Delving Into the Science Behind Solidification
Solidification of liquid waste streams, including drilling mud, wet hydro excavation material and tunneling spoils, started out as a very rudimentary process. Dry material (i.e. dry dirt) would be added to wet material (i.e. drilling mud) in order to get a dry (solid) material that was suitable for transportation and disposal. A solid material is classified as one that passes the paint filter test or the slump test, depending on the regulatory environment. This process typically required the addition of large amounts of dry material which meant that the treated material increased in volume and weight significantly (bulking effect). Even though this bulking effect is undesirable, the alternative was to let the material dry naturally, which takes a large amount of space and time, or use liquid/solid separation process (i.e. presses, centrifuges), which are very capital intensive and requires on-going maintenance.
MetaFLO introduced proprietary, polymer-based reagents that transformed liquid wastes into a solid with extremely low addition rates (.25 -2% by weight). However, the application methodology as well as a clear understanding of the science behind these polymer-based products in the wet spoils applications were still in their infancy. Since 2010, MetaFLO has taken a leading role in the industry and put together a R&D team that focused on enhancing solidification reagent performance through internal and collaborative efforts with industry and academic partners.
We discovered that there was essentially no existing scientific knowledge on the application of polymer-based solidification reagents in current literature. Based on common questions that clients brought to us, along with treating hundreds of samples, we developed various research focuses which include:
- Examining the geotechnical properties of MetaFLO solidified materials
- Potential degradation of polymers under anaerobic conditions with active microbial communities
- Studying the effects of the reagent components on various toxicity tests
- The effectiveness of absorption in broad pH and saline environments
- Beneficial re-use opportunities for clean, solidified materials as soil amendment for plant growth.
- Mechanical application for effective medium distribution
The results from these studies give MetaFLO a scientific depth of knowledge that allow us to more effectively assist clients in meeting their specific requirements.
MetaFLO developed in-house laboratory capabilities to further determine liquid waste characterization for our clients. This is crucial as there are various factors that have an impact on the solidification process. These include,
- Solids content
- Particle size distribution
- Hydrocarbon content
SOPs have been developed in order to characterize all samples that are received as well as provide a detailed report on solidification expectations, anticipated dosage for desired results and mixing methodologies.
MetaFLO will continue to be a leader in the liquid waste solidification market with on-going research and a culture of continuous innovation. We have a deep understanding of the science behind solidification, and equally important, we know when solidification is not the correct solution for the application. As a result, our clients can feel confident in knowing that their solidification project will be a success.