Revolutionising leachate management

Australian wastewater treatment company Aerofloat has been working in the leachate space for several years, making a name for itself for custom-built designs that meet the specific needs of councils and companies.

Australian wastewater treatment company Aerofloat has been working in the leachate space for several years, making a name for itself for custom-built designs that meet the specific needs of councils and companies.

Michael Anderson is the general manager and one of the co-founders of Aerofloat. He’s created patented wastewater products that improve maintenance requirements, increase product efficiencies and lower costs for Australian councils and companies.

“The safe and sustainable management and treatment of industrial waste poses significant challenges to councils across Australia,” said Anderson. “Aerofloat has emerged as a pioneering force in designing cutting-edge leachate treatment plants that exemplify environmental responsibility and innovation. We have worked with several councils across Australia to manage complex wastewater, including leachate waste.”

Leachate can be contaminated and potentially hazardous, as it can contain a mixture of organic and inorganic substances, ammonia, heavy metals, and other pollutants. Leachate composition depends on the types of waste materials in the landfill, their decomposition stage, and various environmental factors.

“Leachate is a complex mixture of dissolved contaminants that arise from the percolation of rainwater, moisture from waste materials, or other liquids through landfills and waste disposal sites,” he said. “Often referred to as “landfill juice,” it can be a highly contaminated liquid that results from this interaction of water with the decomposing waste materials in landfills.”

Managing leachate essential task

Managing leachate is a challenge for waste management facilities to prevent environmental pollution. Proper containment and treatment of leachate are essential to avoid the contamination of groundwater, surface water, and soil.

Landfills and waste disposal sites require robust systems to collect and treat leachate to minimise the environmental impact. Managing leachate waste requires a wastewater treatment design based on a thorough understanding of the make-up of the leachate and expected contaminants.

“Leachate can contain numerous pollutants,” said Anderson. “If not properly managed, it can infiltrate surrounding soil and groundwater, leading to widespread environmental degradation, water pollution, and health hazards.”

Shellharbour City improving systems

Shellharbour City Council contracted Aerofloat to design and construct a new leachate treatment plant for the Dunmore Recycling and Waste Disposal Depot to combat rising disposal costs. The site lacked upstream storage. As a result, the leachate quality was highly variable, with ammonia reaching 2000 milligrams per litre.

Aerofloat installed three large concrete tanks comprising an anoxic reactor, a nitrifying reactor, and its unique sequence batch reactor (AeroSBR).

“The site at Dunmore has been operating effectively since installation well over a year ago, ensuring a sustainable solution for Council and Dunmore Recycling and Waste Disposal Depot,” said Anderson.

“To complete the build, internal recycle pumps were installed between the reactors,” he said. “Treated effluent was decanted into a treated effluent tank then pumped to the sewer.”

Chemicals are added during process phases to optimise the effluent quality and technology performance, including sucrose as a carbon source and caustic soda for pH correction. Any excess biosolids are pumped into a thickening tank for disposal by Council.

Key to any leachate treatment plant is managing the nitrification and denitrification processes to remove ammonia nitrogen from the leachate before discharge to the sewer.

“The nitrification and denitrification processes are critical in treating the leachate. Aerofloat effectively treats the high ammonia levels so that only high-quality effluent is discharged to the sewer,” said Anderson.

Kicking goals in leachate treatment

Aerofloat’s leachate treatment system for Shellharbour City Council achieves an effluent quality suitable for discharge to Sydney Water’s sewer, with a design capacity of around 65 cubic metres per day and an average ammonia concentration of 1250 mg/L.

“Aerofloat critically analysed the process design from the beginning. The team leveraged its in-house knowledge and experience in treating industrial wastewater. Once the civil works and large tanks were constructed, Aerofloat made the build seem simple, despite being a very complex project,” said James Brumpton, Shellharbour City Council Project Manager.

The plant was contained within a concrete bund and included a purpose-built mezzanine floor that kept all critical mechanical and electrical systems safe. An automated PLC system allows operators remote monitoring capabilities so that they have eyes on the plant even when not on site.

Aerofloat’s success with its design for the Dunmore leachate plant was just the tip of the iceberg for its movement into the leachate area. It is currently working on multiple leachate plant builds for councils and Australian companies in Queensland and New South Wales.

“We’ve built in-house expertise, and our delivery process is unique compared to others in the market,” said Anderson. “We design our electrical control systems, circuit boards, switchboards, and automation processes in-house. It’s part of our design philosophy and unique to the industry. This remains a strength of Aerofloat, as we can provide highly customised and automated layouts for anything our customers throw at us. We also create 3D models of each project, so we can make any changes or tweaks to suit our customers.

“Our plant at Dunmore can manage peak loads of 2000mg/L of ammonia and can readily treat load increases of over 50 per cent. We’re currently working on similar projects in Queensland that demand a complex understanding of how to effectively treat the leachate specific to those sites.”

A detail-oriented approach ensures Aerofloat’s projects all achieve the same high standards.

“Aerofloat’s leachate treatment plants employ a combination of advanced treatment processes that ensure effective removal of contaminants from the leachate. Each leachate treatment scenario is unique, depending on factors such as the composition of the leachate, site-specific conditions, and regulatory requirements,” said Anderson. “Our job is to ensure that we understand the specific requirements of the regulatory authority and meet the Council or company’s mandates.”

Tailor-made for every customer

Aerofloat provides tailor-made solutions optimised for maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact. It integrates energy-efficient technologies into its leachate treatment plants, reducing operational costs and lessening the overall carbon footprint of the treatment process for its clients and the community.

“Aerofloat’s designs are not only technologically advanced but also compliant with local and international regulations pertaining to waste management and water quality. Non-compliance is not an option for us; our designs must ensure a sustainable, compliant result for our clients both now and long-term,” said Anderson.

This adherence to regulatory standards underscores the company’s commitment to responsible engineering and environmental stewardship. It is also known across the wastewater industry for being pioneers in innovation.

“Innovation remains at the heart of Aerofloat’s approach, and we invest in research and development to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our treatment processes,” said Anderson.

Innovation key focus of Aerofloat

This commitment to innovation enables its engineering team to stay at the forefront of leachate treatment technology.

“Aerofloat’s leachate treatment plants are designed for long-term sustainability. By incorporating robust materials, efficient maintenance protocols, and adaptable designs, our plants contribute to the longevity of waste management infrastructure for all of Australia,” said Anderson.

Aerofloat has firmly embedded itself into the industrial wastewater management sector, offering patented technology and off-the-shelf products to address a range of industrial wastewater treatment needs.

Through its advanced treatment processes, energy-efficient designs, and customised solutions, Aerofloat paves the way for a cleaner, safer environment, proving that environmental challenges can be transformed into opportunities for positive change with the right blend of expertise and innovation.

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