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PUC, Argonne research foundation for future technology

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



HAMMOND — More than three years of cooperative research by Purdue University Calumet and Argonne National Laboratory have revealed promising technologies aimed at reducing industrial pollution into the Great Lakes.

On Tuesday, researchers from Argonne and Purdue Calumet’s Water Institute highlighted the groundbreaking study, funded by $5 million from BP Products North America, Whiting.

The research teams conducted laboratory studies on several technologies that could treat total suspended solids and ammonia in refinery wastewater, and those that remove mercury and vanadium from wastewater.

The study drew wastewater from Lake Michigan from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Several technologies were tested in reducing mercury and vanadium levels to below new EPA limits of 1.3 parts per trillion and 280 parts per billion, respectively, George Nnanna, director of the Water Institute and co-lead scientist on the project said.

“Our research teams have conducted more than 30 bench-scale treatability studies in seven technology categories,” Nnanna said.

Three of the technologies—filtration, adsorption and reactive filtration were found to be potential options, Argonne researcher M. Cristina Negri said.

Pilot testing, which is beginning at BP, will be conducted through December, when a report of the findings is expected to be complete.

Nnanna said the research was an example of a cooperative effort by industry, government academia and a national laboratory to address a common problem.

“We can really do great good to the environment,” Nnanna said. “These studies will serve as the foundation for further studies, These results are good not just for industry but for the community.”

The effects could be far reaching, even outside Northwest Indiana, he added.

Two pilot tests to remove the metals are being conducted at BP now, and will continue through the summer, with the results expected by December, said Argonne researcher Patricia Gillenwater,

“This is an important step and we need to see how it works outside the lab in the real world,” BP spokesman Scott Dean said after the briefing. “We’ll begin testing the pilot units and see how they work 24/7 in various types of weather and take it from there.

“This work on metals is to meet new EPA regulations,” Dean said.

Under the current expansion, BP has its own pollution control, and dedicated $1.5 billion to upgrade the environmental performance of the plant, Dean said.

BP’s annual mercury discharge, he said, is 1.5 tablespoons per year. “But nevertheless we’re very interested in finding ways to make our own very small discharge of mercury even smaller.”

Contact Diane Krieger Spivak
at 648-3076.



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