Table 2 Environmental Regulations for Watercourse Discharge for Palm Oil Mill Effluent POME



BOD (mg/L) Suspended solids (mg/L) Oil and grease (mg/L) Ammoniacal nitrogen (mg/L) Total nitrogen (mg/L)

100 400 50 150 200 5-9

supplied to the MRE to aid the separation between oil and liquid sludge. The recovered oil is then reintroduced to the purification stage. The process will prevent excessive scum formation during the primary treatment and increase oil production. The MRE is then pumped into the cooling and mixing ponds for stabilization before primary treatment. No biological treatment occurs in these ponds. However, sedimentation of abrasive particles such as sand will ensure that all the pumping equipment is protected. The retention time of MRE in the cooling and mixing ponds is between 1 and 2 days.

The ponding system is comprised of a series of anaerobic, facultative, and algae (aerobic) ponds. These systems require less energy due to the absence of mechanical mixing, operation control, or monitoring. Mixing is very limited and achieved through the bubbling of gases; generally this is confined to anaerobic ponds and partly facultative ponds. On the other hand, the ponding system requires a vast area to accommodate a series of ponds in order to achieve the desired characteristics for discharge. For example, in the Serting Hilir Palm Oil Mill, the total length of the wastewater treatment system is about 2 km, with each pond about the size of a soccer field (Fig. 4). Only a clay lining of the ponds is needed, and they are constructed by excavating the earth. Hence, the ponding system is widely favored by the palm oil industry due to its marginal cost.

In constructing the ponds, the depth is crucial for determining the type of biological process. The length and width differ based on the availability of land. For anaerobic ponds, the optimum depth ranges from 5 to 7 m, while facultative anaerobic ponds are 11.5 m deep. The effective hydraulic retention time (HRT) of anaerobic and facultative anaerobic systems is 45 and 20 days, respectively. A shallower depth of approximately 0.5-1 m is required for aerobic ponds, with an HRT of 14 days. The POME is pumped at a very low rate of 0.2 to 0.35 kg BOD/m3 ■ day of organic loading. In between the different stages of the ponding system, no pumping is required as the treated POME will flow using gravity or a sideways tee-type subsurface draw-off system. Under these optimum conditions, the system is able to meet the requirement of DOE. The number of ponds will depend on the production capacity of each palm oil mill.

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