Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 08, 1998

New technology cleans up milkhouse wastewater

A new invention by University of Guelph researchers is providing dairy farmers with a solution to the expensive problem of harmful milkhouse wastewater.

The "floculator" can remove up to 99 percent of the harmful phosphorus -- as well as most of the residues -- left behind in milkhouse wastewater. The unit, invented by researchers at the University's College d'Alfred, is being marketed by Premier Technologies of Quebec City.
Milkhouse washwater has plagued the dairy industry for years. To keep Canada's milk supply safe, farmers wash their equipment and holding facilities after each milking. But the washwater is laden with phosphorus, which is harmful to water supply, and milk fat residue, which clogs septic tile fields.

The floculator removes organic matter and phosphorus from the wastewater, using lime as a coagulating agent. The unit contains an agitator that mixes washwater and lime in a tank. This causes the phosphorous, organic matter and lime particles to collide and bind into clumps or "flocs." Once the agitation stops, the bigger, heavier particles settle, allowing most of the original volume of washwater to be discharged phosphorus and fat free from the tank. The remaining sludge, representing about 10 per cent of the original volume, is directed to the existing manure storage. The clear effluent is infiltrated in the ground and recycling is possible with an additional treatment step.

College d'Alfred researchers Ian Malcolm, William Kollard and Claude Weil spent seven years developing and testing various methods to deal with milkhouse wastewater. The floculator's concept is derived from technology found in large-scale wastewater treatment plants. It was Malcolm's idea to apply it to milkhouse wastewater. Patents on the invention are held by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and University of Guelph.

Initial research was sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ontario Milk Marketing Board and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. The subsequent floculator development was sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and through a "pilot plant" project whereby pilot systems were installed for a fee at locations across Canada and the United States. Floculator systems in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and New York State were funded by individual producers with help from numerous conservation programs.

Researchers at College d'Alfred are now using the floculator technology to develop ways of treating "brown water" - rain runoff from manure piles mixed with milkhouse washwater.

For more information, contact Claude Weil, College d'Alfred, 613- 679-2417; Lyne Roy Arcand at Premier Technologies at 418-867-8883, or Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Guelph, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.September 23, 1998

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