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It’s a fairly well-known wastewater fact – fats, oils, and grease block wastewater pipework. Despite this, these materials still end up in the American sewer system on a regular basis. In this article, we take a look at this problem and how Chemtech products offer a solution.

Why Are Fats, Grease, and Oils Such a Problem?

Fat, oils, and grease can be enormously problematic for residential and industrial infrastructure. This is due to the way these substances behave in wastewater. They do not dissolve into the wastewater and instead are carried in an emulsified state or simply as a mixture with other components of the water outflow. Once released into the system, these substances are deposited in areas where the flow rate decreases – for instance, at points of constriction or at bends and junctions in the pipework. Over time, these deposits build to form blockages in the system, eventually resulting in complete obstruction of pipework.

This is already a significant problem, but it is exacerbated by the prevalence of this kind of material. From home kitchens to workplace canteens and restaurants to textile manufacture and a wealth of other industrial applications, the use of fats, oils, and grease is common. If this usage – and subsequent processing and disposal of materials – is not properly controlled, this will have severe implications for wastewater infrastructure.

The Problem of Fats, Grease, and Oils Across the Wastewater Journey

Fats, grease, and oils are not just problematic around wastewater outflows. Instead, they pose a significant risk to the entire wastewater system. When deposits build up in hard-to-reach locations within the system, they become difficult to remove.

Sewer Systems

Sewer systems are designed to handle waste from different sources across a municipality or another area. This translates to a high volume of wastewater. When fats, grease, and oils are found within this wastewater, the results can quickly get out of hand. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, reports that these materials are responsible for 47% of blockages in the sewer system.

Septic Systems

Fats, grease, and oils also cause serious problems for septic tank care. These materials result in blockages within septic systems, building up and reducing the efficacy of these solutions. When this occurs, unprocessed waste can be released into the nearby water table, causing significant human and environmental health hazards.

Stormwater Systems

Stormwater systems are intended to prevent flooding after sudden increases in water volumes, such as after a storm or period of heavy rain. They are not designed to process this excess water, so contamination can be a real issue. Fat, grease, and oil contaminations are particularly problematic for two reasons. One: they can cause blockages within the stormwater system, resulting in flooding when water is not effectively rerouted. Two: they can cause contamination and pollution in the local water table if they are carried through the storm drain and beyond into nearby environments.

Solving the Fat, Grease, and Oil Management Problem

Removing fat, grease, and oil deposits is an expensive exercise. It is estimated that New York City spends around $4.65 million per year on removing “grease backups.” As a result, it’s far better to work proactively and preventatively.

Preliminary Care and Control

For industrial facilities and large-scale municipal plants, pre-treatment and separation of fats, grease, and oils can prevent problems further down the line. Investing in solutions that digest and remove these materials during the pre-treatment phase will save these facilities money in the long run.

Broad Education and Understanding

Much of the contamination comes from residential properties. Local authorities should consider investing in education and awareness programs that reduce the amount of fat, grease, and oil contamination in residential sewer systems.

Storm Drain Protection

Keeping oils, fats, and grease out of storm drains is a major priority for municipality facility and industrial site managers. In the event of a spillage, teams must deploy solutions that block storm drains temporarily until the contaminant is cleaned up and dealt with. Chemtech’s products can help you achieve this at your own site – spill containment berms and storm drain protection solutions can keep any unwanted materials out of stormwater systems.

Effective Digestion and Removal

It is possible to break oils, fats, and grease down in an effective manner, eliminating the danger of blockages, obstructions, and environmental damage. By adding powdered blends to the preliminary treatment phase of the wastewater management process, hazardous oils and fats are effectively removed. These blends include micro-organisms and micro- and macronutrients, as well as components designed to penetrate the surface tension of the wastewater so the digestant can get to work. Within the blend, you’ll find aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, offering strong enzyme activity to convert lipid molecules and other components into carbon dioxide and water.

Tailored Solutions for Specific Industries and Applications

Fats, oils, and grease are not uniform. Instead, different sources produce their own forms of these contaminants, and this requires a diverse and considered approach to mitigation. In municipal systems, general digestion may be the most effective – a set of bacteria and enzymes that break down the majority of fats, oils, and grease that enter the system. However, those operating in specific industries may need a more targeted set of digestants. For instance, the textile industry may require its own specific blend of microorganisms, micro- and macronutrients, and other ingredients to achieve the proper digestion of oils found in this sector – Chemtech products like CHM 203 are formulated with this in mind.

Find What You Need in Chemtech’s Range

The problems associated with fats, grease, and oils may be well-known wastewater facts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to overcome these issues. Whether you are looking to achieve effective septic tank care, protect your storm drains from contaminants, or improve the way you process and pre-treat your industrial wastewater, Chemtech’s products provide the answer. Explore our range to find the products you need, or reach out directly to our team to discover more about what we can do for you.