Preserving and efficiently utilising water resources is a global priority aligned with sustainable development goals. Water quality is of great importance in industrial settings due to its impact on operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, and environmental responsibility.
One often underestimated yet profound challenge in the water quality in industrial settings is the interplay between pH levels and algae. Algae thrive in environments where pH levels are elevated, as this alkaline environment provides them with optimal conditions for growth. Consequently, high pH levels can encourage excessive algae proliferation, leading to a range of problems in industrial water systems.
In this article, we explore the intriguing interplay between algae and pH levels in the context of industrial water management.
pH Levels Unveiled
pH, or “potential hydrogen,” is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity in water, it plays a crucial role in industrial water management. It is a logarithmic scale that ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral, values below 7 indicating acidity, and values above 7 indicating alkalinity. In the context of industrial water, maintaining the right pH level is critical. Water with extreme pH values can corrode pipes and equipment, leading to costly maintenance and reduced operational efficiency.
Algae Blooms: The Unseen Challenge
What makes pH levels particularly intriguing in industrial water management is their role in fostering algae growth. Algae species thrive in alkaline or high-pH environments and can produce moldy odors and oxygen depletion, complicating water quality. When these algae die off, their biomass accumulates as sludge, posing maintenance challenges.
Furthermore, the presence of algae in industrial water can lead to a situation where the very process of algae growth, specifically through photosynthesis, results in an elevation of pH levels. Algae, through photosynthesis, release oxygen into the water. This excess oxygen can elevate pH levels, making the water more alkaline. High pH levels can lead to corrosion of equipment and pipelines, creating further operational problems.
The Industrial Imperative: Keeping pH and Algae in Check
Monitoring and controlling pH levels are crucial to prevent algae blooms. Failing to manage pH levels can lead to equipment damage, increased costs, regulatory non-compliance, and environmental harm.
The proliferation of algae can have a significant impact, pushing pH levels beyond the permissible limits set by regulatory bodies such as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The inability to comply with the discharge limitations in their permit could result in fines and potentially result in the inability to operate the generating units. Not being able to discharge could also result in damage to the equipment, resulting in increased costs for the plant.
The Role of Technology: Advanced Solutions for Industrial Water Quality
Chemical treatments are effective and offer fast results, yet they kill the algae only after they’ve grown and caused problems. They need to be frequently dosed and aren’t environmentally safe. Also, chemicals may cause corrosion and other problems within a water treatment plant. Some may even raise pH levels.
Modern technology offers a range of advanced solutions to manage pH levels and algae growth effectively. Implementing continuous monitoring and automated control systems such as the MPC-Buoy from LG Sonic can ensure real-time adjustments to maintain desired pH levels and control algae without chemical use.
Real-world Applications: The Intersection of pH, Algae, and Industrial Water
Understanding the pH-algae connection is vital, but how does it translate into real-world applications within industrial settings? Let’s take a closer look at Power generation facilities as an example. Cooling ponds play a crucial role in power generation, but excessive algae growth can push pH levels beyond permissible limits. To comply with regulations, power plants must implement strategies to manage algae and adjust pH levels before discharging cooling water.
NIPSCO, a power plant in the United States, successfully implemented the MPC-Bouy solutions in their reservoir. NIPSCO uses a large reservoir for settling out suspended solids prior to discharging the water back to the Kankakee River. This water is rich in nutrients, causing algae to grow at an undesired rate. Algae has a direct effect on pH and TSS levels in water. NIPSCO began its cooperation with LG Sonic with the main goal of reducing TSS levels to comply with NPDES Regulatory Discharge Limits. After installing the units, they managed to reduce algaecide and eliminated a UV Blocker chemical from their treatment program. This resulted in improved water quality and a positive environmental impact. NIPSCO calculated that using LG Sonic technology, just by reducing chemicals alone, the ROI of MPC-Buoys would be less than 2 years. This shows how using advanced technology to deal with pH and algae issues isn’t just good for operations but also makes sense financially and environmentally.
In industrial water management, understanding the connection between pH levels and algae is crucial. As we’ve seen, maintaining the balance between pH and algae growth can prevent equipment damage, reduce maintenance costs, ensure regulatory compliance, and protect the environment. By embracing advanced technologies and proactive strategies, industries can navigate this dynamic relationship, ensuring the health and sustainability of their water systems while simultaneously advancing their operational goals.