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Downstream of a WESP, the RTO can receive a multitude of residual particles from the air, including those found in water vapor. These particles are left behind in the media and can plug it up, causing it to become dysfunctional. Hydro blasting and/or caustic cleaning may clean the media successfully, but it is only effective for a few cleaning cycles--and it's expensive. The other repair option is to replace the media, which can cost millions of dollars between the materials, labor, and plant downtime.

To prevent RTO media fouling, you have to know what's going in to the RTO; that is, you must know the inputs. In this way, you can predict what may linger behind on the media that could foul it and then implement a method of removal prior to the RTO. RTO inputs include both coarse and fine particles. Coarse particles (those over 5 microns) may be dust or liquid droplets. Likewise, fine particles (those less than 1 micron) can be liquid or solid, depending on their makeup. Fine particles are typically formed when vapor cools and condenses into a particle and can include oils, resins, and iron as as a solid. Liquid fine particles such as tars and lignins will be left behind deep within the RTO media as the water evaporates. Some fine particles such as sodium and potassium oxides and others, like chlorides, can cause more damage than plugging. Because they are chemically reactive, they will actually react with the makeup of the media itself at high temperatures. This reaction can cause the media to become brittle. One way to save on costly repairs and replacement is to prevent the inputs from entering the RTO in the first place. Removing or reducing water contaminants such as tars, lignins, sodium, potassium, and chlorides from the water fed to the WESP prevents any of those liquid fine particles from entering the RTO. This can extend the life of the RTO media life indefinitely.

CleanWESP for the Wood Industry

CleanWESPTM is a chemical treatment program designed to remove damaging contaminants from recycle tank water in order to protect valuable equipment and save time. ProChem, Inc. performs a treatability study on the water from each customer site to determine the appropriate treatment program for that situation. The goal of CleanWESP is to protect valuable equipment, saving the customer down time and maintenance costs.

The Engineered Wood & Pellets industry make products such as OSB board, paneling, treated lumber, and wood pellets (burned for energy production). These processes, like all manufacturing processes, use water. All the water that these facilities use is reused back into their process. That's right, the wood industry is very water conscious. These operations utilize valuable equipment like Wet Electrostatic Precipitators (WESP) and Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers (RTO). These units require regular maintenance as excess tars and saps found in the water can gum (sticky seal, like resin) the equipment. It cost as much as $1 million (yes, one million) to replace the RTO media when it becomes fouled. When it is replaced, the plant has to be shut down. That $1 million doesn't include the costs associated with the down time, added labor, or waste disposal... So, the treatment of the water they reuse is a key cost saving factor for these operations, not to mention performance insurance for their equipment. Remember, if the manufacturers are saving, the consumer is too. ProChem, Inc. designs chemical treatment programs that protect the WESPs and RTOs so that the water is usable and the equipment lasts. Here is a case study from a ProChem customer, a Bio pellet manufacturer in Georgia: The customer was incurring high costs associated with maintaining their process equipment. Specifically, they were:

  • Replacing their RTO media every 2 to 3 years.
  • Shutting down the plant once per month to clean their equipment (taking about 70 man hours each time).
  • Storing water on site during downtime, which resulted in non-compliance violation notices.
  • Disposing of 100 tons of 80%+ moisture solids from their centrifuges.

The cause was the poor quality of their water, which contained excess tars, saps, tannins, and lignins. To resolve this issue, ProChem, installed a new water treatment system that utilized a custom tailored chemical treatment program, CleanWESPTM, to remove TSS, tars, and saps while reducing the TDS in the recycle tank water. This provided the customer with cleaner recycle water and clean WESP flush water. ProChem also provided a treatment program for the shutdown water so that the facility could treat and discharge within discharge permit limits (rather than storing it on site).

CleanWESP for the Wood Industry

It has now been over 9 years since the system was implemented, and the customer has not had to replace the RTO media at all in that time. Additionally. their costs and manpower required for routine planned maintenance has been reduced by 80%. Furthermore, solid waste generation has been reduced by 60% - 70% with filter case now at 40% - 50% moisture (as compared to the previous 80%+).

Wood Industry Water

The EPA recently rolled out the final, updated ELGs for the power generation industry. ProChem and EES have partnered to provide a solution that not only meets these limits but exceeds them. The KLeeNwater solution features ProChem’s I-PRO™ technology and a recommended chemical pretreatment program. Here is the data.

Analyte Unit Daily Maximum Limitation 30 Day Average Limitation KLeeNwater Process
Arsenic μg/l 11 8 <0.1
Mercury μg/l 0.788 0.356 <0.05
Nitrate/Nitrite mg/l 17 4.4 <0.1
Selenium μg/l 20 12 <0.1
Total Suspended Solids mg/l 100 30 0
Boron mg/l No current limit No current limit 0.5
Bromides mg/l No current limit No current limit <0.1
Chlories mg/l No current limit No current limit 7
Total Dissolved Solids mg/l No current limit No current limit 10
Sulfates mg/l No current limit No current limit 2

KLeeNwater can be integrated with existing wastewater treatment equipment and has a footprint that is a fraction of the size of traditional selenium removal systems. ELG compliance is possible with the KLeeNwater solution.

Advantages & Solutions

  • Eliminate load cycling issues associated with traditional biological systems
  • Capital costs 10% of traditional biological systems
  • Reuse 95+% of the water available instead of treating and discharging
  • Operating costs similar to biological and significantly cheaper than other reuse systems
  • Meet today’s regulations (Selenium and Nitrate/Nitrite) as well as potential future regulations
  • No additional capital or operational costs to meet potential future permits
  • Industry proven technology
  • Modular design provides simple installation with small system footprint

For more information, visit:

-or- contact EES: 203.270.0337 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ProChem recently assembled and delivered an Ion-Exchange Pilot System for a new customer. This pilot system will remove nitrates from the customer’s wastewater. This system will be placed at the customer’s site for several weeks to demonstrate how the full scale process will work.

Pilot System Features

  • Skid-mounted and accessible by fork lift or pallet jack
  • Four 14.7″ x 40″ FRP vessels with poly liners
  • 2.5cuft ion-exchange media
  • Distributor system
  • Plumbed using 80PVC and 1″ high purity water braided tubing
  • Polypropylene pre-filter housing (20″)
  • 1/2 HP, 120V booster pump
  • Brine tank for on-site regeneration of ion-exchange media
  • Feed tank and effluent tank (275 gallons each)

Pilot System Images

Before it left our assembly warehouse, our Water Systems team tested the pilot system.

Ion Exchange Pilot System  Columns and Tubing_mountains When Water Matters and valves  Pilot System Switches  

ProChem strives to help their customers establish the highest level of credibility and a positive reputation within the regulatory community. Their goal is to significantly reduce the amount of fresh water that manufacturers require by providing sustainable solutions that will also benefit the customer’s bottom line.

ProChem is not the only industrial wastewater treatment company who is tweeting, posting, writing, and speaking about drought in the United States. Companies who provide products and services that support the treatment and handling of water for industrial facilities hear a call to action during drought.

You may be wondering why that is, under the assumption that big industry has plenty of water to make goods for people; that drought only impacts families who don’t have water to drink or for recreation, right? After all, these state-wide conservation mandates seem to be focused on individual communities and homes. It's true that industrial facilities use a very large amount of water: thousands of gallons per day in order to produce the goods that citizens purchase and consume. When there is a serious drought, as in California and much of the west coast, favoritism is not granted to these corporations. Water conservation quotas apply across the board to industry (high volume users) and households (low volume users). When the average home has trouble getting the volume of water they’re used to for watering their lawns, cooking, and drinking, you can bet that industrial facilities have more difficulty getting the volume of water they need to make products that keep their doors open—and their workers employed. Water is not only essential for life, it’s essential for the economy.


Wastewater treatment professionals are innovators who develop technology that is meant to lessen a facility’s impact to the environment. In ProChem’s case, it is their water reuse system with I-PRO™, which was developed with conservation and sustainability as the driving force. I-PRO™ allows industrial facilities to recycle their wastewater at a rate of over 90%. Some of ProChem’s customers are achieving 97%+ with their water reuse system. This means that these facilities are consuming a fraction of the water they would without the I-PRO™ system. The less water they consume, the more money they save, which allows them to continue operating and providing their goods, services, and employment to the community. More importantly, during a drought, it means that the water they are not using remains available to the community for use. Industrial wastewater treatment companies like ProChem exist because they care about water quality and sustainability. It’s their business but also their calling. The “water problem” isn’t a new one, but severe drought brings this problem to each of our doorsteps, reminding us that we have to take action. Hundreds of companies are utilizing water reuse systems and taking other water conservation steps. ProChem is proud to provide the wastewater treatment chemistry, equipment, and professional operations services that help industrial facilities contribute to a drought solution in their community.  

ProChem strives to help their customers establish the highest level of credibility and a positive reputation within the regulatory community. Their goal is to significantly reduce the amount of fresh water that manufacturers require by providing sustainable solutions that will also benefit the customer’s bottom line.