Wastes Treat Wastes Wilfredo I. Jose wilfredo.jose@upd.edu.

ph Department of Chemical Engineering University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Republic of the Philippines January 31, 2007 Abstract
The project aims to solve sanitation problems and environmental pollution due to the improper disposal of sewage using a low cost system, which consists of septic tanks, anaerobic reactor, aerobic reactor and algal pond. The project promotes and uses wastes materials as components of the wastewater treatment system. Septic tanks made from recycled plastics are examples. The septic tank effluent goes to the anaerobic reactor. The anaerobic system consists of immobilization materials made up of pyrolyzed biomass residues (e.g., rice hull, waste wood) with plastic wastes as binding agent to form aggregates. The aggregates are placed in perforated small waste plastic bottles, which are in turn placed in perforated waste plastic mineral water bottles (5 liters) and then stacked in the anaerobic chamber to form a system of anaerobic filters. The aerobic system utilizes the same type of microbial support but with different configuration. The granules are placed in 300 ml perforated waste plastic mineral water bottles arranged vertically, supported by a plastic structure. Aeration is provided by low cost blowers or air pumps. The algal pond has a lining made from waste plastics. Initially, the project drew large interest among local government units and small-scale industries. However, lack of funding hindered actual applications. At present, we are conducting experiments on anaerobic filters and aerobic attached-film bioreactors for wastewater from the food industries. A few commercial units have been installed and are working properly.

1. Introduction The Philippines has the problem of high levels of water pollution. Up to 58% of drinking water wells sampled are contaminated with coliform bacteria. 29% of monitored rivers do not have enough dissolved oxygen for fish, 64% are too polluted to be used for drinking water even if treated. 64% of monitored bays were too polluted for swimming. This water pollution is mainly due to population growth and urbanization. The major source of organic pollution is households (48%), followed by agriculture (37%) and industries (15%). More than 90% of the sewage from households is not disposed or treated in an environmentally acceptable manner. The cause of this is that many septic tanks are not watertight. The tank effluent, which is highly polluted, is not treated. Tanks are not emptied until they overflow. When emptied, septage from the tanks is not treated. These lead to economic and health toll such that 25 Filipinos die each day from diarrhea (mostly children). One third of all diseases are due to water pollution. Water with high
The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Directors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this paper and accepts no responsibility for any consequences of their use. Terminology used may not necessarily be consistent with ADB official terms.

fecal coliform counts can cause gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, hepatitis, dysentery, cholera, and ear infections. The Clean Water Act mandates that within 5 years all households, commercial centers, and public buildings must be connected to a sewerage system for highly urbanized communities (HUCs). Non-HUCs shall employ septage management system (pumping out septic tanks and treating the septage). All subdivisions and commercial establishments must have sewage treatment facilities to get ECC and permit to operate. Since 94% of HUCs have no sewerage system to connect to, the implementing rules and regulations state that septage management shall be employed (7 out of 116 cities have some form of sewerage system but only in small areas). Only 7% of the population of Metro Manila is connected to a piped sewerage system, compared to Dhaka, Bangladesh with 30%, Karachi and Phnom Penh with 50%. Septic tanks alone are not adequate. They require the treatment of its effluent. Currently, full tanks are not providing primary treatment – effluent is raw sewage. Many options for wastewater treatment are available. Aerobic systems (such as the activated sludge process) and anaerobic process such as anaerobic digestion) are employed. These are usually used in centralized treatment systems especially for urbanized communities. They cost higher in terms of capital investment and operation and maintenance. The simplest treatment method is the use of the septic tank. However, the effluent must be treated. This is usually employed in decentralized wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS). DEWATS include: 1. Septic Tanks 2. Anaerobic Filter 3. Anaerobic Reactor 4. Stabilization Stabilization Ponds/Lagoons 5. Constructed Wetlands 6. Reed Beds 2. Description of the Technology The project is a form of decentralized wastewater treatment system but it could also be part of a centralized system. It is about treating the effluent from septic tanks, which consists of an anaerobic filter, an aerobic attached film reactor, and an algal pond. The system from employs waste materials as components, which may lower the cost. Septic tanks made from recycled plastics are recommended. The anaerobic filter reactor can either made of waste plastics or concrete. It could be configured as upflow, downflow, or baffled reactor. The microbial support materials are made up of waste biomass residue (rice hull or coconut coir dust, as is or pyrolyzed and bound together by melted waste plastic). The aggregates are placed inside small perforated plastic bottles, which are in turn placed inside large perforated bottles (gallon sized mineral water bottles). The large bottles are stacked in the anaerobic tank. The support structures are made of waste plastics.

Fig. 1 Anaerobic filter reactor


The aerobic attached film reactor is similar to the anaerobic tank. It is also provided with microbial attachment system made of waste plastic. Perforated mineral water bottles (400 to 600 ml, top and bottom cut open) are welded side-by-side standing up. Two small-perforated plastic bottles are placed inside. The small bottles contain cut corrugated sheets (used cell phone cards, aluminum cans, tetra-pak, etc.) Two assembled pieces occupy the space near the sides of the tank (25% of total volume). Aeration is provided at the bottom of the elevated assembly. The structural support is made of recycled plastics. Using microbial support system is a form of process intensification. Since septic tank effluent is low strength wastewater, it cannot support and maintain the growth of free-floating microorganisms. The microbial support system provides the biofilms that degrades the wastes. The algal pond has a lining, which could be made from waste plastics. This step can remove nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients from the wastewater. It increases the pH that can kill coliforms.




Figure 2

Aerobic attached film reactor

We constructed a pilot-scale system consisting of an equalization tank, anaerobic filter reactor ( volume = 1 cu m), aerobic attached film system (volume = 0.5 cu m), and a clarifier. We tested the system using wastewater from a banana chip manufacturing plant.


Aerobic Attached Film reactor Clarifier

Anaerobic Filter

Equalization Tank

Figure 3

The pilot plant setup

1800 1600 1400 1200 COD, ppm 1000 800 600 400 200 0 -200 0 Influent
Figure 4


2 Effluent






Batch Number

Influent and Effluent COD


105 100
% COD Removal




95 90 85 80 75 1
% COD Reduction

92.61 89.14 84.64






Batch Number

Figure 5

Percent COD removal

We found that the performance of the system was satisfactory. 3. Current Activities Our present activities consist both of academic research and industrial applications. The title of the research is “Anaerobic and Aerobic Treatment of Food Processing Wastewater Using Discarded Solid Wastes”. The research project is under the ASEAN University Network SouthEast Asia Engineering Education Network (AUN/SEED NET), funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The masters student is Ms. Nguyen Thi Du from Hanoi University of Technology in Vietnam. Professor W. I. Jose and Professor Makoto Shoda of the Tokyo Institute of Technology are the co-advisers.


Figure 6 From left to right, Ms. Nguyen Thi Du, Prof. Makoto Shoda and Prof. W. I. Jose The treatment system consists of an equalization tank/neutralizer, anaerobic baffle reactor, an attached film aerobic reactor, and a clarifier. The microbial support materials are waste plastics and pyrolyzed biomass. The wastewater to be treated is banana chip manufacturing wastewater. The objective of the project is to utilize waste plastics and pyrolyzed biomass as microbial support materials in anaerobic and aerobic reactors for the treatment of organic materials.

Figure 7 Pyrolyzed rice hull, left and aggregates, right.


Figure 8 Perforated Yakult bottles

Figure 9 Small bottles with pyrolyzed rice hull aggregates

Figure 10 Perforated large bottles


Figure 11 Small bottles inside large bottles

Figure 12

Filter material inside the chambers


Figure 14 The anaerobic filter reactor

Figure 15 The aerobic attached film reactor We expect to obtain the following results: configuration of waste materials, characteristics of the support system, performance of the reactors in terms of COD/BOD

removal (organic loading rates) and hydraulic loading rates, methane production rate, proper startup of reactors, and effluent characteristics to comply with government regulations. 4. Benefits and Drawbacks The treatment process has many benefits: The system is low cost. It uses waste materials and helps solve problems in solid waste disposal. The technology is sound. For processing the solid wastes, it can be a source of livelihood for some people. The drawback with this system is that it is very labor intensive. The recommended plastic septic tank offers many benefits. It costs less than conventional septic tanks. It is easy to construct and install. It is durable and can last for many years. It solves another pollution problem because is made of recycled and scrap plastics. It can be used both for centralized and decentralized treatment systems. It can be reinstalled to another site. The drawback of the plastic septic tank is that it is not large enough and requires desludging every two or three years. 5. Appropriate Application: when and where this technology can be applied This system is recommended for individual households or group of household or even for centralized treatment system for small communities. This project can be replicated and scaled-up in the Philippines, as well as in other parts of the world. Processing centers for waste materials will be established in several regions of the country. On a smaller scale, the local government units can setup their own processing centers. The technology can be transferred to local government units that can be responsible for the utilization of the technology. 6. Results that can reasonably be expected The project will help mitigate the waste disposal problems. The health problem will be lessened and the pollution levels of the streams lowered. It will help open livelihood opportunities for solid waste collection. The technology can be extended to small industries to enhance the project viability. The activity later will also determine the social impacts and environmental implications of the project, as well as the economic viability considering the overall picture. 7. Lessons Learned Innovations can take place in small steps but can have larger impact. In this project, solving a problem can help solve another problem. Solving a problem in sanitation can help solve partly the problem of solid waste disposal. The success of the plastic septic tank in Korea can be replicated elsewhere in Asia. However it takes a long time. The plastic septic tank has been available since 1997 in the Philippines but it has not been widely used. It is time to promote this environmentally friendly product.

8. References Davis, M.L. and Cornwell, D.A. Introduction to Environmental Engineering. 3rd Edition. McGraw Hill. New York. 1998. Lin, S.D. Water and Wastewater Calculations Manual. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York. 2001. McGhee, T.J. Water Supply and Sewerage. McGraw-Hill, Inc. New York. 1991. www.jescs.org.jp. Johkasou Systems. The anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR): An appropriate technology for on-site sanitation. (2004). Foxon, K.M. et.al. in: Water SA Vol. 30 No. 5 (Special edition). Potential of the anaerobic baffled reactor as decentralized wastewater treatment system in the tropics. (2004). Koottatep, T. et.al. Paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Onsite Wastewater Treatment & Recycling in Perth, Australia, in February 2004

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