Biological Treatment

Regarding biological destruction, as mentioned previously, surfactants are known to cause a great deal of trouble due to foaming and toxicity [103] in municipal treatment plants. The behavior of these substances depends on their type [22], that is, anionic and nonionic detergents increase the amount of activated sludge, whereas cationic detergents reduce it, and also the various compounds decompose to a different degree. The activated sludge process is feasible for the treatment of soap and detergent industry wastes but, in general, not as satisfactory as trickling filters. The turbulence in the aeration tank induces frothing to occur, and also the presence of soaps and detergents reduces the absorption efficiency from air bubbles to liquid aeration by increasing the resistance of the liquid film.

On the other hand, detergent production wastewaters have been treated with appreciable success on fixed-film process units such as trickling filters [2]. Also, processes such as lagoons, oxidation or stabilization ponds, and aerated lagoons have all been used successfully in treating soap and detergent manufacturing wastewaters. Finally, Vath [102] demonstrated that both linear anionic and nonionic ethoxylated surfactants underwent degradation, as shown by a loss of surfactant properties, under anaerobic treatment.

Wang et al. [42,67,68] have developed innovative biological process and sequencing batch reactors (SBR) specifically for removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and surfactants. Related analytical procedures [57-64,71-91] available for process monitoring and control are available in the literature.

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