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NEWS Last modified on June 8, 2016

Rhode Island gateway celebrates de-icing treatment milestone

More than two years’ worth of aircraft de-icing chemicals collected at Rhode Island's TF Green Airport have been treated at its new stormwater run-off management and de-icer treatment system.

Designed by Gresham, Smith and Partners (GS&P), the system is one of only four in the world to have a anaerobic biological treatment facility.

“De-icing fluid is critical to safe aircraft operation in wintry weather, but as an environmentally conscious organisation, we also want to keep it out of our streams, rivers and bays,” says Rhode Island Airport Corporation’s interim president and CEO Peter Frazier. 

“PVD’s state-of-the-art de-icer management system allows aircraft to remain at the gate for de-icing in wintertime while protecting our nearby environment and streams.”

After a de-icing event, nearly 15,000 feet of 24-inch and 12-inch pipelines carry captured stormwater runoff from the terminal and cargo aprons via two pump stations to two 2.9-million gallon storage tanks.

Inside an 11,000 square foot treatment building, two anaerobic fluidized bed reactor treatment trains use microorganisms to convert propylene glycol – the primary ingredient in deicing fluid – into methane and carbon dioxide.

The system can process up to 7,700 pounds of chemical oxygen demand per day.

The methane byproduct provides fuel to heat the incoming stormwater and the treatment building, reducing natural gas consumption by more than 95%.

Additional sustainable features include low impact development methods like vegetated swales, routing pipes around nearby wetlands, and energy efficient equipment and lighting.
“Our proprietary GlyCAST de-icer management model used over 50 years of historic weather data, current and future flight schedules, and projected growth at TF Green to optimise the capacity and design of this system,” notes John Lengel, executive vice president and GS&P’s principal-in-charge. 

“The sustainable design reduces the environmental impact and operating costs, and since aircraft can continue de-icing at the gates, passengers spend less time waiting onboard before take-off. 

"It’s a win-win setup for the airport, airlines, passengers and the environment.”

The stormwater collection system began diverting in 2014, and the treatment facility began full-time operations in 2015.

The system recently completed treating all captured de-icer runoff from the previous seasons including the record snowfalls that occurred in February 2015.

It will be shut down in the coming weeks for regular maintenance and preparation for the 2016-17 dei-cing season. 

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