By taking a proactive approach to understanding your facility’s odor sources and what technology is needed, you can effectively use plant-based solutions to neutralize troublesome odors and provide a friendly environment for your workers and community neighbors.
By Dr. Laura Haupert
Municipal sludge, solid waste, composting and co-composting facilities, landfills and waste transfer stations often face scrutiny regarding odor emissions around their workers and surrounding communities. To be a good neighbor and prevent potential backlash around their worksite, facilities in these industries are placing an increased focus on odor control.
However, this is easier said than done. The solid waste process is complex and involves multiple drops, collections, transfers and sorting material. Another step in the process—combustible materials —can also be incinerated for energy production, which leads to more obnoxious odors.
Masking agents fail to accomplish anything more than a temporary cover up during these processes. Natural, plant-based odor control solutions are being implemented in their place to neutralize the odor molecules themselves. Through a unique mode of action, multiple delivery methods and rigorous safety qualifications, plant-based methods are resulting in safe and complete control of odor emissions in a variety of industries, including solid waste.
While odor is a common issue, how facilities are tackling odor control challenges on their sites vary. The reason? Each site’s odor control challenges are different, and each needs a solution tailored to their worksite.
Start at the Source
The first consideration for any odor dispersion system is to know where the odor is emanating from. You need to start at the source. It is important to understand not only where the odors are coming from, but also what sort of system and area you are trying to treat. Both factors must be taken into account to determine the technology needed to fight those odor sources.
For example, an area like a waste transfer station can contain many variables a facility manager must consider, including:
• Every truck that enters the facility carries odor, but does that odor significantly contribute to your facility’s overall problem?
• Tipping floors are a common source of odor in waste transfer stations, but each area can be unique. Some tipping floors are located in an enclosed building while some are completely open.
• Some waste transfer stations are connected to recycling centers—this could be another source of odor.
• Is the waste being transferred to another location? Those trucks might have odors associated with them.
It is impossible to create an effective solution without understanding where the sources of your facility’s odor are coming from, so ensuring you know the sources of odor is a critical first step in preventing them.
Determine the Cause
After clearly identifying the sources of odor at your facility, the next step is to determine what is causing the odor. Odor production can have many characteristics, including its concentration or molecular weight, that can deem whether it is detectable or not.
We sense odors when the structural characteristics of their molecules stimulate the body’s olfactory sensory cells that are responsible for processing smells. In addition to molecular structure, odors produced by plants and animals contain many different characteristics.
Is the majority of waste at your facility food waste? Is it trash that is heavy in grease? Is it a construction landfill? The diverse range of smells and odor causes in landfills and solid waste facilities calls for a researched-backed approach to the control method. Once the cause of the odor is determined, the plant-based solution that will remove those odors can be identified.
Consider Environmental Factors
Outside conditions play a major role in how odor is emanated, and subsequently treated in solid waste facilities. Temperature, humidity and wind all must be taken into consideration when determining the delivery method for your odor control solution. In colder temperatures, fewer odors are going to be noticeable on your site. As soon as it starts getting warmer, you are in a world of trouble.
Plant-based odor control delivery equipment can be customized to disperse product based on environmental conditions. For example, in a landfill, equipment can be set to only disperse if the wind is blowing in a certain direction. You can also take it from the perspective of how much product you need to disperse. If you are only receiving odor complaints during an eight-hour period, you can set your system to only run during that time. This customization allows facility managers to have complete control over the time, money and product they are investing in odor control.
Delivery Methods of Plant-Based Solutions
Each delivery method of plant-based odor control serves to combat different molecular and structural characteristics of odor. What is more, the flexibility of how plant-based solutions can be delivered offers another benefit to engineers and plant managers. With multiple delivery methods, these solutions provide a more versatile and cost-effective option over implementing more capital-intensive odor control methods, such as expensive ventilation systems or complex scrubbers.
Atomization occurs when concentrated odor eliminator is mixed with water to form droplets that are pumped through pipes to areas affected by odor. As the droplets are applied, they immediately come into contact with odor molecules and the neutralization process begins. Atomization is used in industrial processes and material handling.
The atomization process provides a high level of control. Depending on the system design, the product volume, surface area and spray method can all be set. Atomization systems come in the following formats:
• Air atomization systems
• Custom-designed systems
• Explosion-proof systems
• Fan atomization systems
• High-pressure atomization systems
Plant-based solutions can be applied in either high- or low-pressure systems. High-pressure systems treat odors by dispersing fine mist into the air, which treats both escaping gas emissions and surface odors. Low-pressure systems apply a solution and water mixture through a fan’s jet stream, creating a fine mist over a large area.
Vaporization disbursement methods contain no added water, only the undiluted odor solution. Like atomization, the plant-based solution is vaporized into sub-micron droplets, piped through a distribution system and dispersed to bond with odorous gasses to neutralize their malodors.
Vapor delivery rates can adapt to many different locations and applications, even freezing temperatures. Because no water is used, vaporization allows for cost savings, enhanced cold-weather reliability, water conservation and an enhanced eco-friendly delivery method.
Most facilities are opting for vaporization systems where ducting carries the plant-based solution in submicron form to the source of the odor, neutralizing it on contact. In addition, these systems require minimal maintenance.
Spray gel solutions are applied directly to an odor source material to block odors from escaping. This application is ideal for:
• Sludge handling and transportation
• Open-bed waste trucks
• Working faces of landfills
• Soil remediation projects
• Solid/semi-solid materials that continuously emit odors
Spray gels represent a safe, earth-friendly plant-based solution to eliminate industrial odors. A range of systems are available to evenly spray this semi-liquid material over odorous materials in trucks and storage sheds, around landfills or as they are released from machinery such as tillers or graders.
Navigating Proper Odor Control
As facility managers begin to consider odor control, it is important to see what resources are out there to help. Start with the facility managers onsite, communicating what the facility needs are and determine the sources and causes of the odor.
With transfer stations, sometimes the only place you need odor control is on the tipping floor and no perimeter system is needed. That is the benefit of working with an odor control company on a solution that is tailored for your individual site. By doing so, you can get everything you need from an odor control standpoint, and nothing you do not.
Proactive site managers take an approach of understanding their facility’s odor sources and what technology is needed to combat those sources. Doing so is the only way to effectively use plant-based solutions to neutralize troublesome odors and provide a friendly environment for your workers and community neighbors. | WA
Dr. Laura Haupert is Director of Research and Development with OMI Industries (Palatine, IL). For more information, visit https://omi-industries.com.