MANTECH has a solution for 15 minute COD Analysis – Green, Safe and Fast
Mantech is changing the way we test water quality with a new technology that is safer for humans and the environment.
It’s called the PeCOD analyzer and, after a recent successful testing of the technology’s performance, the Guelph-based company is set to launch it across North America and Europe.
“We definitely think we have a safe, green alternative to test water quality,” says Robert Menegotto, Mantech’s president and CEO.
Water quality testing involves the measurement of the oxygen-depletion capacity of a water sample contaminated with organic waste matter. This is called chemical oxygen demand (COD) testing. Right now the COD is determined using chemicals, including potassium dichromate, mercury and concentrated sulphuric acid. A water sample is added to these chemicals and the sample is then heated for two to three hours before results can be measured.
“With the current method we have these hazardous chemical materials sitting in labs,” says Menegotto. “Dichromate by itself can be extremely harmful. It’s a carcinogen, a mutagen and a reproductive toxin. It’s a really nasty chemical.”
In fact, the European Union has recently responded to the potentially harmful effects of potassium dichromate by declaring a ban on the use of the chemical which will come into effect in 2017. Japan and South Korea have already banned the chemical and Sweden and Norway currently require authorization to sell it. As a result, organizations across the globe are in the midst of looking for a safer alternative for water quality testing and Mantech’s PeCOD analyzer is poised to be the solution.
Instead of the current method, which uses acid-activated potassium dichromate and high temperatures to oxidize the organic waste, the PeCOD analyzer, which stands for photo electrochemical chemical oxygen demand, uses ultraviolet-activated titanium dioxide nanotechnology.
“It takes the water sample and only oxidizes the contaminant using UV and titanium dioxide,” says Menegotto. “Through the oxidization process, electrons are released and we measure these electrons. The electron levels are directly related to COD. We have essentially eliminated the need for any harmful chemicals when it comes to water quality testing.”
“Not only is this new method safer, but PeCOD technology is also faster and more effective,” adds Menegotto.
Using the current method, results take at least a couple of hours, but a PeCOD analyzer can provide results in less than 15 minutes.
“This means you can get a result about water contamination hours earlier,” he says. “That’s significant when you think about contaminants being discharged into a lake.”
For manufacturers, having fast results will enable them to more effectively monitor the water they are sending out into the sewers.
“If something does go wrong, this technology can provide the information to ensure quick decision-making and containment,” says Menegotto. “This has a positive impact on the environment and the company.”
For wastewater treatment plants, this quicker method will enable them to more easily monitor the effluent when it first hits the plant and optimize costs by ensuring the treatment process is efficient, he adds.
“Instead of getting COD results a few times a day when the lab staff are on site at a wastewater treatment plant, you can essentially have results 24 hours a day, seven days a week because it’s so quick and easy to use.”
“The technology has also been found to be more effective in that it’s able to pick up certain contaminants that the current method can’t,” says Menegotto.
“The chemistry we use is better at reading contaminants. Titanium dioxide has almost double the oxidizing efficiency compared to dichromate making it more precise. For example if a company dumped benzene into a lake the current method couldn’t detect it, but a PeCOD analyzer could.”
In order to meet the growing demand for an improved water quality testing method that is free of harmful chemicals, Mantech has been carrying out due diligence, proving the innovative technology’s accuracy so that it can be brought to market. One of the key players in making this happen has been the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC).
The SOWC has helped Mantech propel this technology forward by connecting the company with Professor Ed McBean, a lead researcher in wastewater at the University of Guelph. Together they were successful in receiving an NSERC Engage Grant from the Canadian government to test the effectiveness of the technology.
“The support from SOWC has definitely benefited Mantech,” says Menegotto. “We have learned a lot. One of the most important roles SOWC plays is to help companies with introductions and networking. It’s one of the non-profit pieces that has helped us and will help anyone in the water sector.”
In October 2013, Mantech and McBean began working on establishing a credible result of the PeCOD analyzer’s performance. As part of this project, a PeCOD analyzer was used to collect water samples from the City of Guelph Wastewater Treatment Plant and results were compared against the current method being used at the plant. The researchers collected samples from the raw effluent coming in from the sewage system. They also collected samples from three different spots inside the plant as the water moved through the treatment process and from the final effluent that flowed back out into the environment.
“It was important to see if the PeCOD could effectively measure samples and provide a good correlation to the method currently being used,” says Menegotto. “The results were excellent. The most successful part was that the City of Guelph purchased a PeCOD analyzer after they learned of the results.”
In addition to the research conducted by McBean, the PeCOD technology has also been tested by organizations interested in the technology including the Ontario’s Ministry of Environment (MOE). The MOE recently published Method E3515, a new method for testing for COD without potassium dichromate. The two-year project involved using a PeCOD analyzer to test, verify and certify Method E3515.
“PeCOD is now officially the Ministry of Environment’s water quality test method,” says Menegotto.”The Ministry ended up purchasing a second PeCOD analyzer and is now using the technology for compliance, enforcement and legal sample testing.”
The effectiveness of the PeCOD analyzer has also been tested by Dalhousie University researchers at several drinking water treatment plants to determine if the technology can be applied beyond water effluent compliance and wastewater treatment. The initial results show that this technology has the potential to improve drinking water treatment, says Menegotto.
“The PeCOD can measure the actual organic contamination versus only the total organic carbon. This is of significant importance for drinking water treatment and security. This new market potential is larger than the wastewater market already identified for PeCOD and the opportunity for sales growth and job creation in Canada is substantial.”
Currently, the PeCOD technology can be used in a number of environments, including in the laboratory and out in the field. There is also an online unit that can run unattended, taking samples and analyzing them every 30 minutes.
There are nearly 100 PeCOD units already installed worldwide and Mantech is in the midst of gearing up for a boom in sales given the current global shift towards a safer method.
“The potential customers for this technology are endless. From wastewater treatment plants to a broad spectrum within the manufacturing sector, everyone has to check their water quality,” says Menegotto. “At the end of the day our goals are the protection of the public and the protection of the environment.”
To learn more about how SOWC can help your research and grant needs, please email Anna Ziolecki, Manager of Research Partnership Development or contact her at 519 888-4567 x31799.