Design of RO Plants for Reclaiming of Treated Municipal Water Ibrahim S. Al-Mutaz 1, Mohammed A. Al-Ghunaimi2, Ali A.

Al-Mutlaq3 Chemical Eng. Dept. College of Engineering, King Saud University, P.O. Box 800, Riyadh 11421, Saudi Arabia.
2 1

Operations and Maintenance General Manager, 3 R and D Center Manager, Riyadh Region Water and Sewerage Authority, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Presented at the Water & Wastewater Europe Conference on May 25-27, 2004 Barcelona, Spain Abstract Riyadh Municipal Treatment Plant has a capacity of 200,000 m3/day of wastewater. Wastewater is screened, de-gritted and aerated in two-parallel basins. The aerated sewage is then distributed to four primary sedimentation tanks. The clarified liquor is then subjected to biological treatment based on the activated sludge process with nitrification/denitrification in a single tank. The liquor passes alternating aerobic and anoxic zones. The biological treated liquor is then distributed to 12 secondary sedimentation tanks for separation of clarified water and sludge withdrawal. The clarified water is treated in sand gravity filters. Finally it undergoes chlorination. The reuse of treated municipal wastewater for irrigation is the oldest and largest reuse. However, water with good quality can be produced if reverse osmosis (RO) is used for the treatment of the tertiary treated municipal water. This will help in preserving the natural strategic water resources, reducing the environmental pollution as well as providing alternative resources. This paper describes the design basics of utilizing a reverse osmosis technology in the treatment of tertiary treated municipal water. Special emphasis will be made on the design parameters and membrane characteristics for reclaiming effluent from Riyadh Municipal Treatment Plant. Introduction Wastewater reuse is an essential factor in water resources management in many arid, semiarid and water-short regions. Saudi Arabia is an arid country with a total land of 2.253 M Km2. The average rainfall is less than 101.6 mm (4 in). Water consumption increases rapidly. Almost 85% of water consumption is for agriculture. During the third five-year development plan (1980-1985), Ministry of Planning in Saudi Arabia estimated water balance in the country as shown in table 1. Wastewater treatment supplied only 5% of the 1985 Saudi water balance. It increased to about 20% in year 2000[1,2]. The reuse of treated wastewater in Saudi Arabia is essential in view of the limited availability of natural resources of fresh water and the large decline of groundwater levels and deterioration of its quality. Wastewater treatment and reuse provide a way of securing additional water supplies for a variety of uses.

Table 1: Water Balance in Saudi Arabia, million m3/day 1980 Water Resources: Non-renewable Renewable Desalination Urban Waste Water Utilization: Urban & Industry Rural & Livestock Irrigated Agriculture Surplus Total Resources Total Utilization 3450 1145 63 -502 27 1832 2247 4658 4658 1985 3450 1145 605 140 828 28 1873 2611 5340 5340 1990 3450 1145 794 335 1211 31 2345 2137 5724 5724 2000 3450 1145 1199 730 2279 38 3220 986 6523 6523

Although the use of treated wastewater is limited at present in Saudi Arabia, it represents a potentially important source of water for irrigation and other uses in industry, public parks, and landscape irrigation. The volume of treated wastewater in the major urban centers is estimated to be around 1.3 Mm3/day, of which 30-40% is treated to the tertiary level [3]. The average coverage of sewerage networks in the major cities is very low (30-40%). A small fraction of the currently treated water about 16%- is being reused mainly for agriculture irrigation. The sewage collection network in Riyadh covers 48% of the households, providing service to about 57 % of the population. The Province of Riyadh reuses the largest amount of treated wastewater in the Kingdom, amounting to 33% of the total annually treated effluent, mainly for irrigation. The operation started in 1982 with the establishment of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), with responsibilities in the operation of the infrastructure and the monitoring of water reuse practices and compliance of farmers to standards and guidelines.

Description of Riyadh Wastewater Treatment Plant Figure 1 shows a schematic flow diagram of Riyadh sewage treatment plant (RSTP). The typical quality of Riyadh wastewater is displayed on table 2. Wastewater is first screened by mechanically raked fine screens and afterwards lifted up by archimedean screw pumps to insure a smooth flow through the complete plant [4]. Degritting is effectuated in two parallel grit chambers equipped with circular scrapers and grit washing facilities. The raw sewage is treated in two parallel-aerated basins for oil and fat removal. The equipment consists of scraper bridges, sand pumps and aeration equipment. The compressed air is produced by four positive displacement blowers.

The pretreated sewage is distributed to four primary sedimentation tanks which are equipped with circular scrapers with sludge draw-off facilities and surface scum removal devices.

Crude Sewage Mechanical


Grit Removal

Grease Removal

Primary Sedimentation Tanks
Returned Biomass Waste Sludge

Aeration Tanks
(With Nitrification & De-nitrification Zones)

Secondary Sedimentation Tanks

Recirculation Wasting

S l u d g e

Final Effluent to Ministry of Agriculture & Water for Reuse Chlorination

Gravity Sand Filters

Sludge Disposal to Fertilizer Company Pre-Thickners

Anaerobic Digestors


Mechanical Dewatering
(Belt Filter Press)

Figure 1 Schematic flow diagram of Riyadh sewage treatment plant[4]

Table 2 Typical Composition of Riyadh Wastewater, mg/l
Constituent Concentration Influent Effluent* Total dissolved solids 1300 1100 Suspended solids 250 35 Settleable solids (mL/1) 3 ND BOD5, 20°C 200 30 COD 450 90 Ammonia - nitrogen 25 25 Nitrates as nitrogen 1 Phosphates 10 10 Chlorides 190 210 Alkalinity 200 190 Grease 100 10 Temperature, °C 29 27 Free available chlorine 0 0.8 Total chlorine residual 0 4 pH 7.3 7.4 Dissolved oxygen 0 5 Alkyi benzene sulfonates 12-20 5 Total coliform Millions/mL 50-100/100 mL

before the tertiary treatment

The clarified liquor is then subjected to the biological treatment based on the activated sludge process with nitrification/ denitrification in a single tank. The liquor passes alternative aerobic and anoxic zones. The oxidation/nitrification of the biomass is performed by injection of compressed air through porous pipes. The compressed air is produced by 5 turbo compressors. The anoxic zones are equipped with submersible mixers for avoiding sedimentation and improve homogenization of the liquid. The biologically treated liquor is then distributed to 12 secondary sedimentation tanks which are equipped with circular scrapers with facilities for withdrawal of sludge and clarified water. The clarified water is treated in sand gravity filters. The plant consists of 52 filter basins. Filters are regenerated by a backflow of chlorinated water and scour air, followed by a rinse of water only. The effluent undergoes chlorination prior to discharge into the wadi. The withdrawn sludge is recirculated by six archimedean pumps and fed back to aeration tanks. The excess sludge is conveyed back to the outlet of the grease removal. The withdrawn sludge from primary clarifiers is conveyed to the digester tanks by means of six piston pumps. Digestion takes place in 6 unheated tanks with gas stirring. The digested sludge is then pumped to the six belt filter presses. Prior to feeding of the sludge in the filter presses the sludge is mixed with polymer to increase the dewatering characteristics. The dewatered sludge is finally conveyed to silos for storage before transportation with trucks to sites outside the plants. Table 2 also shows the composition of the treated wastewater effluent from Riyadh sewage treatment plant. The following list displays the basic design parameters of the plant:

Nominal daily flow rate : Hourly flow rate : Peak flow rate factor : Peak flow rate : : Average BOD influent Average SS influent : Average BOD effluent : Average SS effluent : Average N-NO2 effluent : Fecal coliforms in effluent :

200,000 m3/d 8,333 m3/h 1.6 13,333 m3/h 300 mg/l – 60,000 kg/d 400 mg/l – 80,000 kg/d 10 mg/l 10 mg/l 10 mg/l Average value after 7 days MPN=2.2 no value above 23 after 30 days

RO Process Description The reverse osmosis process consists of three main steps: (1) pretreatment, (2) membrane assembly system and (3) posttreatment. Figure 2 shows the basic arrangements of RO system.

Figure 2 Basic Components of Reverse Osmosis System The purpose of the pretreatment step is to avoid any risk of clogging, fouling or scaling of the membrane. Pretreatment is an important aspect of RO system. All RO devices required pretreatment to remove the suspended solids, scalants, foulants and colloidal matter. In the pretreatment system, some chemicals are usually used before the filtration step. Chlorine is often injected to disinfect feed water. Then copper sulfate is sometime used to eliminate the danger of membrane damage by chlorine. Sodium bisulfate may be used to dechlorinate the feed water. Ferric chloride, alum or polymers are the typical coagulants used at the frefilter stage. In the filtration stage, a gravity filter with different sand particle sizes is used. Then a fine cartridge filter is used after the sand filtration. For ground water treatment, sulfuric acid or sodium hexameta phosphate (SHMP) is often used to prevent carbonate scale. The exact dosage of each chemicals depends on the chemical analysis of the feed water. In the posttreatment step, product water passes through a decarbonation system, a pH adjustment system and chlorine injection to comply with the required quality and use of the product water. Calcium hydroxide with a concentration of 30-40 ppm is added to the product water to adjust its alkalinity. The purpose of chlorine addition is to eliminate the presence of microorganisms during storage and distribution. Several types of RO membranes are commercially available. These are prepared either as flat sheet or as hollow fibers made from cellulose acetate (CA) ester or aromatic polyamide (PA). There are different ways of packing RO membranes. Of these, three configurations have been produced commercially: tubular, spiral wound (SW) and hollow fine fiber (HFF). Hollow fine fiber and spiral wound modules have proved to be appropriate for several types of raw water in RO desalination systems. Spiral wound has found many applications in the wastewater reclamation. The success of the spiral-wound device has been related to the capability to package a relatively large amount of membrane surface area into a relatively small element while maintaining a certain degree of "cleanability", which, of course, is particularly important for wastewater processes.

Reverse Osmosis System Configuration RO configurations include single stage, two stages, and two-pass systems. Selection among these configurations depends on the desired quality of the product water. Single stage system gives the simplest layout of all configurations and its use is quite common on various desalination applications. The two-stage system is quite common for brackish water use, where it is necessary to increase the overall recovery ratio. A single stage RO unit with a 99.5% salt rejection ratio would generate a product with 25 ppm for feed water with 5000 ppm salinity. The rejected brine salinity would 10,000 ppm for a product recovery ratio of 50%. To ensure efficient use of the feed stream, two-stage system might be necessary. The two-pass system is often required to provide low salinity product. Generally the following factors affect the choice of the RO units: 1. Salinity and quality of feedwater 2. Feed temperature 3. Permeate recovery and Membrane salt passage In the membrane system, water and small portion of dissolved salt pass through the membrane due to the application of high pressure. The flow of water and salts, Qw and Qs , across the membrane depend on many factors. The flow of water is directly proportional to the differential pressure across the membrane, ΔP. Part of the differential pressure across the membrane had to be use to overcome the osmotic pressure across the membrane, Δπ. On the other hand, the salt flow rate is directly proportional to the differential salt concentration across the membrane, ΔC. The basic mathematical relations often used in RO system are:

Qw Qs Cp SP

= A ( ΔP - Δπ ) = Ks ( ΔC ) = Qs / Qw = Cp x 100 / Cf

(1) (2) (3) (4)

Where A is the membrane permeability coefficient for water. Ks is the membrane permeability coefficient for salt. Cp is the salt concentration in the product stream. Cf is the salt concentration in the feed stream. SP is the percentage of salt passage.

Figure 3 Water Factory 21 wastewater reclamation system flow diagram. A typical configuration of conventional pretreatment is shown in figure 3[5], which outlines the tertiary pretreatment process applied at 5 mgd RO reclamation plant located at Water Factory 21 (WF 21), Orange County, California. The pretreatment consists of flocculation, lime clarification, recarbonation with CO2 and settling and slow gravity filtration. The biological activity is controlled applying chlorination. Lime clarification is a very effective process in improving feed water quality, but is expensive, requires large area and produces sludge, which can be difficult to disposal. In some smaller systems the lime clarification and gravity filtration is replaced by in line flocculation followed by two-stage pressure filtration and cartridge filtration. At Water Factory 21 plant, RO membranes made of cellulose acetate material, which was membrane of choice for majority of the reclamation systems, experienced rapid fouling during operation. The basic water treatment process criteria consist of designing the system to deliver reclaimed water equal to or better than the current water quality for all constituent parameters. In general, the following design criteria have to be addressed when considering the application of RO system to a wastewater application [6]: 1) Chemistry of the soluble solids: One must make certain that precipitation will not occur after concentration of the feed supply soluble solids. Operation on a stream containing 500 ppm calcium sulfate, for example, at a l0x factor (90%) recovery will not work in the long run, for example, since calcium sulfate precipitates at around 2000 ppm. 2) Filtration of insoluble solids: The more insoluble solids removed the better the operation of a membrane system. Generally, if one can achieve filtration to five micron, chances of success are greatly improved. It should be noted that simple filtration using cartridge filters alone is generally not sufficient. Typically, a more extensive prefiltration followed by 5 micron cartridge filtration is the most workable design. 3) Recovery per membrane element: The lower the percent recovery per any given membrane element within the system, the greater the chances for success. Of course,

this must be balanced against the additional expense in pumping power for lower percent recoveries per element. Twenty percent recovery per element, for example, is too high. A good design should be well below that level. 4) Flow velocity across the membrane surface: Irrespective of meeting the percent recovery per membrane element needs, the absolute velocity across the membrane surface must be considered. Using a typical wastewater design spacer material, a flow of 20 gpm (75.7 Lpm) exiting from any given eight inch diameter membrane element in a system is not great enough. In this regard, a reclamation system has a pretreatment of sand filtration followed by carbon filter then cartridge filter was studied to treat the tertiary effluent from Riyadh wastewater treatment plant. RO unit has three stages. Three pressure vessels in the first stage, two pressure vessels in the second stage and one pressure vessel in the third stage. So there will be 3 independent reject outlets. No reject circulation is assumed. Each pressure vessel has two elements. Feed water is maintained at a rate of 4.67 m3/day. The conversion factor is 60% so total permeated water is 2.8 m3/day. The computer projection of such a system shows an excellent product quality as displayed on table 3. Table 3 Water Analysis for the Assumed System, (mg/l)
Parameter pH NHt K Na Mg Ca Sr Ba HCO3 NO3 Cl F SO4 SiO2 Feed 7.11 4.2 0 115 22.9 110.1 0 0 122.1 0 114.5 1.4 350 19 Permeate 5.2 0.2 0 1.5 0.2 0.9 0 0 2 0 1.5 0 0 0.5 Reject 1 7.35 6.1 0 168.6 33.7 161.7 0 0 179 0 167.9 2.1 513.8 27.8 Reject 2 7.35 8.5 0 235.5 47.1 226 0 0 249.8 0 234.5 2.9 718.2 38.7 Reject 3 7.35 10.3 0 285.4 57.1 274.2 0 0 302.6 0 284.2 3.5 871.3 46.8

The quality of reclaimed wastewater desalination by RO meets all the requirements of drinking water in terms of parameters in all drinking water standards. Generally, the chemical and physical characteristics of Riyadh treated wastewater are within the standards required for unrestricted irrigation. Table 4 illustrated the proposed Saudi standards for wastewater effluent as well as the FAO and USA EPA quality guidelines for unrestricted irrigation.

Table 4 Water Quality Standards for Unrestricted Irrigation
Parameter BOD TSS Aluminium Arsenic Beryll ium Boron Cadmium Chromium Cobalt Copper Cyanide Fluoride Iron Lead Lithium Manganese Mercury Molybdenum Nickel Selenium Vanadium Zinc pH Oil and Grease Phenol Fecal coliform Turbidity Chloride Sulfate Nitrogen Sod. Ads. Ratio Proposed Saudi Standards 10 10 5 0.1 0.1 0.7 0.01 0.1 0.05 0.4 0.05 2 5 0.1 2.5 0.2 0.001 0.01 0.2 0.02 0.1 4 6.0-8.4 Absent 0.002
MPN 2.2/lOOmL

Maximum contaminant level (MCL), mg/l EPA FAO Agricultural Landscaping 20 15 5 5 5 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.75 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.05 0.05 0.05 0.2 0.2 0.2 1 1 2 5 5 5 5 5 5 2.5 2.5 2.5 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.2 0.1 0.1 2 2 2 6.0-9.0 Nil 50
MPN 1000/lOOmL MPN 2.2/lOOmL

2.2 NTU 280 10 -



100-200 200-400 8-18

Conclusions Revere osmosis units can be used effectively to treat municipal effluent to reduce contaminants level to potable water quality. Wastewater reclamation by RO offers great promise for a sustainable reduction in cost, conserving natural resources as well as marked improvements of pollution removal efficiency. Reverse osmosis can remove dissolved solids which cannot be removed by biological or other conventional municipal treatment processes. In addition, RO membranes can also lower organics, color, and nitrate levels. However, extensive pretreatment and periodic cleaning are usually needed to maintain acceptable membrane water fluxes.

Reference 1. Ibrahim S. Al-Mutaz, “Treated Wastewater As a Growing Water Resources For Agriculture Use”, Desalination 73, 27, 1989. 2. Ibrahim S. Al-Mutaz, “Utilization of Treated Wastewater in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia”, International Conference on Air/Water and Environmental Pollution and Hazardous Wastes, Bombay, India, Feb. 11-12, 1988 3. Ali Al-Tokhais, “Future of Water Resources and Development Requirements in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, the Future Vision of the Saudi Economy Symposium, Ministry of Planning, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2003. 4. Abdulallah S. Al-Mozini, “Steady State Modeling of the Activated Sludge Process in Riyadh Sewage treatment Plant”, Master thesis, Chemical Engineering Dept., King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2004. 5. Mark Wilf and Steven Alt, “Application of low fouling RO membrane elements for reclamation of municipal wastewater”, Desalination 132, 11, 2000. 6. GE Water Technologies, “Wastewater Recovery using Reverse Osmosis”, .

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