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AEP turns to GE for wastewater bioreactor system to comply with new selenium discharge limit

GE (NYSE: GE) today announced that American Electric Power (AEP) is installing GE’s ABMET® wastewater bioreactor system at the utility’s 1300MW Mountaineer coal-fueled power plant in New Haven, W.Va, to comply with a new discharge limit for selenium. GE’s proprietary biological treatment system uses a special molasses-based product as a nutrient for microbes that reduce selenium, a constituent found in many coal-fired power plant water emissions. Construction of AEP’s treatment facility began in July 2010. The system is scheduled to become operational by the end of 2011.

GE’s ABMet technology utilizes special strains of common, non-pathogenic microbes that facilitate the conversion of soluble selenium into elemental selenium, which is removed from the system during periodic backwashing. The microbes, which are fed the molasses-based nutrient, are seeded in a bed of activated carbon that acts as a growth medium for the microbes to create a biofilm. Selenium-laden wastewater passes through this bioreactor and a reduction reaction occurs. Other than the addition of the nutrient, the system will be self-sustaining once it is established.Selenium is an element found in coal that is not consumed in the combustion process and typically can be found in several of a plant’s post-combustion waste streams.

AEP is the third U.S. utility to deploy GE’s pioneering wastewater treatment process. The installation is GE’s fifth in the coal-fired power industry and 10th overall. While GE’s process also is capable of removing other constituents such as nitrate and a variety of metals, AEP’s focus at Mountaineer is selenium reduction.

The team of GE, Indianapolis-based Bowen Engineering, HDR Engineering of Omaha, Neb., and River Consulting of Columbus, Ohio, is supporting AEP’s project team under a single agreement.

(Press release)

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