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A pH neutralization system is a complete treatment skid usually found in laboratory buildings, research facilities and hospital buildings. If you are looking to specify the right pH neutralization system for your upcoming RFQ / RFP or if you are a facilities manager in charge of operating a pH neutralization system, then you have come to the right place to learn the following:

  • What a pH neutralization system does
  • How a pH neutralization system works
  • Why it is important to have a pH treatment system in your building

Before we begin talking about the details of how a pH neutralization system works, we first need to understand why a pH neutralization system is in a building in the first place.

Why industries need pH neutralization systems

According to Massachusetts code, a pH system is required to treat ‘special hazardous wastes’ -specifically wastes produced with pH as the main conventional pollutant. When a facility discharges their wastewater (effluent) to the city’s sewage system, it must first be treated to ensure that the contents of the waste stream do not cause any upset to the sewage system, the publicly owned treatment facility (POTW) or the final receiving body of water.

According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) there are over 2 million people in over 43 communities and over 5,500 industries that discharge their wastewater to the sewage system. There are other types of treatment systems that treat for other conventional pollutants (such as BOD, FOG, TSS, and pathogens) but a pH neutralization system specifically treats pH as a pollutant.

Why is pH considered a pollutant?

A pollutant is an undesirable substance that, in the case of water, impairs the quality of the water through disposing of industrial wastes. Both natural and unnatural substances can be considered pollution but for this article, the specific pollutant a pH neutralization system treats is pH.

pH is the expression of how acidic or how basic a solution is. It is measured on a scale of 0-14 with zero being very acidic and 14 being very basic. pH itself is not a bad thing, but when the waste stream going from a building out to the sewage system has a pH that could disrupt the POTW or the receiving body of water (the environment) than the waste stream needs to be treated. Untreated pH can cause corrosion of pipes, pumps and tanks.

Acids and Bases: everything you need to know

Acids are corrosive substances usually found in water solutions. They are reactive, conduct electricity (electrolytes), affect indicator colors, and have low pH values. Bases, or alkalines, are also corrosive substances and, like acids, are reactive solutions, affect indicator colors (in the opposite direction of acids), and are electrolytes.

The job of a pH neutralization system is to balance out the pH of the wastewater coming from a building through the addition of chemicals to make it safe to go out to the sewer. The system does this by adding in acid (such as 50% sulfuric acid) and base (50% sodium hydroxide) as needed until the outgoing pH is neutral (7 on the pH scale).

How a pH Neutralization System Works

Water flows into a pH neutralization system from piping installed in the building. The water is then collected in a tank where a pH sensor sends information about the pH level of the water in the tank to the analyzer (found on the control panel outside of the system). The analyzer collects the data and then tells the reagent pumps to dose the correct amount of acid and base into the water in the tank. This process is continuous and ongoing depending on the flow rate into the system.

If the pH reading is too low or too high inside of the tank, the system will go into alarm. Massachusetts state law requires a licensed wastewater operator to monitor pH neutralization systems for this reason.

A final note on pH neutralization systems

If you are looking to learn more, make sure to download our free e-book, The Top 10 Design Elements for a Code Compliant pH Neutralization System by clicking here. Or, if you need a system for your building contact us directly at 617 423 5639.