Lithium Tracer Tests

What is a lithium tracer test?

It’s the most effective way of testing any wastewater plant to ensure that it’s doing what it was designed to do – at maximum process efficiency.

Wastewater treatment plant tanks (normally aerobic or anaerobic systems) often suffer from issues that reduce their efficiency and could result in a plant’s wastewater output being above permitted pollutant levels.

Lithium tracer tests can identify commonly occurring problems like high grit levels, low mixing efficiency, hydraulic retention time (HRT) and short-circuiting.

Our lithium tracer tests

By commissioning Aqua Enviro to run lithium tracer tests, you’ll ensure your plant is working at maximum efficiency without any issues.  We have three levels of service to suit every user – and every site:

Full service

In order to maximise effectiveness, any AD Plant needs to be working at peak efficiency. There are many reasons why it may not be, and our full service is designed to identify mixing efficiency, active volume, short circuiting and many other potential issues.

Using a combination of multiple tests over a period of three hydraulic retentions together with expert analysis from Aqua Enviro’s engineers, it’s normally possible to identify any issues with the plant and recommend remedial solutions resulting in meaningful efficiency increases and biogas yields.#

Intermediate service

Our intermediate service is designed for an AD plant to demonstrate regulatory compliance for the annual ‘tank capacity and sediment assessment’ requirement and we recommended it is run annually.

Primarily it will concentrate on an analysis of the active volume and grit deposition. It will act as a good indicator of the state of the whole plant, ensuring you are aware of any potential issues that may occur in future, as preventative maintenance is always worthwhile.

Basic Service

Aqua Enviro also offer a basic service for AD plants. This concentrates on the mixing efficiency of the system and is often a good indicator of whether further investigations need to be made, or in the case of existing installations, the system needs maintenance.

Lack of mixing efficiency is the most immediate indicator of potential issues with an AD or sludge treatment system and is often used to determine performance against contractual requirements during commissioning or a takeover. It can often be concluded in a single day.

Why use lithium tracer tests

Using a lithium chloride tracer is a safe and proven method of obtaining accurate results from any anaerobic digestion of organic waste, producing biogas or activated sludge.

Although it is also possible to use thermal imaging or dyes to test some reactors, lithium tracer testing delivers more accurate results and can be used in all types of installations.

Uniquely, it also offers data on mixing efficiency, active volume, short-circuiting and dead zones and can be delivered for installations with concrete or steel tanks with lagging (something thermal imaging cannot do) and without the need to remove any tank insulation.

Anaerobic digester plant maintenance

Because of the way an AD plant works, the process requires stable conditions to work most efficiently.

Anaerobic digestion plants use specific bacteria to break down organic matter in an oxygen-free environment into biogas, within the reactor.

The anaerobic digester process works best in a completely mixed environment without too much grit or sludge build-up. That’s why it’s important to know the mixing efficiency, active volume and whether there are any short circuits in an anaerobic digester hich only lithium tracer testing can deliver. For more details of how your AD plant could benefit from our on-site testing, contact us today.

Activated sludge plant maintenance

Like anaerobic digestion, an activated sludge plant is an accelerated natural biological treatment process.  The main difference is that oxygen is an integral part of the process. Activated sludge plants rely on plug flow designs to maximise their efficiency.

At Aqua Enviro, we are experts in deploying lithium tracer tests to identify these problems, ensuring an efficient plant.

For more information, please call us and discuss your issues with a someone who understands the science, here at Aqua Enviro.

Benefits of using a lithium tracer test

Only a lithium tracer test will ensure you are efficiently treating wastewater and in the case of AD systems, generating the maximum volumes of biogas.

A full-service test from Aqua Enviro will enable readings to be made of mixing efficiency, active volume, grit deposition and point up any issues like short-circuiting or hydraulic resistance.

Increase mixing efficiency of your AD plant

For maximum biogas production and organic material removal the contents of any anaerobic digester plant need to be efficiently mixed.  Inefficiencies can lead to short-circuiting and other issues that may eventually lead to poor performance and over-permit outputs.

Reduce short circuiting

If the hydraulic retention time (HRT) is proven to be getting shorter, it’s often an indicator that short-circuits are present inside an AD reactor.  This is often due to reduced mixing efficiency and can lead to discharge of untreated or partially treated feedstock.

Increase active volume of your ASP or AD plant

Grit and sludge build-ups also account for a decrease in the active volume in both AD plants and ASP plants. In anaerobic digester plants, grit can settle, thus reducing volume. In activated sludge plants, poor plug flow performance can lead to a decline in operational performance within the reactors and failure to comply with permits.

Increase biogas output of your plant

Biogas is a by-product of all anaerobic digestion of biomass and in many countries, it’s counted as a renewable. Energy from biogas (methane / biomethane, in fact) can be used to power much of any wastewater treatment plant’s machinery. It’s therefore important to optimise its production and regular lithium tracer testing is a vital part of this.

Comply with environmental agency regulations

It’s important that environmental agency regulations are adhered to as non-compliance can lead to fines and prosecutions. Part of this compliance is regular testing of outflows from AD and ASP plants, something that a lithium tracer test can indicate a need for.

What is involved with a full lithium tracer test

Depending on the level of service chosen (see above) and whether testing is to be carried out on an anaerobic digestion process or an activated sludge plant, engineers from Aqua Enviro will be with you for time periods ranging from a day to regular site visits for several weeks. Every plant is different with varying access requirements as well.

Initial site assessment

The first thing we will need to do is to visit your site and create a comprehensive Risk Assessment and Method Statement to ensure all staff can work safely on site.

They’d also decide on the best sampling locations of the digester tanks and cover any other site-specific considerations.

Lithium dose into system (without interruption of the system)

On the first day of testing, one or more of our on-site personnel would attend to start to dose the system(s) with the lithium tracer. This doesn’t slow down or curtail operations in any way, and in most cases won’t take up much of your staff’s time.

Sample collection

Following dosing with the lithium tracer tests, samples would be taken every 30 minutes over a period of anything up to ten hours. Depending on the level of service chosen, this may be repeated several times in a 6-8 week period.

Full tracer test analysis

Every single lithium trace test sample taken is then analysed at our comprehensively equipped lab in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Samples may be taken at regular intervals over several days or weeks and all are carefully checked and logged.

Report of the findings

After all samples have been analysed, our experts will create a report according to the service level chosen and submit this to you along with our recommendations. Lithium trace testing is one of the many wastewater treatment testing regimes we offer.

How long does it take?

We work to varying service levels so a basic lithium trace test for one AD may just take a day and results can be with you just a few days after that.  A full service will take several weeks to complete the sampling and will require greater analysis.

How often should you do lithium tracer tests?

We recommend a full service is carried out every three years with  an intermediary service to check active volume and demonstrate regulatory compliance every year in the intervening period. However, there are many variations, so to find out more and speak to an engineer who understands the science of wastewater, please call on t.  01924 242255 or E.

For more information about how Aqua Enviro
can help you, contact us...

Dr Mikael Khan

Business Development Manager

01924 242255

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