PDX Deicing Enhancements Move Closer to Completion

by wrayr 2/3/2011 12:04 PM

A new treatment facility on the PDX airfield will increase the amount of deicing material that can be treated after cold, wintry weather.

A six-year project to enhance Portland International Airport’s aircraft deicing system marched along this winter, with major construction wrapping up on the PDX airfield. In December, workers finished the roof of a new treatment facility, located west of the south runway near Northeast 33rd Avenue. The project team will now focus on completing the interior of the building and beginning the extensive testing phase.

The new on-site treatment facility will work in conjunction with other system enhancements as well as the existing system to manage deicing materials during the winter season. Even better, it will greatly increase the amount of material that can be treated and gives PDX more options for managing deicing runoff after cold weather or heavy storms. Currently, concentrated deicing fluid is treated at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. The on-site facility will use an anaerobic fluidized bed reactor for treatment: microorganisms essentially “eat” glycol, the biodegradable active ingredient in deicing fluids, while producing waste in the form of methane that in turn heats the reactors in which the material is broken down.

In addition to the treatment system, the system has been expanded to collect runoff from the western portion of the airfield, including the south runway. Storage capacity has been doubled, and a Columbia River outfall was carefully permitted and constructed in 2009. The various enhancements will be integrated into the existing system and tested over the next year and a half, in advance of the April 2012 deadline with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.