Industrial Wastewater Treatment

This covers the mechanisms and processes used to treat waters that have been contaminated in some way by anthropogenic industrial or commercial activities prior to its release into the environment or its re-use. Most industries produce some wet waste although recent trends in the developed world have been to minimise such production or recycle a such waste within the production process. However, many industries remain dependent on processes that produce wastewaters.

Brine Treatment

Brine treatment involves removing dissolved salt ions from the waste stream. Although similarities to seawater or brackish water desalination exist, industrial brine treatment may contain unique combinations of dissolved ions, such as hardness ions or other metals, necessitating specific processes and equipment. Brine treatment systems are typically optimized to either reduce the volume of the final discharge for more economic disposal (as disposal costs are often based on volume) or maximize the recovery of fresh water or salts. Brine treatment systems may also be optimized to reduce electricity consumption, chemical usage, or physical footprint. Brine treatment is commonly encountered when treating cooling tower blow down, produced water from steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), produced water from natural gas extraction such as coal seam gas, frac flowback water, acid mine or acid rock drainage, reverse osmosis reject, chloralkali wastewater, pulp and paper mill effluent, and waste streams from food and beverage processing. Brine treatment technologies may include: membrane filtration processes, such as reverse osmosis; ion exchange processes such as electro dialysis or weak acid cation exchange; or evaporation processes, such as brine concentrators and crystallizers employing mechanical vapour recompression and steam. Reverse osmosis may not be viable for brine treatment, due to the potential for fouling caused by hardness salts or organic contaminants, or damage to the reverse osmosis membranes from hydrocarbons.

Treatment of Industrial Wastewater

The various types of contamination of wastewater require a variety of strategies to remove the contamination.

Brine Management

Brine management examines the broader context of brine treatment and may include consideration of government policy and regulations, corporate sustainability, environmental impact, recycling, handling and transport, containment, centralized compared to on-site treatment, avoidance and reduction, technologies, and economics. Brine management shares some issues with leachate management and more general waste management

Solids Removal

Most solids can be removed using simple sedimentation techniques with the solids recovered as slurry or sludge. Very fine solids and solids with densities close to the density of water pose special problems. In such case filtration or ultra filtration may be required. Although, flocculation may be used, using alum salts or the addition of polyelectrolyte’s.

Removal of Biodegradable Organics

Biodegradable organic material of plant or animal origin is usually possible to treat using extended conventional sewage treatment processes such as activated sludge or trickling filter. Problems can arise if the wastewater is excessively diluted with washing water or is highly concentrated such as undiluted blood or milk. The presence of cleaning agents, disinfectants, pesticides, or antibiotics can have detrimental impacts on treatment processes.

Oils and Grease Removal

A typical API oil-water separator used in many industries Many oils can be recovered from open water surfaces by skimming devices. Considered a dependable and cheap way to remove oil, grease and other hydrocarbons from water, oil skimmers can sometimes achieve the desired level of water purity. At other times, skimming is also a cost efficient method to remove most of the oil before using membrane filters and chemical processes. Skimmers will prevent filters from blinding prematurely and keep chemical costs down because there is less oil to process. Because grease skimming involves higher viscosity hydrocarbons, skimmers must be equipped with heaters powerful enough to keep grease fluid for discharge. If floating grease forms into solid clumps or mats, a spray bar, aerator or mechanical apparatus can be used to facilitate removal. However, hydraulic oils and the majority of oils that have degraded to any extent will also have a soluble or emulsified component that will require further treatment to eliminate. Dissolving or emulsifying oil using surfactants or solvents usually exacerbates the problem rather than solving it, producing wastewater that is more difficult to treat. The wastewaters from large-scale industries such as oil refineries, petrochemical plants, chemical plants, and natural gas processing plants commonly contain gross amounts of oil and suspended solids. Those industries use a device known as an API oil water separator which is designed to separate the oil and suspended solids from their wastewater effluents. The name is derived from the fact that such separators are designed according to standards published by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The API separator is a gravity separation device designed by using Stokes Law to define the rise velocity of oil droplets based on their density and size. The design is based on the specific gravity difference between the oil and the wastewater because that difference is much smaller than the specific gravity difference between the suspended solids and water. The suspended solids settles to the bottom of the separator as a sediment layer, the oil rises to top of the separator and the cleansed wastewater is the middle layer between the oil layer and the solids. Typically, the oil layer is skimmed off and subsequently re-processed or disposed of, and the bottom sediment layer is removed by a chain and flight scraper (or similar device) and a sludge pump. The water layer is sent to further treatment consisting usually of a Electro flotation module for additional removal of any residual oil and then to some type of biological treatment unit for removal of undesirable dissolved chemical compounds. Parallel plate separators are similar to API separators but they include tilted parallel plate assemblies (also known as parallel packs). The parallel plates provide more surface for suspended oil droplets to coalesce into larger globules. Such separators still depend upon the specific gravity between the suspended oil and the water. However, the parallel plates enhance the degree of oil-water separation. The result is that a parallel plate separator requires significantly less space than a conventional API separator to achieve the same degree of separation.

Activated Sludge Process

Main article: Activated sludge A generalized, diagram of an activated sludge process. Activated sludge is a biochemical process for treating sewage and industrial wastewater that uses air (or oxygen) and microorganisms to biologically oxidize organic pollutants, producing a waste sludge (or floc) containing the oxidized material. In general, an activated sludge process includes:
• An aeration tank where air (or oxygen) is injected and thoroughly mixed into the wastewater.
• A settling tank (usually referred to as a “clarifier” or “settler”) to allow the waste sludge to settle. Part of the waste sludge is recycled to the aeration tank and the remaining waste sludge is removed for further treatment and ultimate disposal

Trickling Filter Process

A trickling filter consists of a bed of rocks, gravel, slag, peat moss, or plastic media over which wastewater flows downward and contacts a layer (or film) of microbial slime covering the bed media. Aerobic conditions are maintained by forced air flowing through the bed or by natural convection of air. The process involves adsorption of organic compounds in the wastewater by the microbial slime layer, diffusion of air into the slime layer to provide the oxygen required for the biochemical oxidation of the organic compounds. The end products include carbon dioxide gas, water and other products of the oxidation. As the slime layer thickens, it becomes difficult for the air to penetrate the layer and an inner anaerobic layer is formed.

The fundamental components of a complete trickling filter system are:

  • A bed of filter medium upon which a layer of microbial slime is promoted and developed.
  • An enclosure or a container which houses the bed of filter medium.
  • A system for distributing the flow of wastewater over the filter medium.
  • A system for removing and disposing of any sludge from the treated effluent.
  • The treatment of sewage or other wastewater with trickling filters is among the oldest and most well characterized.
  • treatment technologies.
  • A trickling filter is also often called a trickle filter, trickling biofilter, biofilter, biological filter or biological trickling filter.

Influent Water Clarification & Preparation

Treatment of other Organics

Synthetic organic materials including solvents, paints, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, coking products and so forth can be very difficult to treat. Treatment methods are often specific to the material being treated. Methods include Advanced Oxidation Processing, distillation, adsorption, vitrification, incineration, chemical immobilization or land fill disposal. Some materials such as some detergents may be capable of biological degradation and in such cases, a modified form of wastewater treatment can be used.

Treatment of Toxic Materials

Toxic materials including many organic materials, metals (such as zinc, silver, cadmium, thallium, etc.) acids, alkalis, non-metallic elements (such as arsenic or selenium) are generally resistant to biological processes unless very dilute. Metals can often be precipitated out by changing the pH or by treatment with other chemicals. Many, however, are resistant to treatment or mitigation and may require concentration followed by landfilling or recycling. Dissolved organics can beincinerated within the wastewater by Advanced Oxidation Process.

Treatment of Acids and Alkalis

Acids and alkalis can usually be neutralised under controlled conditions. Neutralisation frequently produces a precipitate that will require treatment as a solid residue that may also be toxic. In some cases, gasses may be evolved requiring treatment for the gas stream. Some other forms of treatment are usually required following neutralisation. Waste streams rich in hardness ions as from de-ionisation processes can readily lose the hardness ions in a buildup of precipitated calcium and magnesium salts. This precipitation process can cause severe furring of pipes and can, in extreme cases, cause the blockage of disposal pipes. A 1 metre diameter industrial marine discharge pipe serving a major chemical complex was blocked by such salts in the 1970s. Treatment is by concentration of de-ionisation waste waters and disposal to landfill or by careful pH management of the released wastewater.

Treatment of Organic Waste and Waste Water

Wastewater:

Wastewater, is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. Municipal wastewater is usually treated in a combined sewer, sanitary sewer, effluent sewer or septic tank. Sewage is the subset of wastewater that is contaminated with feces or urine, but is often used to mean any wastewater. Sewage includes domestic, municipal, or industrial liquid waste products disposed of, usually via a pipe or sewer (sanitary or combined), sometimes in a cesspool emptier. Sewerage is the physical infrastructure, including pipes, pumps, screens, channels etc. used to convey sewage from its origin to the point of eventual treatment or disposal. It is found in all types of sewage treatment, with the exception of septic systems, which treat sewage on-site.

Treatment:

There are numerous processes that can be used to clean up waste waters depending on the type and extent of contamination. Most wastewater is treated in industrial-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) which may include physical, chemical and biological treatment processes. However, the use of septic tanks and other On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF) is widespread in rural areas, The most important aerobic treatment system is the activated sludge process, based on the maintenance and recirculation of a complex biomass composed by micro-organisms able to absorb and adsorb the organic matter carried in the wastewater. Anaerobic processes are widely applied in the treatment of industrial wastewaters and biological sludge. Some wastewater may be highly treated and reused as reclaimed water. For some wastewaters ecological approaches using reed bed systems such as constructed wetlands may be appropriate. Modern systems include tertiary treatment by micro filtration or synthetic membranes. After membrane filtration, the treated wastewater is indistinguishable from waters of natural origin of drinking quality. Nitrates can be removed from wastewater by microbial denitrification, for which a small amount of methanol is typically added to provide the bacteria with a source of carbon. Ozone Wastewater Treatment is also growing in popularity, and requires the use of an ozone generator, which decontaminates the water as Ozone bubbles percolate through the tank. Disposal of wastewaters from an industrial plant is a difficult and costly problem. Most petroleum refineries, chemical and petrochemical plants have onsite facilities to treat their wastewaters so that the pollutant concentrations in the treated wastewater comply with the local and/or national regulations regarding disposal of wastewaters into community treatment plants or into rivers, lakes or oceans. Other Industrial processes that produce a lot of waste-waters such as paper and pulp production has created environmental concern leading to development of processes to recycle water use within plants before they have to be cleaned and disposed of.