A Brussels materials manufacturer is giving new technology a shot at removing selenium and other heavy metals from its wastewater.
Based on trials at its Hoboken, Belgium,
plant, Munich-based Umicore will use a new system in which biofilters seeded
with specific strains of naturally occurring non-pathogenic microorganisms will
produce treated effluent wastewater that meets or exceeds stringent regulatory
standards for removal of selenium and other heavy metals.
The ABMet system, short for GE’s advanced
biological metals removal process is a wastewater bioreactor technology that
will be employed to clean up metals from wastewater discharges at Umicore’s
precious metals recycling facility near Antwerp, Belgium. As the first
full-scale installation of ABMet in Europe, the project will help Umicore
achieve low parts-per-billion levels of heavy metals in wastewater discharges.
The simple low-energy system can achieve
up to 99 percent removal of selenium and can discharge treated effluent
containing 5 ppb or less of selenium, depending on wastewater makeup, according
The Hoboken facility recovers a range of
precious and specialty metals from recycled industrial and consumer goods,
producing a complex wastewater stream requiring different unit operations to
remove and recover metals before discharge.
The ABMet system comprises microbes
seeded in a bed of activated carbon, which acts as a growth medium for the
microbes to create a biofilm. Wastewater passes through the biofilm and a
reduction reaction occurs, facilitating the conversion of soluble selenium into
elemental selenium, which is then removed from the system along with other
metals and nitrate. A proprietary molasses-based product is used as a nutrient
for the microbes. Other than the addition of the nutrient, the system is
self-sustaining once established.
Removing Heavy Metals Naturally
July 24, 2012