Water Environment Federation's Matt Ries on Methanol in Wastewater Treatment
Methanol plays a crucial role in reducing environmentally-damaging effluent that is discharged by wastewater treatment facilities across the globe. The high levels of ammonia that accompany the waste processed by these facilities each day requires a bacterial degradation, which converts the ammonia into nitrate. If this nitrogen-rich effluent is released into watersheds, however, it can have a devestating impact on water ecosystems.
Through a process known as "denitrification", water treatment facilities convert the excess nitrate into nitrogen gas which is then vented into the atmosphere, thus eliminating its ability to cause algal bloom in watersheds and block oxygen and sunlight from reaching marine life below the surface. Methanol is the most common organic compound used in denitrification, accelerating the activity of anerobic bacteria that break down harmful nitrate.
Nearly 200 wastewater treatment facilities across the United States are currently using methanol in their denitrification process. The Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Facility, one of the largest in the country, continually meets, if not exceeds, national standards for nitrogen loadings in water each year. Furthermore, the addition of methanol to the denitrification process has saved Blue Plains, and many plants like it, millions of dollars over the long-term.
For more information about methanol's role in wastewater treatment, please visit our Environment Resources