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Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2015, 7 (9):349-354
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ISSN 0975-5071
USA CODEN: DPLEB4

Comparison of organic matter removal efficiency between suspended and


combined growth systems in aerobic biological treatment process
S. Pavithra1*, S. Mohanasundaram2 and G. Narendra Kumar3
1

Dept. of Biotechnology, Sathyabama University, Chennai, India


2
Enviro Science & Engineering Pvt Ltd, Chennai, India
3
Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Bio and Chemical Engineering, Sathyabama University, Chennai, India
___________________________________________________________________________________________
ABSTRACT
Hybrid Bioreactor is a combined growth aerobic biological treatment system which incorporates the synergetic
advantage of the suspended and attached growth system in a single reactor. A Pilot scale study was conducted to
ascertain the organic matter removal efficiency of the suspended and combined growth system. Conventional
Activated Sludge Process (ASP) with extended aeration principle and Hybrid Bio Reactor (HBR) was established to
compare the process efficiency and to ascertain the supremacy of the Hybrid system. Effluent from a sea food
processing industry was utilized for this study since it contained substantial organic matter of biodegradable nature.
Composite samples of raw effluent and treated were collected from the ASP and HBR system and analyzed for
parameters like pH, TDS, BOD and COD. The treated water quality from both the systems was pre-fixed to meet the
standards specified by regulatory authorities for the disposal of treated water into inland surface water. The study
revealed that the average COD removal efficiency of the combined growth system (Hybrid Bio Reactor) system was
50% higher than the Suspended growth system (conventional Activated Sludge process) for the same organic
loading rate per unit volume of reactor.
Keywords: Hybrid Bio reactor; sea food processing industry effluent; enhanced removal efficiency; organic matter
removal.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________
INTRODUCTION
Aerobic Biological treatment system is the key unit process in any waste water treatment facility, designed to
remove the soluble organic matter present in the effluent (Abdel Kader and Amr, 2012). The aerobic biological
treatment process is primarily categorized as attached growth system and suspended growth system, based on which
the system is engineered to achieve the designed removal efficiency. Each system has specific advantages leading to
better removal efficiencies. The attached growth aerobic/facultative biological systems include Trickling Filters
(Bruce Logan, 1993), Rotating Biological Contactor (Filret Kargi and Ali Dicer, 1999, Ching - San huang, 1982,
Dale Meredith, 1994, Yeun,1981), etc., where the soluble organic matter is predominantly removed by attached
growth bacterial medium. The conventional Suspended growth aerobic biological systems include Activated Sludge
Process, Oxidation Ditch, etc., where the soluble organic matter is predominantly removed by suspended growth
bacterial population (Bruce Rittmann and Perry Mccarty, 1979). While there are many process upgradation in
aerobic biological treatment systems (like the Sequential Batch Reactor (Andrew et al., 1997), Membrane BioReactor, Moving Bed Bio Reactor (Andreas Andreadakis, 1987), etc.), Activated Sludge process working on
extended aeration principle is still the most commonly employed and successfully operated system.

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Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2015, 7 (9):349-354
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Hybrid Bioreactor
In process microbiology, a combination of suspended and attached growth process existing as single biological
treatment system is reported to have higher performance efficiency when compared with the individual treatment
models. Processes like moving bed bio reactor (MBBR) or Floating bed bio reactor (FBBR) are examples of
combined growth system available today (David and Hendricks, 1980). However, in such system, the bacterial
population is in dispersed state which is subjected to continuous shearing due to fluidization (Boshou Pan and
Hartmana, 1992). This may limit the overall performance of the process and its process efficiency.
Hybrid Bio-reactor (HBR) is a fully aerobic, combined growth system where suspended and attached growth aerobic
bacterial biological treatment exists in a single reactor. The attached growth bio matrix is submerged inside the
extended aeration system, which is innovatively engineered to reduce the shear forces and to provide conditions
favorable for optimum performance. It also has an advantage not to remove the substrate accumulated like trickling
filter (Bruce Jank and Ronald Drynan, 1973. Denny and Perker, 1997)
This study aims at ascertaining the feasibility of treating effluents with higher organic load and establishes the HBR
concept using a Pilot Plant by mobilizing the specific advantages of the suspended growth and attached growth
aerobic biological process into a single reactor and evaluating the performance efficiency of the Hybrid Bio reactor
over the conventional Activated Sludge process.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Wastewater characteristics
Waste water from a sea food processing industry was utilized for the pilot plant study. The raw waste water was
analyzed and found to contain COD in the range from 1265 to 1475 mg/l and BOD in the range from 628 to750
mg/l. The pilot plant is designed to operate based on these input values and the treated effluent quality was preset to
meet the inland surface water disposal standards.
Experimental apparatus
The Pilot plant setup consists of the following components:
1. Raw effluent collection tank 2000 l capacity HPDE tank to store the effluent from the process.
2. Raw effluent transfer pump 50 - 500 l/hour capacity pump to transfer the effluent at a constant flow rate into
the aeration tank.
3. Aeration tank 3375 l capacity (1.5m x 1.5m x 1.5m Liquid Depth +0.5m Free Board) MS/FRP tank for aerating
the effluent for BOD/COD removal.
4. Parallel Plate Separator - MS/FRP lined system for separation of the bio solids form the treated effluent
overflowing from the aeration tank.
5. Bio-matrix 500 l of Poly Propylene bio-media enclosed in a module for bio film development.
6. Glass tube Rotameter 90 900 l/hour capacity Rotameter for monitoring the effluent feed flow to the aeration
tank.
7. Air blower 5m3/hour of air flow rate at 2000mm Water column to provide the required Dissolved Oxygen
(DO) and mixing in the aeration tank.
8. Diffuser Disc type Fine bubble diffuser of 5 to 7m3/hour capacity air flow rate to disperse the air into the
aeration tank (El-jafry et al., 2013)
Suspended Growth system - Start-up and operation structure
Plant start up
About 50% volume of the aeration tank was filled with fresh water and the balance 50% volume was filled with raw
effluent. Activated sludge from the existing at Effluent Treatment plant of the sea food processing industry was
utilised for seeding the aeration tank. Air from the existing blower was introduced into the tank by means of the
diffuser fixed in the tank and the tank contents were aerated continuously. About 800 liters of raw effluent was
added daily at a constant flow rate of 100 L/hour for a period of 15 days. Bio-Sludge volume and its settlability were
checked every day. The desired sludge volume was 200ml/l with clear supernatant quality. The system took about
15 days for producing uniform treated water quality and reaching the steady state condition. An average of about
3100 mg/l MLSS was maintained in the aeration tank by recycling the bio-sludge settled in the parallel plate
separator (Warren Swanson and Rymond Cloehr, 1997).

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Plant operation
After the stabilization of aeration process, the pilot plant was operated at feed flow rates of 800L/day, 1200 L/day
and 2400L/day to ascertain the optimum flow at which the suspended growth system can produce desired treated
water quality. The system was then operated continuously at the optimal flow condition. Samples of raw effluent
and treated effluent overflowing from the parallel plate separator were collected at every one hour interval and
composited for 8 hours. The composite sample was preserved and tested daily for parameters like pH, TDS, BOD
and COD.
Combined Growth system Start-up and operation structure
Plant start up
About 500 L of 22mm diax15mm height corrugated bio media was packed inside a module of 1500mm x 1500mm x
300mm size and submerged in the aeration tank existing at Effluent Treatment plant of the sea food processing
industry. The bio film formation was monitored daily and it took about 15 days for the film to be visually seen on
the surface of the bio-media. The bio-matrix was then fixed inside the aeration tank under trial and aeration was
continued in the aeration tank. MLSS level in the bottom portion of the aeration tank was maintained at 3000 mg/l.
The HBR comprising of suspended and attached growth culture is then operated at 1000L/day feed flow for a week
for system stabilization (Graham, 1977).
Plant operation
After the stabilization of HBR, the pilot plant was operated at feed flow rates of 1000 L/day and 1600 L/day
respectively, to ascertain the maximum organic matter removal efficiency. The system was operated continuously at
the above flow rates. Samples of raw effluent and treated effluent overflowing from the parallel plate separator were
collected at every one hour interval and composited for 8 hours. The composite sample was preserved and tested
daily for parameters like pH, TDS, BOD and COD.
Analytical methods
Several monitoring parameters were evaluated during the entire operation, including COD, pH and temperature. For
COD analysis, colorimetric method was used. (APHA, 2008).Temperature and pH were measured by using a
pH/temperature probe. The method used in pH measurement was generally in compliance with Standard Method
4500B (APHA, 2008).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The process performance and treatment efficiency of suspended growth system and combined growth system was
individually evaluated and then compared to ascertain the supremacy of the combined growth aerobic biological
treatment over the conventional suspended growth system. The study was conducted in two stages according to the
system configuration. The first stage was to study the performance of the Extended Aeration system for the designed
organic loading rate. The second stage was to evaluate the increase in performance efficiency of the Hybrid Bioreactor for the same input conditions of the Stage-I and also to ascertain the maximum organic removal efficiency of
the system (Fig.3).
Stage (I): Activated Sludge Process with Extended Aeration (Suspended Growth System)
In this stage, the following input conditions were maintained:
pH: 6.8 -7.2; TDS: 1980 - 2410 mg/l; TSS: 120-150 mg/l; COD: 1265 1475 mg/l ; and BOD: 628 - 750 mg/l .
The feed flow to Aeration tank was 1000 L/day; HRT in aeration tank was 3.375 days; MLSS level in aeration was
around 3100 mg/l and the DO was always more than 5 mg/l. As the effluent is from sea food processing industry
which contains adequate Nitrogen and Phosphorous, no external addition of nutrients were done. The results of pilot
plant study is given in Table-I
Stage (II): Hybrid Bio-Reactor (Combined Growth System)
In this stage, the following input conditions were maintained:
pH: 6.8 -7.2; TDS: 1980 - 2410 mg/l; TSS: 120-150 mg/l; COD: 1265 1475 mg/l ; and BOD: 628 - 750 mg/l
(Yilmaz muslu, 1986)
The feed flow to Aeration tank was 1000 L/day and 1600 L/day; HRT in extended aeration module was 2.875 days
for 1000 L/day flow and 1.796 days for 1600 l/day flow; MLSS level in extended aeration volume was around 3100

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mg/l; Volume of the media was 500 L and the DO was always more than 4 mg/l. No external addition of nutrients
was done as the effluent contains adequate nutrients. The results of pilot plant study is given in Table-II
TABLE I: Removal Efficiency of Suspended Growth System (Activated Sludge Process)
COD (mg/l)

BOD (mg/l)

Day

Feed
(l/day)

Inlet

Outlet

Inlet

Outlet

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Average

1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000

1290
1470
1390
1299
1420
1380
1450
1385
1292
1285
1366.1

175
210
189
179
195
185
193
190
179
170
186.5

645
750
690
650
730
700
710
715
650
625
686.5

25
29
28
26
25
19
22
22
21
21
23.8

COD Load
removed
(gm COD/d)
1115
1260
1201
1120
1225
1195
1257
1195
1113
1115
1180

BOD Load
removed
(gm BOD/d)
620
721
662
624
705
681
688
693
629
604
663

COD removal
Efficiency
(%)
86.44
85.72
86.42
86.24
86.28
86.6
86.7
86.3
86.16
86.78
87

BOD removal
Efficiency
(%)
96.14
96.14
95.96
96
96.58
97.3
96.92
96.94
96.78
96.64
97

2000
1800

COD load removed

1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
ASP1000

HBR1000

HBR1600

COD load removal efficiency

Fig I COD load removal efficiency comparison


TABLE II: Removal Efficiency of Hybrid Bio reactor (Combined Growth System)
COD (mg/l)

BOD (mg/l)

Day

Feed
(L/day)

Inlet

Outlet

Inlet

Outlet

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Average
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Average

1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1000
1600
1600
1600
1600
1600
1600

1475
1450
1280
1315
1345
1373
1380
1456
1289
1290
1345
1352

175
160
145
149
155
156.8
170
180
150
152
165
163.4

750
740
600
620
615
665
650
740
635
637
655
663.4

16
14
18
15
11
14.8
22
28
16
17
20
20.6

COD Load
removed
(gm COD/d)
1300
2064
1816
1865.6
1904
1790
1936
2041.6
1822.4
1820.8
1888
1901.76

BOD Load removed


(gm BOD/d)

COD removal
Efficiency (%)

BOD removal
Efficiency (%)

734
1161.6
931.2
968
966.4
953
1004.8
1139.2
990.4
992
1016
1028.48

88.14
88.98
88.68
88.68
88.48
89
87.7
87.64
88.38
88.22
87.74
87.936

97.88
98.12
97
97.6
98.22
98
96.62
96.22
97.5
97.34
96.96
96.928

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1200

BOD load removed

1000

800

600

400

200

0
ASP1000

HBR1000

HBR1600

BOD load removal efficiency


Fig II BOD load removal efficiency comparison

Fig. 3 Pilot Plant Setup

Fig.4 Media with biofilm

When the media with biofilm (Fig.4) was examined the biofilm formed contain different types of bacteria which
were responsible for the degradation of organic material from the effluent.
CONCLUSION
Based on the observation and the results obtained from this study, following conclusions were arrived at:
1- The organic matter removal efficiency of Combined Growth Aerobic biological Treatment system (HBR) was
50% higher than the conventional Suspended growth (ASP) system, for the same input conditions.
2- The HBR was able to produce treated effluent quality as ASP even after increasing the influent organic load
concentration by 60%.
In practice, any existing conventional ASP can be easily converted into HBR for handling additional organic loads
generated from process expansion, without construction of additional aeration tank volume.
Acknowledgement
K.V. Mohanan, Managing Director, K.V. Marine Exports, Chennai, India for permitting to carry out the pilot studies
at their facility with their effluent.

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