A technological model for low energy domestic wastewater treatment

  • Umar Abubakar

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study evaluated the potential for efficient treatment of domestic wastewater, while satisfying energy efficiency requirements. Various treatment systems and the influences of their physical configurations and operational characteristics on wastewater treatment and energy efficiency were initially considered and evaluated. Review of literature identified high rate anaerobic systems as viable low energy systems for domestic wastewater treatment, with reported high removal of influent chemical oxygen demand (COD) and high net energy balance for the anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR). Low energy recovery is reported in literature as a limitation of anaerobic domestic wastewater treatment, and anaerobic domestic wastewater treatment systems have failed to meet effluent discharge standards, and post-treatment using aerobic processes have been recommended in order to ensure high effluent quality. Therefore, the ABR was selected as a feasible option that can be developed as the first stage of an anaerobic-aerobic low energy domestic wastewater treatment system. The literature review also identified the net energy consumption per cubic metre (m3) of treated wastewater during the treatment process as an energy efficiency evaluation criterion.Energy efficiency for domestic wastewater treatment facilities should be achieved if efficient treatment performance can be sustained at ambient temperature, instead of the fixed mesophilic temperature that is commonly adopted in anaerobic treatment processes. To identify an energy efficient design of the ABR in terms of hydraulic retention time and operational temperature, the performance efficiencies of ABR bench models were monitored at ambient temperature and 37oC at hydraulic retention times (HRT) of 48, 36, 24, 12 and 6 hours, which corresponded to organic loading rates (OLR) of 1.25, 1.67, 2.5, 5.0 and 10.0 kg COD/m3 day. 88.43, 90.00, 84.03, 77.01 and 59.35% of the influent COD (mean = 2479.50 mg/L) were removed at 48, 36, 24, 12 and 6 hour HRTs, respectively, in the 37oC bench reactor, while 70.16, 70.36 and 74.99% of the influent COD were removed at 48, 36 and 24 hour HRTs, respectively, in the ambient temperature bench reactor. Steady state performance, in the form of stable pH values, was not observed in the ambient temperature reactor at 12 hours HRT before the end of the bench experiments. Retention of influent total solids was observed to correlate to hydraulic retention time, with increase retention of total solids corresponding to increase in hydraulic retention time. Furthermore, observed total solids retention in the ambient temperature reactor were less than the total solids retention in the 37oC reactor.Anaerobic reduction of domestic wastewater sludge and the corresponding methane production were also evaluated using bio-chemical methane potential (BMP) batch assays at ambient temperature and compared to a fixed mesophilic temperature of 37oC. Low reduction of volatile solids was observed in the BMP assays, with 40% at ambient temperature compared to 56% at 37oC for primary sludge, and 22% at ambient temperature compared to 38% at 37oC for secondary sludge. Critical limitations of the anaerobic stage at ambient temperature were determined to be the biological reduction and conversion of the organic contaminants to soluble COD and volatile fatty acids (VFA). Also, achieving and maintaining steady state performance required a longer time period at ambient temperature than at 37oC, potentially due to the slow growth of the anaerobic microorganisms at ambient temperature. These limitations indicate the need for long (≥ 24 hours) retention periods for efficient operation at ambient temperature. The ABR bench models were evaluated for energy efficiency with the identified energy efficiency criteria, and the operational condition with the highest energy efficiency was determined to be 12 hours HRT at 37oC. Finally, design criteria for the anaerobic stage of the anaerobic-aerobic system were proproposed, along with a process model as a preliminary step for future process research.
    Date of AwardNov 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Abertay University
    SponsorsPetroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) & Ahmadu Bello University
    SupervisorJoseph Akunna (Supervisor)

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