Thermaco Blog

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

How dirty waste makes for clean energy

Wastewater treatment plantFor the past few decades, scientists have experimented with using all kinds of waste, from animal to human, to produce methane gas via anaerobic digestion.

As arguably the largest supplier of organic waste, some large-scale farmers have been an instrumental part of the process, working hand-in-hand with researchers as the go-to source for methane-producing waste. Pioneering farms have been using the technology since the 1980s to harness energy to power their operations.

But, the process isn’t just for farmers anymore. Wastewater treatment facilities are getting in on the action. As they explore ways to extract more energy from waste and reduce their operating costs, innovative plants are finding ways to turn more types of waste, including solid food waste, into energy.

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8/25/15 8:00 AM

Why grease trap to fuel tank makes sense

Biodiesel storage tankFor the couple of decades, yellow grease, or used fryer oil, has been the go-to source for biodiesel production. Each gallon of yellow grease produces almost the same volume of biodiesel. 

Though the biodiesel yield is much lower for brown grease (50 percent), pioneering organizations are discovering uses for all types of grease trap waste. Sustainable energy innovators are finding that grease trap waste, if properly processed, can be used in a number of other ways. 

Learn about how new research and technology is creating ways to re-use fats, oil and grease, reducing the impact on the environment and saving money at the same time.

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8/20/15 8:05 AM

Nine dos and don'ts for hiring a grease trap pumping contractor

Pump truck cleaning out a grease trapBusiness managers might feel as if their lives revolve around quarters … quarters of the year, that is. From taxes to financial reports and marketing initiatives, managers have a laundry list of tasks to accomplish four times a year. Food service establishment operators have yet one more responsibility to tackle at least once a quarter — the pumping of the grease trap.

Granted, most restaurant and commercial kitchens contract out this dreaded deed, but the manager still must choose a trusted contractor. Working with someone that cuts corners or is frequently tardy could land FSE operators in hot water with their municipalities.

 Because the middle layer of water is what exits the tank, installing a properly sized interceptor — and regular maintenance to ensure the grease and water levels are at appropriate levels — are of utmost importance. Also important, hiriing the right contractor to clean out the grease interceptor periodically. Here are some tips.

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8/18/15 8:03 AM

How Asheboro is tackling waste-to-energy projects

Asheboro Wastewater Treatment PlantLike many wastewater treatment facilities, the Asheboro Wastewater Treatment Plant, is under constant pressure to do more with less.

Already, the facility has cut in half the amount of electricity it uses to run the blowers in its two aeration tanks.

But the facility is now looking at some additional innovations to save money by reducing energy costs, reducing waste disposal costs and process even more waste from customers.

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8/13/15 7:59 AM

How the Asheboro wastewater treatment plant achieves more with less

Aeration tank at Asheboro wastewater treatment plantThe Asheboro Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in 1962, during a different era. The Cuban Missile Crisis was right around the corner and America had just launched a space race to put the first man on the moon.

At the time, if you had mentioned “Class A biosolids” or “thermophilic bacteria” to a manager or operator at the plant, chances are they would have looked at you as though you had just come from the moon.

But the Asheboro, N.C. plant — even with some infrastructure that dates back more than 50 years — is on the leading edge of wastewater treatment. And it is the plant’s operators and staff that now talk about biosolids, bacteria and other cutting edge practices.

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8/11/15 8:30 AM

Health care facilities' unique pretreatment challenges - and how to solve them

Lawrence & Memorial HospitalHospitals and other health care facilities often operate extensive commercial kitchens. But unlike restaurants, hotels and other food service establishments, hospitals face additional cost-control, sanitation and operational challenges.

They have one or more commercial kitchens that may feed effluent into plumbing systems that run for hundreds or thousands of feet before exiting the building. 

Hospitals also operate on a 24/7 basis, requiring them to keep downtime to a minimum. They don’t close for holidays, and their kitchens must keep operating matter what.

These factors mean that hospitals face unique pretreatement challenges. Facility managers and engineers must carefully consider their pretreatment technology, or risk high-cost repairs and even breakdowns that could threaten the health of patients and workers.

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8/6/15 7:50 AM

Why size is no excuse for reducing grease pretreatment standards

Outdoor grease interceptorOne size fits all might be an appropriate term for a rain poncho. Or a baseball hat fitted with an elastic band. Perhaps even a baggy pair of sweatpants with a drawstring. But, the term has no place in the world of grease pretreatment. 

For a pretreatment plan to be effective, the effluent rate of a commercial kitchen, along with its size and type of food served, must be considered.

The century-old technology that is the traditional concrete interceptor is still the go-to choice for many food service establishments, despite its numerous problems. These are viable for some facilities — if they have the space. But it’s just not practical for many others. Many establishments, such as strip mall restaurants or restaurants located inside office buildings or in tightly packed urban areas, don’t have the available outdoor space.

But there are other choices.

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8/4/15 8:47 AM

Should you go "natural" with biological pre-treatment systems for grease?

Big Dipper Grease InterceptorOrganic and “natural” products and methods enjoy a glowing reputation in the marketplace. They’re able to command higher prices and for many people are a preferred choice when there is a choice.

They’ve made inroads beyond food, too, to products such as apparel (made with organically grown cotton), cosmetics and a variety of products constructed from “sustainable” recycled materials.

It’s not surprising, then, that restaurants and other commercial kitchen operators are interested in biological methods of pretreating grease-laden kitchen effluent. Beyond the attraction of a biologically based treatment system, these methods also hold out the possibility of minimizing pumping and other maintenance required by mechanical separation systems.

But while enzymatic and bacterial treatment solutions are growing in popularity, many questions and challenges remain.

Before considering enzymatic or bacterial solutions, there are a number of factors you need to consider.

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7/30/15 8:45 AM

How a river catching fire led to cleaner water

Discharging sewage into Cuyahoga RiverIn 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire.

The blaze caught the attention of the national media, and Time magazine described the Cuyahoga as a river that “oozes,” rather than flows. There were no fish or other animals in the water, and the concentration of oil and other toxins was so thick that they could actually burn.

The river had become, in effect, a giant grease trap.

And the ’69 fire was not event the first time the river had caught fire, and it by Cuyahoga standards, it was relatively mild. Dating back to the 1860s, the river had caught on fire at least 13 times. In 1952, the largest such fire caused more than $1 million of damage to boats, docks and a riverfront building. But the 1969 fire had a major impact on efforts to clean up the nation's waterways.

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7/28/15 8:43 AM