Nicotine and COD Removal from the Tobacco Industry

Background

Major tobacco processing facilities have approached Arvia for treatment support in different stages of their value chains.

Common applications include reducing the overall organic loading to enable wastewater recycling, as well as the targeted removal of nicotine for compliant discharge to the local sewer.

Preliminary studies show that inadequately treated wastewater containing organic compounds which eventually leaches into aquatic ecosystems, becomes acutely toxic to fish and microorganisms. This can lead to severe pollution of local waterways surrounding these facilities and negative press for the offending organisations.

An existing solution for the removal of these compounds is to collect the wastewater and truck it off-site for specialist treatment. Not only is this labour intensive for the company, it also comes with expensive recurring costs and environmental impacts.

The Projects

Tobacco processing facilities have been looking for more cost-effective and sustainable methods which are in-line with their water management plans.

Client One was looking for a complete closed-loop solution in which Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) would be reduced from 50mg/L to as close to zero as possible. This wastewater could then be reused for other purposes around the facility, including cleaning.

Client Two was looking for an on-site solution for the removal of nicotine from wash water collected from e-cigarette liquid vessels between production batches. Their existing process was to truck all wash down water off-site for specialist treatment as they are not permitted to release this water to sewer, due to the nicotine content.

The Solution

In both cases, Arvia’s Nyex™-a system was deployed which combines adsorption with electrochemical oxidation in a single, scalable unit.

Organic contaminants are preferentially adsorbed, localising them onto the surface of the carbon-based Nyex™ media. A low electrical current is then passed through the media bed which fully mineralises the adsorbed contaminants to H₂O, H₂ and CO₂. The electrical current simultaneously regenerates the surface of the media in-situ, allowing for further adsorption and treatment without interruption or incineration.

Results are achieved without chemical dosing or the generation of sludge reducing costs in terms of labour, transport of chemicals and specialist waste disposal.

The Results

Client One: The project involved the treatment of wastewater using a Nyex™ 1-20a system at the client’s site on samples of wastewater taken at the final stage of their existing treatment train, for advanced ‘polishing’ treatment.

The inlet water was analysed at a COD level of around 50 mg/L and final samples were just above the limit of detection, as requested.

Client Two: This work was conducted to demonstrate the ability of the Nyex™-a technology in removing nicotine from wash water, containing their e-cigarette liquid.

For this study, the Nyex™ 1-20a was employed at Arvia’s in-house laboratory facilities. An inlet nicotine concentration of 9.84 mg/L was trialled, resulting in a 0.41 mg/L outlet concentration following treatment – a removal rate of 95.8%.

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