Understanding the spatial formation and accumulation of fats, oils and grease deposits in the sewer collection system

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Sanitary sewer overflows are caused by the accumulation of insoluble calcium salts of fatty acids, which are formed by the reaction between fats, oils and grease (FOG) and calcium found in wastewaters. Different sewer structural configurations (i.e., manholes, pipes, wet wells), which vary spatially, along with other obstructions (roots intrusion) and pipe deformations (pipe sags), may influence the detrimental buildup of FOG deposits. The purpose of this study was to quantify the spatial variation in FOG deposit formation and accumulation in a pilot-scale sewer collection system. The pilot system contained straight pipes, manholes, roots intrusion, and a pipe sag. Calcium and oil were injected into the system and operated at alkaline (pH = 10) and neutral (pH = 7) pH conditions. Results showed that solid accumulations were slightly higher at neutral pH. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis on the solids samples confirmed that the solids were indeed calcium-based fatty acid salts. However, the fatty acid profiles of the solids deviated from the profile found from FOG deposits in sewer systems, which were primarily saturated fatty acids. These results confirm the work done previously by researchers and suggest an alternative fate of unsaturated fatty acids that does not lead to their incorporation in FOG deposits in full-scale sewer systems.

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