This book was developed in response to the growing problem of food and agricultural wastewater management faced in both developing and developed countries as the world population continues to increase and, at the same time, industrialized food production has seen its most stunning growth in many nations—from Argentina, to Brazil, to China. Currently, it is recognized that the increasing amount of the wastewater from these industrial scale processing plants can no longer be totally resolved by discharging or applying to agriculture fields. Substantial amounts of food and agriculture wastewater have to be treated extensively to satisfy regulatory mandates and environmental laws.

Wastewater generated from agricultural and food operations has distinctive characteristics that set it apart from common municipal wastewater managed by public or private wastewater treatment plants throughout the world: It is biodegradable and nontoxic, but it has high concentrations of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids (SS). The constituents of food and agriculture wastewater are often complex to predict due to the differences in BOD and pH in effluents from vegetable, fruit, and meat products and due to the seasonal nature of food processing and postharvesting. Increasingly, food and agricultural industries find themselves in need of coping with a growing and costly problem of wastewater treatment and disposal.

On the other hand, environmental management firms that are relegated to the task of managing food and agriculture wastewater realize that they need to do some retooling with respect to dealing with the problem at hand, because wastewater varies significantly with localities. Also, there is certain realization in the food and agricultural processing industries that wastewater from food and agriculture often contains some valuable commodities that are recoverable and can be harvested to offset the cost of overall wastewater management.

This book incorporates the most recent advances in agricultural and food wastewater treatment and valuable material recovery in the existing wastewater treatment technologies. This comprehensive volume will help food technologists and environmental and agricultural engineers/scientists in industries and governmental entities in their quest to improve food and agricultural wastewater management. This book can also be used as an upper-level undergraduate or first-year graduate textbook for food science, agricultural engineering, biological engineering, bioresource engineering, and environmental science or environmental engineering disciplines. Chemical engineering students will also find this book valuable in preparing their careers in food and other allied industries.

Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 cover the fundamental principles of conventional biological and physicochemical wastewater treatment. Chapter 5 introduces the reader to advanced wastewater treatment technologies relevant to agricultural and food wastewater issues. Chapter 6 describes several waste-water management practices using natural systems that include land applications. Even as land applications of agricultural and food wastewater have been restricted in many parts of the world, the practice still has an important role in overall agricultural and food wastewater management.

Sludge of wastewater treatment is often a problem of significant levels, and the techniques of effectively treating and stabilizing the sludge from wastewater treatment is documented in Chapter 7. Chapter 8 explains current technologies and methods in recovering valuable substances and energy from agricultural and food wastewater that can offset the overall cost of wastewater management. Chapter 9 looks into the overall economic picture of the combined treatment-and-recovery approach of agricultural and food wastewater treatment and provides several simple matrices of economical evaluations of overall agricultural and food wastewater management.


The author would like to thank his family for their warm support, patience, and understanding in this yearlong endeavor. The Department of Food Science and the graduate faculty of Bioresource Engineering at Rutgers University have provided the author with the necessary intellectual scaffolding that ultimately leads to this book. However, any error or omission found in the book is the sole responsibility of the author.

Food and Agricultural Waste Water Utilization and Treatment

Sean X. Liu

Copyright © 2007 by Blackwell Publishing

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