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Achieving Zero Discharge in Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plants

Achieving Zero Discharge in Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plants

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The issues that are important in the design, implementation and maintenance of a zero discharge waste water treatment plant are discussed here.
The issues that are important in the design, implementation and maintenance of a zero discharge waste water treatment plant are discussed here.

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Published by: Sellappan Eswaramoorthi on Sep 25, 2009
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04/08/2013

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Achieving Zero Discharge inIndustrial Waste Water Treatment Plantsecp consulting
infusing intelligence
TABLE OF CONTENTSPageNo.
Introduction ….........................................................................................................1PrimaryTreatment….............................................................................................. 3Equalization ............................................................................. 4Filtration ................................................................................... 4Mixers ...................................................................................... 5Aeration .................................................................................... 6Anaerobic/Aerobic Digester and Biodegradability of Organics 8SecondaryTreatment….............................................................................................. 9TertiaryTreatment.................................................................................................. 10Other Issues .................................................................................................. 12Uses of Pilot Plant .................................................................... 12Measures for Energy Efficiency/Energy Saving ....................... 12Operation, Maintenance and Interruptions …........................... 13
 
ACHIEVING ZERO DISCHARGE IN INDUSTRIAL WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANTS
S.Eswaramoorthi
1
ECP CONSULTING
Introduction
With an increasing demand on natural water resources, and unabated pollution posed byindustrial discharges into the environment, it has become necessary to implement zerodischarge systems in industrial waste water treatment plants. In a waste water treatmentfacility, zero discharge theoretically means no discharge of any kind of pollutants into theenvironment. But this is practically impossible and, the term zero discharge is loosely used todefine no liquid discharge into the environment. So, quite often, zero discharge and zeroliquid discharge are used in the same meaning. For all practical purposes, the concept of zerodischarge necessarily means the following: 1) recovery of reusable water/other materials fromwaste water; 2) minimization or, no discharge of polluting substances into the environmentaway from the waste water treatment facility.In India, the concept of zero discharge essentially emerged from the situation where industryis unable to meet the discharge norms set by the State and Central Pollution Control Boards.This led to pollution of the environment and subsequent litigation. Initially, the polluters were penalized to an extend necessary to clean the environment that they polluted. This conceptwas called
 Polluters Pay Policy
. The essential ingredient of this policy, however, led theindustry to initially pollute the environment - and later pay for environmental losses.Realizing that pollution is still uncontrolled and monitoring has become very much difficultwith so many industries discharging the waste water into the environment, finally a solutionwas conceived and the concept of zero discharge has emerged.This article addresses how zero discharge can be achieved in a waste water treatment facility.A discussion is also being made on the issues facing implementation of zero discharge in anywaste water treatment plant.As with conventional waste water treatment systems, zero discharge system also includes primary treatment, secondary treatment and tertiary treatment. However, the main objectivein a zero discharge treatment system is to see that i) the processes utilized for waste water treatment does not generate any additional pollutants; ii) production of waste is minimized bysuitable selection of unit processes and adjusting operating parameters; iii) as far as possible, pollutants in the wastewater are transfered to solid phase (sludge); iv) sludge is stored in asecured landfill; v) recovery of reusable materials, especially water, is achieved.To achieve the above mentioned objectives, definition and adoption of suitable primary,secondary and tertiary treatment processes based on the physico-chemical characteristics of the waste water are very much essential. It is also essential to develop a template for mass- balance in each unit process. Irrespective of unit processes adopted in each treatment step, the
1e-mail: info@ecpconsulting.inPage-2/13
 
main goal of primary treatment is to make the waste water suitable for water recovery duringsecondary treatment utilizing reverse osmosis system
2
. And, the main objective of tertiarytreatment is to treat the reject generated by the reverse osmosis system to recover water and,if possible, other useful materials
3
.Since the concept of zero discharge system is to ensure essentially no discharge of pollutantsinto the environment, recovery of water gains primary importance. It achieves two purposes:i) by reusing process water, utilization of natural waster resources is minimized; ii) reuse of recovered water enhances the capacity of the industry to efficiently utilize available water aswell as control its quality to the required level.Design of a zero discharge system requires many insights to be made at the outset: i) qualityof the waste water to be treated; ii) efficiency of the treatment system; iii) ability of thetreatment system to withstand variability in the quality of waste water being treated over short-time (
 shocks
) and long-time basis; iv) performance degradation of the machinery over a period of time; v) operation and maintenance issues such as backwash and cleaningoperations; vi) mass-balance under different perceived operating conditions.
Primary Treatment
The quality of waste water determines the overall design of any zero discharge treatmentsystem. Depending on waste water quality, waste water is subjected to suitable primarytreatment which is normally meant to equalize influent, and to remove/reduce i) suspendedsolids; ii) oil & grease; iii) biological (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD); iv) colour and odour; vi) toxic trace elements; vii) total dissolved solids (TDS). The food tomicroorganisms ratio (F/M), and biodegradability of organics in the waste water, are some of the important parameters that decide whether anaerobic digestion is necessary beforeallowing aerobic respiration
4
. During these operations, it may be necessary to adjust process pH, add necessary chemicals, and maintain dissolved oxygen concentration to achievedesired results. Though these processes are well-known in the industry, some aspects thatneed focus during implementation of a zero discharge system are considered here.
Equalization:
Controlling variability of influent characteristics is one of the important aspect in the designof a zero discharge system. As process efficiency down the line largely depends on the qualityof waste water received for treatment, designing an equalization system to absorb
 shocks
is of 
2Water recovery may also be achieved with the use of only an evaporator. The economies of various treatmentoptions are to be considered before a final decision. The chosen system of treatment, however, largelydepends on waste water quality.3Depending on the nature of waste water, material recovery may be achieved either after secondary treatmentor, during tertiary treatment. The processes and machinery may be a bit different. For example, nanofiltration may be used in secondary treatment for salt recovery from textile waste water. But, in practice, thishas not provided desired results.4Anaerobic digestion degrades organic substances that are normally not digestible by microorganismsgrowing under aerobic conditions. Normally, the degradation products of anaerobic digestion are easilydigestible by aerobic bacteria.Page-3/13

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