 2018.
The pilot unit was designed to reflect the capabilities of a full-scale unit. The goal of the pilot was to measure influent and effluent total uranium concentrations, to get removal efficiency, and predict resin capacity.
During the on-site pilot column study, the WWTP ran into a couple of setbacks, including:
- A pump being used with the pilot did not meet required flow specifications.
- A facility issue delayed the pilot during the specified time frame and necessitated an extension on the timeline.
Purolite was able to work with the new goals and issued a price for the pilot and purchase of resin suitable for the plant. The facility inquired about a variable speed pump to adjust flowrates proportionate to different Empty Bed Contact Times with A300E Resin. Purolite stepped in by finding an appropriately sized pump to meet the flow rate specifications and incorporated it into the design with less than a one-week turnaround. Throughout the duration of the pilot run, Purolite representatives were available to assist the engineering group and WWTP with any questions or concerns both over the phone and on site.
The engineering company expressed their satisfaction with Purolite products and will continue to use the recommendations provided. Due to the always-available and timely support, the group will also suggest Purolite to other companies in need of removing contaminants from potable water. Purolite works closely with each of their clients to provide high quality products and unsurpassed customer service.