Activated Carbon Services & GACMan Software

WRc has an established in-house capability to provide independent specialist advice and technical assessment of water micro-contaminant removal by activated carbon, helping to reduce carbon costs at wastewater treatment works.

Rob Camm is our expert in Activated Carbon Services

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Micropollutant removal from water

The demand
With an ever-changing contaminant profile and evolving regulatory constraints, potable water treatment faces a constant challenge to find the most cost-efficient way to remove specific micro-contaminants. These can include pesticides, algal toxins, taste and odour compounds, and pharmaceuticals.

The method
Activated carbon is an effective and proven treatment for removal of natural and polluting micro-contaminants from water. Available as powdered carbon (PAC) or granular carbon (GAC). There are many suppliers, grades and carbon source materials, and the relative performance of GAC types can differ considerably depending on the nature of the water and contaminant.

The problem
A GAC bed would be expected to last at least a year, making pilot plant trials impractical and expensive for comparing GACs. The capital cost of activated carbon as well as the operating costs of regenerating the material when it is spent are significant. As a result, selection of the most cost-effective product for each application and the monitoring of residual capacity for part-spent GAC are vital tools in controlling those costs.

Our expert solution

At WRc we have established in-house capability to provide independent technical assessment of micro-contaminant removal by activated carbon, using batch isotherm tests for PAC and small-scale rapid column tests (RCTs) for GAC.

These laboratory scale tests offer a proven alternative to pilot plant trials for comparing GACs, and predicting full scale plant performance, within periods of only a few weeks. WRc has extensive experience in carrying out RCTs, and facilities for carrying out the tests on up to four GACs or suites of compounds in parallel.

The results from these tests can be used in the WRc GACman simulation model, to evaluate alternative designs and operating scenarios for full-scale GAC plant.

How we can help

  • Characterisation and condition assessment
  • Physical analysis of virgin media or core samples
  • Hydraulic performance of filter media utilising our pilot scale facilities
  • Initial screening of GAC products by batch isotherm testing
  • Leaching characteristics of GAC utilising our pilot scale facilities
  • Generalised adsorption capacity (Iodine number tests)
  • Contaminant specific adsorption capacity for GAC using continuous flow RCTs
  • PAC selection and dose requirements using contaminant specific isotherm tests
  • GAC performance modelling utilising WRc GACMan software

    Offering bespoke, client-oriented consultancy

    Our dedicated team will liaise with you to agree the most appropriate solution to managing your activated carbon inventory. Our test results will provide you with a unique and site-specific insight into achieving cost-effective performance.

    Gain insights from leading experts and developers

    GACman, a tool developed by WRc to predict adsorption of a wide range of contaminants, is used by several water supply companies to optimise the design and operation of their GAC adsorbers.

    Cost- and time-effective treatment process

    WRc’s use of RCTs for GAC can simulate several years of full-scale operation over just a few weeks, tailored to simulate the process conditions at the treatment works. Along with our GACMan software, this offers a cost-effective alternative to expensive pilot plant trials.

    GACMan software

    Modelling adsorption in water treatment

    • A mathematical model
    • How GACMan can help you
    • Benefits of GACMan
    • Options for your needs

    GACMan incorporates a fundamental mathematical model of adsorption that predicts the concentration profile of an adsorbate as it passes through the adsorber bed.

    The model assumes external film and surface diffusion mass transfer mechanisms, while adsorption equilibrium is described by the Freundlich isotherm.

    • Predicts the removal of a wide range of contaminants from water, by single or multiple absorbers. 
    • Features a built-in library of contaminant data for common pesticides and benchmark GAC products. 
    • Calibrate GACMan for a specific application using laboratory, pilot plant or full-scale data.
    • Design of efficient and cost-effective plant.
    • Optimised scheduling of GAC regeneration to achieve maximum bed life and minimum regeneration costs.
    • Rapid evaluation of ‘what if’ scenarios, such as changes in contaminant concentrations or flow rate.

      Design mode: GACMan predicts the performance of a single adsorber and is used to determine the contact time necessary to obtain a desired bed life or regeneration frequency.

      Simulation mode: GACMan is used to simulate the performance of GAC at full-scale to predict the quality of the blended works output as well as the performance of individual adsorbers. Regeneration of an adsorber is triggered when the contaminant concentration in the adsorber effluent exceeds a specified concentration.

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      Rob Camm

      Project Manager (Laboratory Testing)

      Rob's expertise lies in analytical techniques and instrument evaluation relating to water treatment processes. He is extensively involved in the design and operation of laboratory and pilot scale investigations and process investigations at full scale. Rob also has in-depth knowledge for the design and operation of pesticide removal studies.