Delivering Integrated Water Treatment for Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls, Inc. Florence, South Carolina, USA
Supporting Johnson Control’s lead-acid battery recycling operations, CDM Smith designed and built a modern system to treat stormwater and industrial wastewater in South Carolina, USA.

The Power of Recycling
The typical automotive lead acid battery contains about 10 kg of lead and must be properly disposed of to protect public health and the environment, but the lead and other components can be reclaimed for reuse. Johnson Controls’ lead-acid battery recycling centre in Florence, South Carolina, plays an important role in that mission, recycling 132,000 tons per year—the equivalent of more than 14 million automotive batteries. CDM Smith supported this progressive envi­ron­men­tal stewardship through the fast-tracked design-build imple­men­ta­tion of the centre’s stormwater and industrial wastewater treatment plant. Collec­tively, this integrated treatment system employs modern envi­ron­men­tal controls to protect the public and the environment while advancing Johnson Controls’ recycling capa­bil­i­ties.

litres per day treatment capacity
litres of stormwater treated and reclaimed daily
litres reused daily for wheel washing and facility cleaning

Integrated Approach
The dual treatment system collects and treats the centre’s industrial process wastewater and the site’s stormwater runoff. To meet permit limits for safe discharge, the wastewater system treats the recycling centre’s process effluent with chemical pretreat­ment and pH adjustment, clar­i­fi­ca­tion and sand filtration. A portion of the treated effluent is reused onsite, with excess discharged to the publicly owned treatment works. The advanced system provides for variable wastewater treatment by using an equal­i­sa­tion storage tank to test wastewater influent and adjust pre-treatment chemicals for treatment opti­mi­sa­tion. A dilute electrolyte tank and pumping system can receive more concen­trated wastewater, which is fed into the treatment facility at a controlled rate and avoids expensive offsite removal.

The state-of-the-art facility also addresses Johnson Controls’ unique zero-discharge stormwater requirement. “To protect the scenic Great Pee Dee River, we made a commitment that the recycling centre would not discharge any stormwater,” states Timothy Lafond, Johnson Controls executive director of envi­ron­men­tal engineering. Stormwater from factory roofs and non-roofed areas adjacent to the air pollution control systems is collected and stored in an 8.7-million-litres, high-density, poly­eth­yl­ene-lined impoundment. Impounded water is treated for debris and potential cont­a­m­i­na­tion with basket strainers and multimedia sand filtration and used as the lead smelter scrubber make-up water. “This stormwater treatment system, built to contain a 100-year storm event, even surpasses existing groundwater quality and reduces spray nozzle maintenance.”

A Second Life
Approx­i­mately 87,000 litres a day, 30 to 40 % of influent flow, of treated wastewater effluent is reused for wheel washing, facility cleaning and toilets—daily displacing 22,700 litres of municipal potable water and 64,400 litres of groundwater from the onsite well field. An additional 135,000 litres a day of stormwater is treated and reclaimed, primarily for scrubber makeup water that is subse­quently treated by the wastewater treatment process. The system not only protects the environment, but provides beneficial water reuse and reduces dependence on municipal supplies. Even dewatered sludge is recycled onsite for reclamation of metals, further reducing envi­ron­men­tal impact.

On the Fast Track
Design-build was selected to accelerate the facility’s delivery, allowing it to be online within 10 months. This goal was accom­plished even with significant scope changes—changes resulting from our iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of necessary technical elements not included in the original project scope—that were success­fully incor­po­rated into the design to meet the expedited schedule. Speeding imple­men­ta­tion further was a carefully coordinated construc­tion schedule that had all major equipment installed directly after building slab completion and framing erection and prior to wall panel instal­la­tion. Addi­tion­ally, schedule coor­di­na­tion allowed the various building trades to complete their work in a small footprint while avoiding conflicts.

To accommodate the site’s complex hydrology, the facility’s foundation and 398,000-litres wastewater equalisation tank can withstand potentially extreme settlements from a seasonally high groundwater table, extensive clay deposits and perched groundwater. Addi­tion­ally, the impoundment’s underdrain system prevents liner floating by reclaiming seasonal high groundwater for treatment and reuse. According to Lafond, “CDM Smith’s intelligent design and well-orches­trated delivery approach addressed several project challenges, including a very aggressive schedule, difficult landscape, variable treatment and a strict budget.” CDM Smith provided startup services, operator training, and an operations and maintenance manual, and is providing the facility’s supervising operator.

CDM Smith's intelligent design and well-orches­trated delivery approach addressed several project challenges.
Tim Lafond, Executive Director of Envi­ron­men­tal Engineering, Johnson Controls, Inc.

Facing the Future
With long-term reliability in mind, the flexible design allows treatment capacity to be easily expanded to 227,000 litres per day if it is needed to meet demand. Beyond recycling, Johnson Controls’ operation supports community resources and represents a local economic commitment, employing 250 new and 1,000 indirect area jobs. “This integrated, robust solution sets a new industry standard for stormwater and wastewater treatment. It is a world-class project—one that reflects our commitment to environmental protection, the local economy and responsible battery production,” remarks Lafond. It is proof that recycling, whether batteries or water, can have a powerful and lasting effect.

NEWEA Journal
Learn more about this project in the official journal of the New England Water Environment Association.
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