Thermaco Blog

How you can reduce emulsion, the invisible grease thief

Commercial Kitchen sink

Even if a commercial kitchen has an effective grease interceptor properly installed and maintained, fats, oils and grease (FOG) can still escape into the wastewater system.

While no grease removal system is 100 percent effective, a properly maintained, modern grease trap can still remove more than 99 percent of FOG found in kitchen effluent. One of the biggest obstacles to grease removal, though, is the invisible thief called emulsion.

Emulsion is a “fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble or miscible.” So what does that mean in plain English? And what can you do about it?

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12/1/15 8:07 AM

Five tactics for tackling the Thanksgiving grease-apocalypse

Thanksgiving turkey being deep friedIt happens every year during the holidays: Home cooks rev up their ovens and deep fryers and in go millions of turkeys in preparation for Thanksgiving day feasts.

The following day, and sometimes even the same day, plumbers and sewer district workers get called out to deal with blockages, back-ups and overflows. It’s messy and expensive. And it’s all completely unnecessary. 

But, as someone who works in wastewater treatment, you knew that. 

The question is, how do you eliminate, or least reduce the impact of, the annual Thanksgiving grease-apocalypse. The goal, obviously, is to convince as many people as possible about the dangers of dumping turkey grease down the drain.

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11/10/15 7:57 AM

What your dipstick might not tell you about effective pretreatment

Historic photo of Seattle municipal water testing labMany local sewer ordinances require that food service establishments make their grease interceptors available for periodic inspection to ensure they’re working correctly, keeping fats, oil and grease (FOG) out of the wastewater system.

And the tool of choice for many pretreatment coordinators and other professionals is the dipstick (or popularly, the Sludge Judge, a specific brand of dipstick). It’s a long, clear plastic tube that enables anyone to quickly measure how much grease a grease interceptor has accumulated.

While dunking a dipstick into a grease interceptor may allow you to quickly determine whether or not it needs to be emptied, it doesn’t really tell you how well the interceptor is keeping grease out of the wastewater system. 

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10/27/15 8:41 AM

How businesses and municipalities are battling cooking oil thieves

Pump truck emptying grease interceptorAcross the country and around the world criminals are targeting a new kind of “liquid gold” — used cooking oil.

The headlines say it all:

“Three charged in Harford in $1 million scheme to steal used cooking oil”

“Huh? Thieves stealing used cooking grease to turn into quick cash”

“Theft of grease for biofuel gets stickier”

In 2014, two brothers, both in their 70s, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to sell and transport used cooking oil stolen from restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The FBI wiretapped a federal informant to bring the pair to justice, and prosecutors said the two men stole grease worth more than $120,000 over the course of two years.

Businesses and local authorities, though, are fighting back.

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10/22/15 7:32 AM

The 8-step process engineers use to test grease interceptors

TZ-1826 testing video screenshotThe American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) developed standards in the 1990s to govern passive hydromechanical grease interceptors. The standard was developed in collaboration with the Plumbing & Drainage Institute, and is referenced by the Uniform Plumbing Code, the International Plumbing Code and the National Standard Plumbing Code.

The standard — ASME A112.14.3 — is the measure by which passive grease interceptors (including many of Thermaco’s products) are measured. If it meets the standard, then the interceptor can be used in many installations. If it doesn’t, then it’s a non-starter. 

So how, exactly, does one test a grease interceptor to see if it meets the ASME standard? 

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9/29/15 10:46 AM

Nine types of facilities that need oil-water separators

Car wash and lube shop signFood-service establishments aren’t the only businesses that have to keep oil and grease out of wastewater.

Federal, state and local clean water regulations require facilities that generate petroleum oil waste to use oil-water separators to ensure oil doesn’t escape into the sewer system. When oil does escape, not only can it cause big problems for treatment systems, it can also mean significant fines and other penalties for the facility that produced the waste oil.

While specific regulations vary somewhat from state to state, here are nine types of facilities commonly required to have oil-water separators.

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9/29/15 9:42 AM

Six tactics cities use to keep FOG out of wastewater systems

Worker repairs sewer linesFats, oils and grease (FOG) in wastewater are one of the biggest challenges facing wastewater systems around the world. Grease, sometimes along with solids, can build up into a solid mass that can narrow or even block wastewater pipes. When that happens, sewers overflow, pipes break, and local authorities are forced to clean up the mess and make repairs.

In the United States alone, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as many as 47 percent of all wastewater system blockages are caused by the buildup of grease. In New York City alone, those annual repairs cost nearly $5 million. Other large cities also rack up multi-million dollar bills for repairs and emergency service.

Cities are adopting a number of tactics to keep grease out of their wastewater systems.

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9/22/15 9:31 AM

11 best management practices to control grease in your commercial kitchen

Chef in commercial kitchen with staffThough having a grease interceptor is required in virtually all commercial kitchens, there’s much more to controlling fats, oils and grease (FOG).

Why should you care? It’s not just about staying in compliance with government regulations and avoiding fines or even potential shutdowns. Best management practices to control FOGs in your kitchen will also save you money on maintenance and reduce the risk of costly, emergency plumbing repairs inside your building.

Here are eleven best management practices to control grease, save money and protect your business’ reputation.

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9/15/15 9:42 AM

Look what happened when we combined 19,200 gallons of water and 1,920 pounds of lard

Trapzilla TZ-1826 Grease InterceptorA commercial kitchen wouldn’t repeatedly send 200 gallons of burning water and 20 pounds of hot lard through its grease interceptor even on the busiest night. And a blizzard would make it even less likely. 

But this past February, that’s what we subjected our newest grease interceptor, the Trapzilla TZ-1826, to — during a storm.

The TZ-1826 is the third-generation Trapzilla, with a tank design optimized to retain more grease in as small a footprint as possible. We tested the TZ-1826 to the ASME standard to determine its efficiency and capacity.

We didn’t expect what happened next.

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9/8/15 8:34 AM

A better grease interceptor: More grease in less space

TZ-1826 Grease InterceptorTo understand the new TZ-1826 Trapzilla Grease Interceptor, consider two numbers: 1,826 and 11,000. 

The first is how many pounds of grease the TZ-1826 can hold. The second is how much a 1,000-gallon concrete trap weighs — a concrete trap that would hold a similar amount of grease, but would require heavy machinery to install and take up three times as much space as the TZ-1826.

How is that possible? That’s what happens when you apply a quarter century of grease interceptor innovation and oil-water separation expertise to a problem that a growing number of commercial food service establishments face: Lots of grease, but not much space for a high-capacity grease trap.

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9/1/15 7:56 AM