Providing safe, clean drinking water to military personnel at Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, NJ ranks among the top priorities for the 87th Aerospace Medicine Squadron (AMDS) Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight. The 32-member team of engineers and technicians is responsible for managing occupational and environmental health hazards and promoting force health protection for a base population of 45,000 people. This includes ensuring that water quality meets or exceeds federal standards at all times and taking swift action in the event of a potential contamination event. To safeguard the drinking water and provide a backup supply in the event of a disruption to the existing treatment system, the Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight recently installed a new water treatment plant.
Designed to treat the well water for iron, manganese, and other potential contaminants, and to neutralize the pH, the new water plant sets dual processing lines with identical equipment side by side in a new building. The treatment process begins with a worker emptying 50-lb bags of powdered lime into a bag dump station. These AFC Dump-Clean bag break stations from Automated Flexible Conveyor, Clifton, NJ, automatically draw the material into the system for loading into the process while capturing any fine particles and preventing nuisance dust from escaping into the plant environment. A built-in, automated filtration system collects and recovers any dust for reuse.
The Dump-Clean bag stations are set atop Spiralfeeder flexible screw conveyors, and via a sealed connection, the lime is discharged into the conveyor hoppers.
These conveyors set a rotating screw auger within an enclosed outer tube to automatically transfer powders, granules, blends, flakes, and/or other dry, bulk materials from one point in a process to another within a dust-tight system. At the press of a button, the screw rotates, pulls material from the bottom of the hopper, and transfers it up to the discharge. The screw conveyors transfer the lime up an incline and discharge it into hoppers that feed dual mixers, which mix the lime with well water to create a slurry. This slurry is discharged into tanks and then pumped downstream.
The automated AFC dust control and conveying equipment were specified for their proven track record spanning decades of non-stop operation in another water treatment plant on the base, according to Beth Bolt, principal project engineer for environmental engineering firm Weston Solutions, West Chester, PA. Contracted to design and build the plant by Prime Contractor Cape Environmental Management Inc., Bayville, NJ, Weston provides a range of professional services to industrial, commercial, government, and other organizations including water engineering, site remediation, and infrastructure improvements. Its portfolio comprises multiple water treatment plants on military bases including the two in Lakehurst and its track record of service to the Department of Defense (DOD) spans more than 50 years. “The original treatment system has performed so well with the AFC lime transfer system for so long that the Base wanted to replicate the same system for the new backup treatment plant,” said Bolt. “Selecting AFC for this project was an easy decision.”
AFC is owned and operated by David Nadel, design engineer, and his business partner, Jeff Malenchak, manufacturing engineer. The two purchased the company from its founder in 2017 after rising to management positions with the company over many years of service. In addition to offering the signature Spiralfeeder flexible screw conveyors and bag dump stations, AFC designs and manufactures bulk bag unloaders, integrated conveying and weighing systems, and other equipment for automating the powder and bulk handling processes. Its NJ facility includes a test lab spanning nearly 1,000 sq ft, stocked with full-size process equipment to simulate actual operating conditions such as a bag break station and a mobile version of its Spiralfeeder.
"The Spiralfeeder conveyor and Dump-Clean are beautiful, well-made systems,” said Jim Heupel, superintendent for Eastern Construction and Electric Inc., Wrightstown, NJ. “You just push a button and dump, push a button and transfer the lime--it does exactly what it's supposed to do.”
The construction company specializes in serving government agencies at all levels and has provided a range of building services to the base via Military Construction (MILCON) contracts since its founding in 1996. Heupel managed the construction of the new water treatment plant in partnership with Weston. “It was a dream working with Dave (of AFC),” said Heupel. “He was very knowledgeable about the electrical and mechanical issues involved, there were no hidden surprises, and as an installer, I appreciated that everything they built was perfectly on spec and arrived prewired.”
With Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA among its customers, AFC understands how to navigate the maze of government contracts and requirements to ensure approvals are secured and deadlines met. Transmittals for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), for example, required CAD shop drawings of all equipment, complete operations and maintenance manuals, detailed product specifications, and other information such as the personal backgrounds of any personnel involved in the project. “Everything we needed for the submittal was provided correctly on the first try,” said Heupel. “Their paperwork was complete and right on time, and that made the entire process easy.”
To ensure the operations staff find running the lime transfer system just as easy, Nadel provided an on-site training session. The hands-on demonstration covered proper machinery startup, safe bag handling, preventative maintenance, monitoring for wear, and how to disassemble and clean the equipment. With few component parts, the conveying system can be cleaned from infeed hopper and tube enclosure to discharge in a matter of minutes. “AFC did a phenomenal job from start to finish,” said Heupel, on his first project working with AFC. “Everything was built to very high quality standards and I look forward to working with them again soon.”
Water sampling and testing are in progress to verify the quality from the new treatment system meets federal and state potable water quality standards.