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High Temperature Effects on Activated Sludge Treatment Performance and Sludge Quality in a Recycle Mill Pam Norris McKinley

Paper Co. P.O. Box 100 Prewitt, NM 87045 USA Richard Marshall, P.E. Marshall Environmental Training and Consulting 2870 Duchess Place Corvallis, OR 97330 USA Michael Richard, Ph.D. The Sear-Brown Group 201 South Meldrum Street Fort Collins, CO 80521 USA * author for correspondence
*

ABSTRACT Mill wastewater temperature has been increasing due to newer mill processes. This has resulted in biological upset and poor performance of mill activated sludge systems at treatment temperatures above 35C. McKinley Paper Co., a 100% recycle mill, operates a sequencing batch reactor activated sludge system for treatment of its wastewater. This mill has had frequent and severe biological upsets in wastewater treatment. One possible cause of these upsets is a hot mill wastewater above 35-40C. A bench scale study was conducted by the papermill personnel to evaluate the effect of high treatment temperature in the range 35-56C on activated sludge performance and sludge quality. The bench scale study findings duplicated and explained the treatment problems that frequently occur in the full scale system at higher temperature. As the treatment temperature was increased above 35C in the bench scale study, sludge quality deteriorated with dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filament growth, poor floc formation, and filamentous bulking. COD removal also declined with increasing temperature above 45C, paralleling the deterioration in sludge quality. An important finding was the high temperature selection or elimination of specific filamentous bacteria causing sludge bulking, not previously reported. The findings of this study have implications to all mill activated sludge systems operated at higher temperature.

INTRODUCTION Mill wastewater temperature has been increasing due to newer mill processes. This has resulted in biological upset and poor performance of mill activated sludge systems. A number of systems have experienced biological upset at treatment temperatures above 35C. The papermill, located near Prewitt, NM, is a 100% recycle linerboard mill producing 200,000 tons per day. The mill is completely closed with zero effluent discharge. Wastewater treatment involves three stages: primary, secondary and tertiary. A dissolved air flotation unit is used for primary treatment. The secondary or biological treatment step utilizes a two-basin sequencing batch reactor (SBR) system. The tertiary step includes microfiltration and reverse osmosis. Historically, biological wastewater treatment has been difficult with poor sludge quality, extensive filamentous bulking, and frequent solids losses from the process. This has been due to high wastewater organic acid concentration, at times over 2,000 mg/L, and high SBR temperatures in excess of 41C. Poor biological treatment performance has frequently made it difficult to produce enough treated wastewater to meet mill production needs.

Studies were undertaken at the papermill to examine high temperature effects on sludge quality and treatment performance. A small scale SBR reactor was operated using mill wastewater as feed. Two studies were performed. In the first study, the reactor temperature was slowly raised over a 76-day period (approximately 8 sludge ages) from 25 to 56C and the effect on sludge quality and treatment performance monitored. In the second study, the reactor temperature was held relatively constant at 40 to 45C for 37 days (4 sludge ages) and the effect on sludge quality and treatment performance monitored to determine whether a stable treatment biomass could be obtained in this temperature range.

METHODS A small-scale reactor was operated in the lab with mill wastewater supplemented with nutrients analogous to the full scale system. The reactor consisted of a one cu.ft. plexiglass cube (28.3 L). The reactor temperature was controlled by placing the reactor in a heated waterbath with a submergible heater in the reactor. Aeration was supplied using coarse bubble aerators. The reactor was operated as a SBR with a 12-hour treatment cycle (two cycles per day). Operational phases were: preaeration 1 hour; feed plus aeration 9 hours; settle 1 hour; and decant 1 hour. Daily measurements (each treatment cycle) included: influent wastewater chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS), pH and temperature; reactor mixed liquor suspended solids concentration (MLSS), pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration and sludge settled sludge volume (SVI); and effluent COD, TSS, total inorganic nitrogen (ammonia plus nitrate) and ortho-phosphorus. Reactor samples were collected three times per week (approximately every other day) and sent to the Sear-Brown laboratory in Fort Collins, CO for microbiological tests. Microbiological measures of sludge quality included: extent of floc formation and dispersed growth (single bacteria or filaments); maximum floc diameter; filament abundance; identification of filaments present; presence and amount of zoogloea; and presence and type of higher life forms. Filament abundance and dispersed growth were scored on a relative scale of 1 to 7 (1 = few; 2 = some; 3 = common; 4 = very common; 5 = abundant; 6 = excessive; and 7 = composed the entire culture). All chemical and physical tests were done according to the procedures in Standard Methods (1). Microbiological measurements of sludge quality and filament identification were done using the methods of Jenkins et al. (2). The influent wastewater COD ranged from about 1,500 to 5,500 mg/L, averaging 4,000 mg/L. The reactor DO concentration was maintained in the range 0.5 - 5.0 mg/L, generally above 2.0 mg/L, and nutrients were in excess during the studies with effluent total inorganic nitrogen (ammonia plus nitrate) in the range 1.0 - 10.0 mg/L and orthophosphorus in the range 1.0 - 25.0 mg/L. The target reactor MLSS concentration was approximately 6,000 mg/L and this was adjusted daily by manual sludge wasting to yield an approximate sludge age of 9 days. However, both the MLSS concentration and the sludge age varied significantly, due to frequent and extensive solids losses from the reactor.

RESULTS Study 1 In study 1, the reactor temperature was gradually increased from 25C to 56C over a 76-day period (8 sludge ages). Reactor chemical and microbiological changes were quantitated as described in the methods. Following are the findings.

The activated sludge SVI versus reactor temperature is shown in Figure 1. The type of filaments present and their abundance in the activated sludge versus temperature are shown in Figure 2. The sludge SVI was relatively high at the start of the study at 25-35C, due to the occurrence of three filaments causing filamentous bulking: type 0914, Thiothrix II and Nostocoida limicola II. These filaments are caused by high organic acids, a characteristic of the wastewater at the papermill. The sludge SVI then declined to the 100-200 ml/g range from 35 to 45C. This coincided with a loss of Thiothrix II and N. limicola II from the sludge in this temperature range. The sludge SVI then increased to high values of 500 ml/g or greater above a temperature of 45C, due to severe filamentous bulking. Filament growth at temperatures above 45C was all due to type 0914, which grew well up to at least 56C. These findings showed that filamentous bulking by type 0914 became a serious operational problem at temperatures above 45C. Effluent TSS values versus reactor temperature are shown in Figure 3 and the occurrence of dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filaments is shown in Figures 4 and 5. Here it can be seen that effluent TSS values were frequently high, ranging from 500 to more than 5000 mg/L. This TSS was due to the high growth of both dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filaments (type 0914), as shown in Figures 4 and 5. There was a general trend of higher effluent TSS as the reactor temperature increased, with very high effluent TSS values in the range 1000 to 2000 mg/L above a temperature of 50C. It appeared that there were several temperature regions where dispersed growth and effluent TSS were relatively low, e.g. at 35C and 45C. These may have been due to temperature regions where certain floc-forming species had a growth advantage. The maximum floc size (diameter) in the activated sludge versus temperature is shown in Figure 6. Floc size remained relatively constant to about 40C, then declined with increasing temperature. Floc formation was lost entirely above a temperature of 50C, leaving only dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filaments as the reactor biomass. The increase in dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filament growth with increasing temperature coincided with reduced floc formation at higher temperature. The occurrence of zoogloea and higher life forms (protozoa) in the sludge versus temperature is shown in Figure 7. Higher life forms were present in the activated sludge at temperatures to 35C, then were lost at temperatures above this. Zoogloea occurred in the temperature range 30-40C, then were lost above 40C. These findings demonstrate the mesophilic growth of both higher life forms and zoogloea, with their loss at temperatures above 35-40C. COD removal versus temperature is shown in Figure 8 and effluent COD values versus temperature are shown in Figure 9. Although there was high variation in COD removal from day to day, COD removal showed a slight increase with increasing temperature in the range 30 to 45C. However, COD removal significantly declined above a temperature of 45C, to 60% or less removal. Effluent COD values varied significantly during the study, but were very high above a temperature of 45-50C. These observations indicate adequate COD removal up to a temperature of 45C, but decreasing removal at temperatures above 45C. In summary, sludge quality started to deteriorate above a temperature of 35C, with poor floc formation, high single bacteria and filament dispersed growth, and severe filamentous bulking. Filament growth above 35-40C was all due to type 0914, demonstrating its thermotolerant growth. COD removal was maintained up to a temperature of 45C, but declined at higher temperature. These findings indicate sludge quality problems above a temperature of 35C and loss of COD removal above a temperature of 45C.

Study 2 In the first study, there was some indication of stable operation at a temperature of 35-45C. A second study was done to examine whether a stable biomass could be developed at 40-45C over a longer time period. The bench scale reactor was operated at 40-45C for four sludge ages (approximately a 9-day sludge age) with measurement of sludge quality and treatment performance as in the first study. Following are the findings.

The sludge SVI versus time at 40-45C is shown in Figure 10. The type of filaments present and their abundance verses time are shown in Figure 11. The sludge SVI was relatively low during the first 2-3 sludge ages, but showed an increasing trend with time thereafter, culminating in high SVI values to 500 ml/g during the fourth sludge age. The types of filaments present in the sludge changed during this time. Initially, type 0914, Thiothrix II and N. limicola II were present in the sludge. Thiothrix II and N. limicola II declined after about two sludge ages, while type 0914 increased to become the dominant filament present after three sludge ages. These findings indicate that at 40-45C, filament growth increased to cause severe filamentous bulking, and that the filaments Thiothrix II and N. limicola II were lost at this temperature while type 0914 increased. Effluent TSS values versus time at 40-45C are shown in Figure 12. The occurrence of dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filaments versus time is shown in Figures 13 and 14. Effluent TSS values were relatively low through the first 2-3 sludge ages, then significantly increased to high values after this. There was a large increase in dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filaments that paralleled the effluent TSS increase. Sustained operation of the reactor at 40-45C resulted in high dispersed growth and high effluent TSS. The maximum floc size in the activated sludge versus time at 40-45C is shown in Figure 15. Maximum floc size gradually decreased with time from 2000 to 400 um diameter at 40-45C. This coincided with high dispersed growth and high effluent TSS. The occurrence of zoogloea and higher life forms in the sludge versus time at 40-45C is shown in Figure 16. Higher life forms only occurred briefly at the start of the study and were insignificant thereafter. This indicates their growth to be limited to <40C. Zooglea were moderate in amount for the first 2-3 sludge ages, then declined to a low amount (and were probably about to be lost entirely) after four sludges. COD removal versus time at 40-45C is shown in Figure 17 and effluent COD values versus time are shown in Figure 18. COD removal was maintained through three sludge ages, but showed some decrease after this. Effluent COD values gradually increased over the four sludge age period from about 700 to 1600 mg/L. These findings indicate a gradual loss of process efficiency at COD removal over time at 40-45C. Stable COD removal was not obtained at this temperature. These findings indicate that thermal stress was starting to occur at 40-45C, resulting in filamentous bulking by type 0914; a smaller floc size, dispersed growth, and high effluent TSS; and reduced COD removal. A stable biomass with good treatment was not achieved at 40-45C.

DISCUSSION COD removal efficiencies for pulp and papermill activated sludge systems have been reported to decrease at treatment temperatures above 35C (3,4) and to remain stable at treatment temperatures above 35C (5,6). In this study, COD removal efficiency was maintained up to about 40C, but declined above this temperature. In the second study, a significant amount of time, 2-4 sludge ages, was needed for the effect of high temperature (4045C) to significantly impact sludge quality and COD removal. Sludge quality and COD removal were relatively good for the first 1-2 sludge ages following a temperature increase to 40-45C, but these deteriorated after two sludge ages. This time lag has implication in practice for mills with wastewater temperature above 35C. Changes in sludge quality and treatment efficiency caused by high temperature may go unrecognized or may not be associated with treatment temperature, since these changes will occur relatively slowly over several sludge ages. Little information exists on the temperature tolerance of filamentous bacteria in activated sludge. Most of these have been considered mesophilic, however, with little testing having been done due to a lack of pure cultures for testing.

Two filaments, Nostocoida limicola II and Thiothrix II, common filaments in activated sludge at lower temperature, were lost from the system at a temperature >35C. Thus, these two filaments are mesophilic. Type 0914, in contrast, grew well and caused treatment problems to a temperature of 56C. Type 0914 is thus thermotolerant. This is the first report of thermophilic growth for a filament in activated sludge. In a survey of the filament types responsible for bulking in 29 pulp and papermill activated sludge systems for 19821990 (7), type 0914 was an uncommon filament, accounting for less than 3% of bulking episodes. In contrast, type 0914 was ranked 4th and accounted for 24% of bulking episodes in a second survey of 80 pulp and papermill systems conducted in 1996. The increase in the prevalence of type 0914 recently may in part be due to the trend in the industry towards higher wastewater temperature due to mill process changes and the thermotolerant nature of type 0914. A cooling tower was added to the treatment system in 1999 to maintain wastewater temperature below 32-33 C in the summer months. Sludge quality has improved dramatically since this time with less filament growth, better settling sludge, and a stable process.

CONCLUSIONS Bench scale studies duplicated full-scale system experience at high temperature operation >35C. Operation of the bench scale sequencing batch reactor above 35C lead to high filament growth and filamentous bulking, loss of floc formation, high dispersed single bacteria and dispersed filament growth, and high effluent TSS. Treatment temperature above 45C resulted in a complete loss of floc formation, reduced COD removal, and high effluent COD. The bench scale study also showed the mesophilic nature of two common filaments (Thiothrix II and N. limicola II), zoogloea and higher life forms. An unexpected finding was the thermotolerant growth of the filament type 0914 to at least 56C. A stable activated sludge was not obtained in this study at a temperature above 35C. These findings have major significance to pulp and papermill activated sludge systems operated at high temperature >35C. Sludge quality and treatment performance will probably be poor at high temperature. The only recourse for this problem is reduced wastewater temperature, using wastewater cooling.

References 1. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 20th Ed., American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C., 1998. 2. Jenkins, D., M.G. Richard and G.T. Daigger, Manual on the Causes and Control of Activated Sludge Bulking and Foaming, 2nd Ed., Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, 1993. 3. Flippen, T.H. and W.W. Eckenfelder, Jr., "Effect of Elevated Temperature on the Activated Sludge Process", proceedings of the 1994 TAPPI Environmental Conference, p. 947, Portland, OR. 4. Tripath, C.S. and G.D. Allen, "Feasibility Study of Thermophilic Aerobic Biological Treatment of Bleached Kraft Pulp Mill Effluent", preceedings of the 1998 TAPPI Environmental Conference, p. 1189. 5. Barr, T.A., J.M. Taylor and S.J.B. Duff, "Effect of HRT, SRT and Temperature on the Performance of Activated Sludge Reactors Treating Kraft Mill Effluent", Water Res. 30(4):799, 1996. 6. Rintala, J. and R. Lepisto, "Thermophilic, Anaerobic-Aerobic and Aerobic Treatment of Kraft Bleaching Effluents", Water Sci. Technol. 28(11), 1993.

7. Richard, M.G., "Recent Changes in the Prevalence and Causes of Bulking Filamentous Bacteria in Pulp and Paper Mill Activated Sludge Systems", proceedings of the 1997 TAPPI Environmental Conference, p. 553, MinneapolisSaint Paul, MN.

Figure 1. Study 1:
Sludge SVI vs. Temperature
60 55 50 45 40 Temperature, C 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days 0 500 1000 1500 SVI, ml/g 2000 2500 3000

SVI

Temperature

Figure 2. Study 1:
Filament Type vs. Temperature
70 7

60

50

40

30

20

10

0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days

Type 0914

Thiothrix II

N. limicola II

Temperature

Filament Abundance

Temperature, C

Figure 3. Study 1:
Effluent TSS vs. Temperature
60 5000

50 4000

3000

30

2000 20

1000 10

0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days

Effluent TSS

Temperature

Effluent TSS, mg/L

40

Temperature, C

Figure 4. Study 1:
Dispersed Bacteria vs. Temperature
60 55 50 45 5 40 6 7

35 30 25 20

2 15 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days Dispersed Bacteria Temperature 0

Dispersed Bacteria

Temperature, C

Figure 5. Study 1:
Dispersed Filaments vs. Temperature
60 55 50 45 5 6 7

35 30 25 20

2 15 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days 0

Dispersed Filaments

Temperature

Dispersed Filaments

40

Temperature, C

Figure 6. Study 1:
Floc Size vs. Temperature
60 55 50 800 45 700 40 1000

900

Temperature, C

35 30 25 20

500

400

300 15 200 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days 100

Floc Size

Temperature

Floc Size, um

600

Figure 7. Study 1:
Zooglea and HLF vs. Temperature
60 55 50 45 5 40 6 7

35 30 25 20

2 15 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days 0

HLF

Zooglea

Temperature

Zooglea and HLF Abundance

Temperature, C

Figure 8. Study 1:
COD Removal % vs. Temperature
60 55 50 80 45 70 40 35 30 25 20 30 15 20 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days 10 60 100

90

50

40

COD Removal %

Temperature

COD Removal %

Temperature, C

Figure 9. Study 1:
Effluent COD vs. Temperature
60 55 50 45 5000 40 6000 7000

35 30 25 20

4000

3000

2000 15 10 5 0 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 Days 0

1000

Effluent COD

Temperature

Effluent COD, mg/L

Temperature, C

Figure 10. Study 2:


Sludge SVI vs. Time at 40-45C
50 45 40 35 500 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

Temperature, C

30 25 20 15 10 5 0

SVI

Temperature

SVI, mg/L

Figure 11. Study 2:


Filament Type vs. Time at 40-45C
50 7

45

4 35 3 30 2

25

20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Days

Type 0914

Thiothrix II

N. limicola II

Temperature

Filament Abundance

40

Temperature, C

Figure 12. Study 2:


Effluent TSS vs. Time at 40-45C
50 1600

45

1400

40 1200 35

Temperature, C

30

1000

25

800

20

600

15 400 10 200

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

Effluent TSS

Temperature

Effluent TSS, mg/L

Figure 13. Study 2:


Dispersed Single Bacteria vs. Time at 40-45C
50 7

45 6 40 5

35

30 4 25 3 20

15

10 1 5

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

Dispersed Bacteria

Temperature

Dispersed Bacteria

Temperature, C

Figure 14. Study 2:


Dispersed Filaments vs. Time at 40-45C
50 45 6 40 35 5 7

30 4 25 3 20 15 10 1 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days) 0

Dispersed Filaments

Temperature

Dispersed Filaments

Temperature, C

Figure 15. Study 2:


Floc Size vs. Time at 40-45C
50 2000

45

1800

40

1600

35

1400

Temperature, C

25

1000

20

800

15

600

10

400

200

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

Floc Size

Temperature

Floc Size, um

30

1200

Figure 16. Study 2:


Zooglea and HLF vs. Time at 40-45C
50 7

45

5 40

4 35 3 30 2

25

20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

Zooglea

HLF

Temperature

Zooglea and HLF Abundance

Temperature, C

Figure 17. Study 2:


COD Removal % vs. Time at 40-45C
50 90

45

80

40

70

35 60 30 50 25 40 20 30 15 20

10

10

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

COD Removal %

Temperature

COD Removal %

Temperature, C

Figure 18. Study 2:


Effluent COD vs. Time at 40-45C
50 1800

45

1600

40

1400

35

30 1000 25 800 20 600 15 400

10

200

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Time (days)

Effluent COD

Temperature

Effluent COD, mg/L

1200

Temperature, C