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uk/Publications/2005/04/2994932/49358 WWT PROCESS OVERVIEW The layout of a particular sewage treatment process will be wholly dependent upon the type of influent to the works, the location, the size and quality of receiving water. However, the following schematic in Figure 1 is a process flow sheet that covers the principal processes undertaken. There are three principal functions of a waste water treatment plant:Removal of pollutants, (mainly toxic material) and retention of re-usable material Treatment of water to permit safe re-use Treatment and disposal of the sludge. The steps of a sewage treatment process are often divided into primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary treatment is largely a mechanical process to separate solids, secondary treatment is a largely biological process whilst tertiary treatment is polishing step for further purification possibly for specific contaminants. The main aim of treatment is to reduce biochemical oxygen demand ( BOD) and

suspended solids ( SS) to acceptable levels. This is achieved by removing solids, and by aeration to satisfy the oxygen demand of the waste water, there being various methods of undertaking this operation. The removal of the solids and reduction of BOD produces sludge that can be recovered for beneficial land use after further treatment or sent for disposal.

5.2 Preliminary Treatment Waste water entering the inlet works is usually screened to remove plastics, paper, cloth and other large debris. During periods of high flow the influent may be diverted to storm water tanks and this may occur before or after screening. Any influent diverted to storm water tanks will be processed as soon as flows return to normal. Effective management of storm water tanks is a key area in the reduction of odour. Screened solids are usually landfilled or incinerated. Sand and similar heavy particles are removed next in a grit chamber. This chamber can be aerated to separate these particles from other suspended solids. The waste water spends a relatively short period in the grit chamber (in the order of minutes). The sedimented sand and grit is usually landfilled.

5.3 Primary Treatment The finer solids are then removed in a settling or sedimentation tank, where the waste water spends a number of hours to allow the solids to settle or float and the sludge produced is scraped along the base of the tank for desludging. At this stage up to 70% of the solids and 30% of the BOD can be removed. The mechanical removal of solids as described above is usually called 'primary treatment', the sedimentation tank as the primary sedimentation tank, the overflow from the sedimentation tank as primary-treated waste water (primary effluent) and the sludge produced as primary sludge.


5.4 Secondary Treatment The activated sludge process is the most widely used biological process for waste water treatment at large and medium-sized works. The activated sludge in the aeration tank consists of flocs of bacteria, which consume the biodegradable organic substances in the waste water. This sludge is kept in the process by separation from the treated waste water and re-circulation. The primary-treated waste water is passed to an aeration tank. Aeration provides oxygen to the activated sludge and at the same time thoroughly mixes the sludge and the waste water. Aeration is by either bubbling air through diffusers at the bottom of the aeration tank, or by mechanically agitating the surface of the water. In the aeration tank, the bacteria in the activated sludge consume the organic substances in the waste water. The organic substances are utilised by the bacteria for energy, growth and reproduction. After the aeration stage the waste water enters a second sedimentation tank to separate the activated sludge from the treated waste water. The activated sludge is returned to the aeration tank. There is an increase in the amount of activated sludge because of growth and reproduction of the bacteria. The excess sludge is removed to maintain a desired amount of sludge in the system. This part of the treatment process is called 'secondary treatment', the sedimentation tank as secondary sedimentation tank, the overflow from the sedimentation tank as secondary-treated waste water (secondary effluent) and the excess activated sludge as secondary sludge. This sludge is usually returned to the incoming sewage flow entering the sedimentation tank and is then co-settled with primary solids to form co-settled sludge. At some works excess activated sludge may be kept separate for initial dewatering. Depending on the flow rate of waste water, several parallel trains of primary and secondary stages can be employed. There are several ways to operate an activated sludge process. In a 'high rate' process a relatively high volume of waste water is treated per unit volume of activated sludge. The high amount of organic waste consumed by the activated sludge produces a high amount of excess sludge that may rapidly decompose and become highly odorous if not treated. In an 'extended aeration' mode of operation the opposite condition takes place. A relatively low amount of organic waste is treated per unit volume of sludge with little excess sludge to be removed. Removal of BOD is higher in the extended aeration mode compared to the high rate mode, but more waste water can be treated with the latter mode. The excess sludge from extended aeration is usually biologically stabilised and not as likely as high rate sludge to decompose and produce significant odour. An activated sludge treatment process can be operated in batches rather than continuously. One tank is allowed to fill with waste water. It is then aerated to satisfy the oxygen demand of the waste water, following which the activated sludge is allowed to settle. The treated waste water is then decanted, and the tank is filled with a new batch of waste water. At least two tanks are needed for the batch mode of operation, constituting what is called a 'sequential batch reactor ( SBR)'. SBRs are suited to smaller flows,

because the size of each tank is determined by the volume of waste water produced during the treatment period in the other tank.

The alternative to the activated sludge process is the use of a percolating trickling filter that is a method of secondary treatment widely used at small WWTW. This is a bed of solid media for bacteria to attach on its surfaces. Waste water is irrigated over a bed of graded mineral materialon the solid media (stones, waste coal, and gravel) or specially manufactured plastic media. As waste water trickles over the surfaces of the solid media organic substances are trapped in the layer of bacterial slime. The bacteria consume the organic substances in the same manner as in the activated sludge process, while air diffuses into the slime layer from the air spaces in the bed of the trickling filter. Growth and reproduction of the bacteria take place and result in an increase of thickness of the slime layer, particularly at the top of the biological filter. Periodically bacterial slime sloughs off the surfaces of the filter media and leaves with the treated waste water. Solids derived from the sloughing off of bacterial slime are separated from the treated waste water in a sedimentation tank (often termed a humus tank). Sludge from this sedimentation tank is not returned to the trickling filter but is usually returned to the inlet sewage flow for co-settlement with the primary sludge for treatment and disposal as a co-settled sludge. The trickling filter and associated sedimentation tank is also termed 'secondary treatment'.

5.5 Sludge Processing One of the key operations is the final treatment of the excess sludges produced in the process. The purpose of the sludge process is to reduce the liquid content of the sludge and volume to minimise downstream costs and stabilise the sludge to allow safe beneficial use for land conditioning or alternate disposal methods. The stabilisation process minimises the potential for odour generation and also destroys the pathogens. The main processing stages are as follows (these may be used singly or in any combination):a) The first stage will involve thickening to reduce sludge volume by 50 - 70%. This is carried out either by gravitational thickening in tanks or by mechanical means using centrifuges or belt-thickeners. Mechanical thickening requires the addition of a polymer conditioner to the sludge. b) The thickened sludge is then stabilised by either biological or chemical means. c) The two main biological methods are:-

Mesophilic anaerobic digestion at approximately 35 oC. Anaerobic digestion of sludge has four main stages. In the first phase protein, carbohydrates and fats are broken down by hydrolysis to form amino acids, sugar, glycerine and fatty acids. In the second phase acid fermentation occurs producing some fatty acids and alcohols. In the third stage acetogenic bacteria covert organic acids into a mixture of propionic and acetic acids plus hydrogen gas. In the final stage methanogenic bacteria convert the hydrogen and carbon dioxide to methane. The key characteristics of anaerobic digestion are:

Solids can be reduced by up to 50% The high ammonia content of digested sludge is suitable as a fertiliser due to the readily available nitrogen Pathogens are substantially reduced Sludge is less offensive in odour and appearance The gas produced (digestor gas) is a useful fuel and can be used to heat the digestor and also to generate electricity often through Combined Heat and Power ( CHP) systems (municipal waste water sludge can produce approximately 500m 3 of gas per tonne of dry volatile solids). Thermophilic anaerobic digestion (although this technique is not currently applied in Scotland) d) Chemical stabilisation is relatively straightforward and is quite often used at smaller waste water treatment Works. The stabilisation is achieved by the addition of lime (or other alkaline materials) to raise the pH of the sludge to inhibit the growth of micro organisms (typically to pH 12 for 2 hours). In order to meet the pathogen removal required for re-use the material is usually held above 55 oC for a period of time.

e) Mechanical Dewatering to produce a solid cake of 25 - 50% solids. Dewatering may be achieved by filter pressing, centrifugation or belt-pressing and it always requires the preliminary conditioning of sludge with polymers. Sludge cake may be used in agriculture, disposed of to land or used to feed a thermal dryer.

f) Thermal drying to minimise volume is the ultimate stage of sludge processing and is carried out by various types of heated drying systems. The final water content of the product is less than 10% and the overall volume reduction compared to the original liquid raw sludge volume can be greater than 99%.

The Elmhurst Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has the capacity to fully treat 20 million gallons of wastewater per day (mgd) and can give primary treatment to an additional 40 mgd of wastewater, if necessary, during excess flow conditions. The Wastewater Treatment Plant had a record high flow of over 74 million gallons in one day in February, 1997. An average day's flow of raw sewage entering the Elmhurst WWTP results in approximately 6,540 pounds of dry solids after concentration of suspended solids has been performed. The Elmhurst WWTP has the capability of providing grit removal, primary treatment, extended aeration, final clarification, and disinfection of wastewater. This treatment is accomplished by the movement of the sewage through a series of treatment tanks. You'll notice that most of the equipment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant is provided with an equal back-up. There are more raw sewage pumps than are necessary as well as grit removal equipment and sludge, pumps, etc. Illinois EPA design criteria require that there be this redundancy to ensure reliable operation of the Wastewater Plant in the event of the largest treatment unit being out of service.

Preliminary Treatment
The sewage is first pumped using three enclosed screw raw sewage pumps which provide a means of lifting the incoming sewage from the sewer system.

Preliminary Screens: The sewage then passes through the bar screens for rag removal. In this section, two automatic bar screen cleaners remove large solids (rags, plastics, etc.) from the raw sewage. The collected material is placed in dumpsters to be taken later to the landfill. The action of the bar screen equipment is paced according to the amount of incoming solids and the flow rate.

Grit Tanks: Next, the sewage moves to the grit tanks. These tanks reduce the velocity of the sewage so that heavy particles may fall to the bottom. The solids are pumped to an auger pump which separates the water from the grit while the water moves onward. The grit (mostly inorganic solids) goes to a dumpster which is taken to a landfill. There are two complete grit removal systems which are rotated in operation for equal hours.

Primary Clarifiers
Next, the sewage is directed to one of four primary clarifiers (primary settling tanks). The primary clarifiers remove the larger suspended solids and floating material from the degritted waste water prior to discharge to the aeration tanks. This significantly reduces the load on the aerators and increases efficiency. The clarifiers can effectively remove 50 to 60 percent of the suspended solids and 25 to 40 percent of the BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) from the waste water.

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Secondary Treatment - Aeration Tanks

After leaving the primary clarifiers, the sewage goes to any one of ten aeration tanks. Elmhurst uses a system of sewage treatment called activated sludge. The aeration tanks provide a location where biological treatment of the waste water takes place. In these tanks, microorganisms and waste water in various stages of decomposition are mixed, aerated, and maintained in suspension. The contents of the aeration tanks, which require a delicate balance of food and oxygen, are commonly referred to as the mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) or activated sludge. The activated sludge converts organic substances into oxidized products and a settleable floc which is settled out in the secondary clarifiers. The aeration tanks have a great deal of flexibility built into them. Raw sewage can be introduced in various locations and be aerated and mixed for varying lengths of time and intensity.

Carbon Cycle - Metabolism Reaction Bacterial Decomposition of Organic Waster

Metabolism occurs in animals, humans, and in this caseBacteria, after the ingestion of organic plant or animal foods. Organic materials contain at least carbon and hydrogen and may include oxygen. In the cells a series of complex reactions occurs with oxygen to convert for example glucose sugar into the products of carbon dioxide and water and ENERGY. This reaction is also carried out by bacteria in the decomposition/decay of organic waste materials in the water. The bacterial decay of organic matter occurs naturally to a limited extent in lakes, ponds, and streams. This natural process is designed to decompose dead or decaying plant and animal life naturally present in the water. The amount of organic matter present in water is measured indirectly by by BOD. BOD, Biological Oxygen Demand, measures the oxygen needed by bacteria to metabolize the organic matter during a 5 day period of time. A high BOD level means that there is a high level of organic waste present. In a natural water system the amount of dissolved oxygen in water is limited by solubility and the temperature of the water. A maximum of 10 -12 ppm dissolved oxygen may present in natural water. If municipal sewage waste is not treated but directly discharged into a stream, the BOD or organic waste level is very high and quickly overwhelms the capacity of the natural bacteria and the available oxygen to decompose the waste. At the sewage treatment plant, the activated sludge process is designed to use natural bacteria in a holding tank with the organic waste that is aerated with air (oxygen) until the organic waste is completely decomposed.The water with a low organic level or low BOD can now be safely discharged to a nearby stream. An important summary statement is that during combustion/metabolism of organic waste, oxygen isused and carbon dioxide is a product. The whole purpose of the process is to decompose and breakdown organic waste into carbon dioxide, a gas emitted to the atmosphere, and unreacted solids which may be removed by settling and filtration.

Sludge Treatment Now, let's backtrack a little and see what happens to the solids which have been settled out of the liquid sewage. The settled solids, from the primary clarifiers, are pumped to the digesters where the solids are stabilized.

Activated sludge solids from the secondary clarifiers which are not returned to the aerators are wasted. The DAF (Dissolved Air Flotation) thickener tanks receive the wasted solids. Solids enter the DAF tank where they are mixed with water and compressed air. As the air and water mix, solid particles are lifted to the surface by rising air bubbles in the tank. The floating solids are then collected by a series of tank skimmers while the water is recycled back to the raw sewer to be processed through the plant. The solids from the DAF are pumped to the anaerobic digesters. The City of Elmhurst is modifying its anaerobic digester design to separate the two phases of anaerobic digestion. New acid faced tanks have been installed on the east side of the existing north digester. These tanks will hold the raw and waste activated sludge for a short period of time, oftentimes less than 24 hours. The separation of these two processes will allow the different groups of bacteria that carry out the anaerobic digestion to perform in an optimum environment for each group. The acid producing bacteria will have their individual stage and the gas producing bacteria will have theirs. Experience has shown at other wastewater plants around the country that when these two processes are separated, the quality of the digestion is improved and the production methane gas is increased. The anaerobic digestion process will dissolve the solids to their basic components. In the anaerobic digesters another group of bacteria begin to digest and dissolve the solids to their basic components. This process uses bacteria which do not need atmospheric oxygen to

survive, so therefore, no air is bubbled into the tanks. In fact, air mixed with the gasses may be explosive, so we strive to keep all air out. The anaerobic digesters produce a stable sludge which is readily dewatered. The process is also a source of methane gas, which is used as a fuel source for heating the digesters, heating several buildings, and fueling the engine generator to produce electricity. The digester is kept at an optimum temperature of between 90-95 degrees F. About 40,000 cubic feet of methane gas is produced per day.

Sludge Dewatering and Drying:

The engine generator runs on digester or natural gas. The generator supplies electrical power to essential pieces of treatment plant equipment. In the event of a complete power outage, important equipment will be powered by the engine generator. Waste heat is used to help heat surrounding buildings. After most of the organic solids have been digested, the sludge is pumped to sand drying beds or to the belt filter presses. The belt filter presses use a chemical flocculent to separate the water from the solids. The dewatered solids are then squeezed between two belts to further dewater them. The resulting solids are in the range of 18-20 percent solids. These solids are applied to agricultural land. The solids can also be taken to a landfill. The sludge drying beds also provide a means of drying the sludge treated by the anaerobic digesters. As an alternative, the digested

sludge may be pumped to the truck loading station to be hauled to other locations for drying or for use as fertilizer. Sludge is a good soil conditioner as well as fertilizer. Elmhurst sludge has been approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for application on agricultural soils. It has very low concentrations of elements which by be toxic to the soil or plants. Dewatered sludge is stored on a sludge storage pad located south of the plant until there is a quantity great enough to take to local farms.

Secondary/Final Clarifier Tanks: After leaving the aeration tanks, the now treated sewage, along with the bacteria, enter the secondary clarifiers. The plant has a total of six secondary clarifiers. These tanks provide a location where the activated sludge solids can be separated from the liquid in the mixed liquor coming from the aeration tanks.

Click for larger image Chlorination Tanks: The clear overflow in the final settling tank now goes to the chlorine contact tanks (three tanks), for disinfection and a final polishing to remove any solids still present. The chlorination system is used to provide disinfection of the plant effluent before final discharge to the receiving stream (Salt Creek). Disinfection reduces the number of harmful, pathogenic (disease causing) organisms that may be in the final effluent. After chlorination a process of dechlorination takes place. Chlorine is a toxic material and has been shown to be harmful, even in low dosages, to the

stream flora and fauna. In response to this, Illinois is requiring all wastewater plants who use chlorine to disinfect to remove that chlorine. Elmhurst is using a chemical compound called sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide neutralizes the chlorine so it is not toxic to the stream.

Click for larger image Final Water Stats: After all processing has been completed, the final effluent will contain approximately 3-5 mg/L of solids, or about 250 pounds of dry solids in eight million gallons of water. This is about a 97 percent reduction in total solids. In addition, the incoming raw sewage will contain approximately 50,000 to 100,000 fecal coliform bacteria, (an indicator of pathogenic organisms), per milliliter (approximately 10 drops). The final effluent averages approximately two fecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml. (four ounces). This is better than a 99.999 percent reduction in bacteria.