The two-stage biological system generally provides a better quality of effluent than the single-stage biological system for the treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater. It has been reported that a single-stage biological system such as activated sludge process and trickling filter alone is not capable of treating the wastewater to the effluent limit proposed for its safe discharge to inland surface water . However, the combined treatment using a twostage aerobic treatment system is efficient in treating wastewater to a level complying with national regulatory standards. A performance study of a two-stage biological system for the treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater generated from Dorsey Laboratories Plant (drug mixing and formulation type plant) at Lincoln, Nebraska, was carried out and the following conclusions drawn:
• Shock organic and hydraulic loading created serious operational problems in the system. Bulking sludge and the inability to return solids from the clarifier to the aeration unit further complicated plant operation.
• Microscopic observations of the sludge flock showed the presence of filamentous organisms, Sphaerotilus natans, in high concentrations. The presence of these organisms was expected to be due to deficiency of the nitrogen in the wastewater.
To overcome the problem of sludge bulking, nitrogen was supplemented in the wastewater as ammonium sulfate, but operational problems continued even after nitrogen was added. Hence, to avoid shock loading on the treatment, the effluent treatment plant (ETP) was expanded. The expanded treatment system (Fig. 3) consists of a communicator, basket screen, equalization basin, biological tower, activated sludge process, disinfection, and filtration. The study indicated that the equalization basin and biological tower effectively controlled shock loading on the activated sludge process. Overall, BOD and COD removal of 96 and 88%, respectively, may be achieved by employing a two-stage biological system . It has also been found that a twostage biological system generally provides a high degree of treatment. However, bulking sludge causes severe operational problems in the extended aeration system and sand filter.
A two-stage biological treatment system consisting of anaerobic digestion followed by an activated sludge process was developed for the treatment of liquid waste arising from a liver and beef extract production plant. Being rich in proteins and fats, the waste had the following characteristics: pH, 5.8; COD, 21,200 mg/L; BOD, 14,200 mg/L; and TS, 20,000 mg/L. The treatability study of the waste in anaerobic digestion revealed that at an optimum organic loading rate of 0.7 kg COD/m3 day and an HRT of 30 days, a COD and BOD removal efficiency of 89 and 91% can be achieved . The effluent from anaerobic digestion still contains a COD of 2300 mg/L and BOD of 1200 mg/L. The effluent from anaerobic digestion was settled in a primary settling tank. At an optimum retention time of 60 minutes in the settling tank, the percentage COD and BOD removal increased to 94 and 95%, respectively. The effluent from the settling tank was then subjected to the activated sludge process. At an optimum HRT of 4 days, the COD and BOD removal increased to 96 and 97%, respectively. The effluent from the activated sludge process was settled for 1 hour in a secondary settling tank, which gave an increase in COD and BOD removal to 98 and 99%, respectively. The study therefore revealed that the combination of anaerobic-aerobic treatment resulted in an overall COD and BOD reduction of 98 and 99%, respectively. The final effluent had a COD of 290 mg/L and BOD of 50 mg/L, meeting the effluent standard for land irrigation.
The performance of two-stage biological systems was examined for the treatment of wastewater from a pharmaceutical and chemical company in North Cairo. A combined treatment using an extended aeration system (20 hour aeration) or a fixed film reactor (trickling filter) followed by an activated sludge process (11 hour detention time) was found efficient in treating the wastewater to a level complying with national regulatory standards. From a construction cost point of view, the extended aeration system followed by activated sludge process would be more economical than the fixed film reactor followed by activated sludge process. The flow diagrams of the two recommended alternative treatment processes for the treatment of this plant wastewater are depicted in Figure 4 and Figure 5, respectively .
Anaerobic treatment of high-strength wastewater containing high sulfate poses several unique problems. The conversion of sulfate to sulfide inhibits methanogenesis in anaerobic treatment processes and thus reduces the overall performance efficiency of the system. Treatment of high sulfate pharmaceutical wastewater via an anaerobic baffled reactor coupled
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