2003 Environmental Technology Business Forum

Modified Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed(UASB)Technology
Pollution Abatement Technology Department Center for Environmental, Safety and Health Technology Development Industrial Technology Research Institute Hsinchu, Taiwan

The modified Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) technique developed by Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has been applied to industrial wastewater treatment in Taiwan for more than 17 years. Twenty five full scale treatment plants and more than fifty modified UASB reactors have been installed for industrial wastewater purification including food processing, brewery, distillery, pulp and paper, textile, chemical and petrochemical industries.

Sludge Blanket Zone

Biogas Gas/ Liquid/ Solid Separator Effluent

Overflow Weir

Sludge Bed Zone Distributor


Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the modified UASB reactor UASB process is the most widely used process in anaerobic wastewater treatment. High concentration wastewater is introduced into the button of modified UASB reactor through the inflow distributor. The wastewater passes upwards through anaerobic sludge bed where the microorganisms contact with wastewater substrates. The sludge bed is composed of microorganisms that naturally form granules (pellets) of 0.5 to 2 mm in diameter that have a high sedimentation velocity and thus resist wash-out from the system even at high hydraulic loads. Upward flow speed is controlled under 10 m/d with recirculated effluent and inflow wastewater. The upward motion of released gas bubbles causes hydraulic turbulence that provides reactor mixing without any mechanical agitation. At the top of the reactor, the water phase is separated from sludge solids and gas in a three-phase separator.

2003 Environmental Technology Business Forum

Purified water is discharged in the effluent while biogas is collected at the top of the reactor and sludge solids settle back down to the reactor. A schematic diagram of the modified UASB reactor is shown above.

Process Description
The key parts in designing the modified UASB reactor are a three-phase separator on the top of reactor and inflow distributors on the bottom of reactor. ITRI has acquired two patents for the three-phase separator and inflow distributor. To separate gas/liquid/solids successfully, several factors, including air-lift, fluid turbulent, inertia force, and specific gravity difference must work properly. The patented three-phase separator installed several parallel plates and inclined tubes to enhance gas/liquid/solids separation efficiency. The structure of the separator is simple and can be installed as a module. Thus, the cost is lower than other separators. The modified inflow distributor improves uneven inflow distribution and reduces clogging problems. In addition to the modified UASB reactor, there are also improvements in the treatability assessment, sludge granules seeding, system startup, and operation strategy for this technology. The whole package of the technology offers a complete solution to wastewater treatment by the UASB process. The key parts in designing the modified UASB reactor are summarized in Table 1. Table 1. Key parts in designing the modified UASB reactor Item Reactor design 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Descriptions Reactor volume, height, and configuration Three-phase separator Inflow distributor Reactor seeding and start-up Anaerobic sludge acclimation and growth pH (alkalinity) control Loading control Control of inhibitor in wastewater

Operation and control

Table 2 lists the COD loading rate and removal percentage for various anaerobic processes. Compared to the other anaerobic treatment processes, UASB has a higher COD loading rate and COD removal percentage. Table 2. Comparison of various types of anaerobic treatment technologies Reactor Types Anaerobic contact digester Upflow anaerobic filter Downflow anaerobic filter Anaerobic fluidized bed UASB 1-6 1-10 5-15 1-20 5-30 COD loading (kg/m3-d) COD removal percentage (%) 80-95 80-95 80-87 75-88 85-95

The main UASB technology licensors in the world are Gist Brocades, Paques, Biotim, and ITRI. The history of developing UASB in ITRI is shorter than Gist Brocades, but longer

2003 Environmental Technology Business Forum

than Paques and Biotim. Currently, ITRI has the capability to design the UASBs with single reactor volume of 3,500 m3. The basic theory of UASBs are the same, However, ITRI offers more economic choice than other competitors based on higher efficient design. Full-scale engineering practices showed that ITRI’s modified UASB reactor is highly efficient and reliable in long time operation. It is also cost competitive in construction and operation. The features of the modified UASB reactor can be summarized as follows: 1. High volumetric loading, VLR>5 kg COD/m3-day 2. Small footprints, low land cost. 3. Low sludge yield, sludge production rate < 0.1 kg SS/kg COD 4. No oxygen supply equipment required, more energy efficient 5. Can afford higher rage of organic loading. 6. Stable in changes of hydraulic loading.

Industrial Applications
UASB technology was commonly applied to industrial wastewater of the breweries and beverage industry, distilleries and fermentation industry, food industry, and pulp and paper industry. Together, these four industrial sectors account for 87% of the UASB applications in the world for the last two decades. ITRI successfully applied the modified UASB technology to textile and petrochemical industry wastewater treatment, especially with polyester, nylon, and polyvinyl alcohol as major wastewater components. ITRI has installed 11 modified UASB systems for petrochemical and textile wastewater treatment in Taiwan since 1988. The largest unit installed so far was a 3500 m3 UASB reactor treating 4,000 m3/day of textile wastewater. A photograph of the modified UASB reactor design by ITRI is shown in Figure 2. Table 3 lists the full-scale modified UASB applications installed by ITRI since 1988.

Figure 2. Photograph of the modified UASB reactor of ITRI


2003 Environmental Technology Business Forum

Table 3. Modified UASB applications installed by ITRI
Factory name
Asia Chemical Co. Kwang Cheng Co. 6 Wine plants Hualon Co./Toufen head plant Hualon Co. / Toufen Ⅱ plant Chang Chun Petrochemical Co./Miaoli plant Unit I Yilan Wine plant, ( total 7 plants) Hualon Co. / Toufen Ⅲ plant Far Eastern Textile Co. TransAsia airways Hualien distillery Hualon Malaysia Co. Unit I Hualon Malaysia Co. Unit II Dahin Co./Chuan Hsing plant President Enterprises Co. / Hsinshih plant Unit I Taiwan petrochemical Co Dahin Co./Hsiensie plant President Enterprises Co. / Hsinshih plant Unit II Der-Yien Paper Industry Chang Chun Petrochemical Co./Miaoli plant Unit II Kinmon distillery Toppoly ChiMei F&NCC (Malaysia) SafViet (Vietnam)

Date of installation
1988 1991 1992 1992 1993

Reactor Size (m3)
1,000 80 2,200 450×2 500×2

Type of Wastewater
Chemical processing Chemical processing Fermentation and distillation process Textile industry Textile industry

Qw.w. (CMD)
400 80 60-1,000 800 1,000

COD-in (mg/l)
9,000 8,000 4,000-30,000 5,000 5,000

CODr (%)
98 95 90 90 90



Petrochemical industry Fermentation and distillation process Textile industry Textile industry Food processing Distillation process Textile industry Textile industry Chemical processing Food processing Chemical processing Chemical processing Food processing Pulp and paper




1994 1994 1994 1995 1995 1995 1996 1996 1997 1999 1999 2002 2002

600+240 600×2 3,300 135 1,300 600×2 600×2 500 1,680 800 900 900 x 2 900 x2

200 1,200 4,000 250 1,300 1,200 1,200 200 4,000 124 400 4,000 3,600

30,000 5,000 2,500 2,000 10,000 5,000 5,000 8,000 2,500 12,000 8,000 2,500 7,000

90 90 ≧65 ≧70 90 90 90 ≧70 90 80 80 90 80 ≧70



Petrochemical industry



2003 2004 2005 2006 2006

1,000 1760 400 405 2850

Distillation process TFT-LCD TFT-LCD Food processing Yeast production

650 1400 650 550 960

6,000 8000 1600 5000 14000

90 70 70 80 70

The following plant retrofit projects were examples of modified UASB technology applied to distillation, petrochemical and textile wastewater treatment.


2003 Environmental Technology Business Forum

Table 4. Examples of ITRI’s modified UASB technology applied to distillery, petrochemical and textile industry. Technical aspect Hualien distillery • Combined modified UASB with fixed film aerobic treatment and Fenton chemical oxidation in treatment process. Wastewater with COD over 10,000 mg/l was treated to under 100 mg/l. Economical benefits

Chang Chun • Petrochemical Co./Miaoli plant Unit I •

Hualon Texitle • Co. / Toufen Ⅲ plant •

Compare to existing aerobic treatment process: • Small footprints, over 1,500m2 land requirement are saved. • Save 50% of capital cost in reactor construction. A total 100 million NT of construction cost was saved. • Save operation cost in power requirement and waste sludge processing by 10 million NT per year. Compare to conventional activated Achieve 75% of COD sludge process: removal rate under 4.5 kg 3 • Save land requirement by 600 m2 COD/m -day of organic loading and 24 hours of • Reduce 35 million NT of reactor hydraulic retention time. construction cost. Design and construct two • Save over 10 million NT of UASB reactors with 12 meter operation cost annually in (in diameter) by 12 meter electricity and sludge processing (height) and a total volume of 1350 cubic meter. Achieve over 90% of COD Compare to conventional activated sludge process: removal efficiency under • Reduce 30% of construction cost. organic loading of 5 kg Save 30 million NT in capital cost. COD/m3.day. Treat textile wastewater with • Save over 10 million NT of operation cost annually in ethylene glycol and aldehydes electricity and sludge processing. average loading 6000 kg per day. • Reduce land requirement by 50%.

ITRI is one of the four UASB licensors in the world (they are Gist Brocades, Paques, Biotim, and ITRI)that can license and transfer UASB technology to other companies. ITRI has well developed know–how in UASB process and equipment design for different kinds of industrial wastewater. With 17 years of technology development experience and over 25 successful plant retrofit projects, ITRI illustrates its superior in technical consulting and engineering design in industrial wastewater treatment. Consulting service including wastewater treatability evaluation, sludge granules seeding, UASB system start-up, microorganism inhibition prevention and mitigation are provided under customer requisition.


2003 Environmental Technology Business Forum

Horng R.-Y., Wu H.-S., Tzou W.-Y. and Perng M.-J. (2001), A Reduction of Biosolids: A Case Study of Integrated Anaerobic Process, 9th World Congress on Anaerobic Digestion, Antwerpen, Belgium, 169-171. Horng R.-Y., Shao H., You H.-S., Liu Y.-C., Tzou W.-Y., Chen C.-H., Wu H.-S. and Cheng S.-S. (1998), An Integrated Process to Abate Sludge yield and Promote Sludge Granular in An Anaerobic Process, 8th International Conference on Anaerobic Digestion, 216-223. Horng R.-Y. Shao H., You H.-S., Liu Y.-C., Tzou W.-Y., Chen C.-H., Wu H.-S. and Perng M.-J.(1996), A Case Study of A brewery Factory Wastewater Treatment by Anaerobic /Aerobic and Fenton Process, WEFTEC ’96, 69th Annual Conference & Exposition , Dallas, Texas, USA, 531-538.


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