Surfactants are some of the most difficult things to breakdown in wastewater, especially true in the winter months, and are possibly one of the most recurring issues for wastewater plants. Surfactants, or surface activating agents (a fancy name for soap), are generally long, stable molecules that lower the surface tension of water and can produce foaming, bulking, filaments, or simply a dead plant.
One type of surfactant is Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and if incompletely broken-down can lead to loss of nitrification, toxicity, high TSS, and if they reach a waterway incompletely broken-down NPEs can have an adverse effect on the aquatic habitat.
Another chemistry that is related to surfactants is the use of Quaternary ammonia in wastewater. Quaternary ammonia is a heck of a cleaner and often referred to as Quat. Many types of Quat are used in cheese and milk plants and they will kill a plant. In dairies, Quat is used as part of their Clean-in-place (CIP) process.
Where do they come from?
Surfactants come from homeowners and industrial contributors. These high molecular weight soaps are use in industrial cleaning supplies by companies with a high standard for cleanliness.
What’s the solution?
The following two products were formulated to break the long chain carbon bonds that are resilient to degradation.