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Coagulation and Precipitation as Post-Treatment of Anaerobically Treated Primary Municipal Wastewater

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The main objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of coagulation as a post-treatment method of anaerobically treated primary municipal wastewater. Both mesophilic and ambient (20°C) temperature conditions were investigated in a laboratory-scale upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactor. In addition, optimization of the coagulant, both in terms of type and dose, was performed. Finally, phosphorus removal by means of aluminum and iron coagulation and phosphorus and ammonia nitrogen removal by means of struvite precipitation were studied. Anaerobic treatment of primary effluent at low hydraulic retention times (less than 15 hours) resulted in mean chemical oxygen demand (COD) removals ranging from 50 to 70%, while, based on the filtered treated effluent, the mean removals increased to 65 to 80%. Alum coagulation of the UASB effluent gave suspended solids removals ranging from approximately 35 to 65%. Turbidity removal reached up to 80%. Remaining COD values after coagulation and settling were below 100 mg/L, while remaining total organic carbon (TOC) levels were below 50 mg/L. Filterable COD levels were generally below 60 mg/L, while filterable TOC levels were below 40 mg/L. All coagulants tested, including prepolymerized aluminum and iron coagulants, demonstrated similar efficiency compared with alum for the removal of suspended solids, COD, and TOC. Regarding struvite precipitation, optimal conditions for phosphorus and nitrogen removal were pH 10 and molar ratio of magnesium: ammonia-nitrogen: phosphate-phosphorus close to the stoichiometric ratio (1:1:1). During struvite precipitation, removal of suspended solids reached 40%, while turbidity removal reached values up to 80%. The removal of COD was approximately 30 to 35%; yet, when removal of organic matter was based on the treated filterable COD, the removal increased to approximately 65%. In addition, nitrogen was removed by approximately 70%, while phosphorus removal ranged between approximately 30 and 45% on the basis of the initial phosphorus concentration. Finally, size fractionation of the organic matter (COD) showed that the various treatment methods were capable of removing different fractions of the organic matter.

Keywords: anaerobic treatment of municipal wastewater; coagulation; precipitation; struvite precipitation; upflow anaerobic sludge bed

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2007

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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