By Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor
Aeration. Air stripping. Do you think these words are synonymous? Many people do. Until recently, so did I. That was before I started calling a few experts about the topic. Soon, it was made perfectly clear to me that, within the specific industry itself, there’s a very unique distinction between the processes. And to those people, I must say — I will never make that mistake again.
For further confirmation, I dust off the old WQA Glossary of Terms (circa 1997; By the by, if anyone at WQA’s headquarters is reading this, I have a small request — the latest edition of the book would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.) and check the terms to see just how far apart they are in reality. In alphabetical order, I look under aeration first. Definition: ”The process whereby water is brought into intimate contact with air by spraying or cascading, or air is brought into intimate contact with water by an air aspirator or by bubbling compressed air through the body of water.” Let’s see if air stripping can beat that. Definition: ”A technique of aeration for the removal of dissolved gases and volatile substances, often pesticides or hydrocarbon products in water supplies.” Hmmm, not as inriguing but, more importantly, we find that air stripping falls under the umbrella of aeration and not vice versa.
So, for the benefit of the legions of aer/airated deficient folks, we bring a review of the more visible websites to provide a more thorough examination of the concepts as well as a little chalkboard lesson for all of us. Because this is such a tight-knit and relatively conspicuous segment of the water treatment market, a few websites featured here are represented by individual commercial companies. This, in no way, should signify an endorsement of these businesses or their products. And, no, the legal department didn’t force me to write that last sentence.
Tabbed as “the only nationwide radon reduction company in the United States,” US Radon Systems Inc.’s home page is pretty straightforward but may confuse those looking for aeration/air stripping information. Have no fear! Under the main headings listed to the left of the page is one entitled AIRaider Systems. After clicking here, you are dispatched to another page where a BGC Technologies Inc. greeting awaits. This company, as you can guess, is a subsidiary of US Radon Systems. The page in essence touts well water treatment aeration equipment.
Two major headings are listed—Aeration System Selection and How the AIRaider Works. The second button is self-explanatory. Knowing this is a commercial site, one can presume it will be heavily weighted toward their systems. Naturally. Still, we can tell you what types of well water contaminants the site says can be removed with these systems. Among them are radon, benzene, carbon dioxide, MTBE, THMs and hydrogen sulfide. At this point, I’m hoping that the other sites reviewed here will provide a more educational slant.
One of the blandest home pages ever, this site is to no frills what Tammy Faye is to makeup. I mean, right on… everywhere. The company’s name is Aeromix, the self-proclaimed “specialists in aeration and mixing equipment for water and wastewater treatment.” Along with product shots (with hyper-links), there are three basic buttons available — Company Background, Product Information and News Releases. In addition, a free aeration technical kit is offered. You can’t beat free. More on that later.
The first button (background) discusses aerators and mixers and not much else. It’s a glorified About Us page. Product Information goes through a bunch of products with images and corresponding hyperlinks. News Releases is just an extension of the company’s background. Some of its installations in 68 countries are profiled here. Back to the free kit. Once you click on the button, the invitation asks you to fill out some information but no mention is made about what the kit includes so this may be a technique used to track site activity. I mean, I’m sure there’s a kit involved but it would be nice to know a little more about it. Oh well.
Not to be confused with the last website, this one is run by Lake Fountains & Aeration Inc. A sidenote here—the logo reminds me of shopping for your first apartment. Even the promotions on the home page play up that theme—fall/winter specials, save lots of $$, “best values.” What is this? Aeration or the best deal on a studio with a view? Yet, believe it or not, the company manufactures floating fountains for lakes and ponds. Now it all makes sense.
If you are interested in purchasing a floating fountain for your lake or pond (I live in a city where the closest thing to a pond or lake is an arroyo — a dry wash for you non-natives), then go back to the home page. For the rest of us, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Technical info.” A list of four main topics pops up. First one is Aeration Systems. Sweet! Without initially becoming too self-serving, this site actually promotes the systems in general by saying, “Aeration systems offer many advantages including much lower installation, energy and maintenance costs, more efficient oxygenation and circulation, and simplicity of design.” Of course, this is soon followed by product specifications, not to mention spiffy photos.
Straight from England comes this rather interesting site. After scanning the many buttons too numerous to list here, I come upon “Ammonia strippers” and “Aeration lagoons” under Leachate Treatment. As you can probably guess, these types of treatments have more to do with the wastewater market than POU/POE, but I think that’s indicative of the technologies being discussed as well as the links page, which lists the Institute of Waste Management, Solid Waste Association of North America and International Solid Waste Organization (or, if your prefer, “Organisation”).
This isn’t to say that this is a wasteful (excuse the pun) site. It contains more educational benefits than the others, perhaps combined. The links page is quite useful. Plus, under the Ammonia strippers and Aeration lagoons, useful information in general (and not toward a specific product or company) is given to better acquaint the visitor with each application.
I hope for the majority of you that this exercise was not so much educational but an informal invitation to interest you in finding out more about aeration and air stripping and, of course, their purposes. I am sure there are many other sites that could provide more insight and the hopes are that you will surf the Net in search of such fare. The technologies do apply to water treatment so the benefits, though maybe not immediate, could affect your business down the road. If nothing else, should you run into someone in the business, you will avoid confusing the terms and likely impress those who’s living depends on knowing the difference.