Vinasse, the liquid residue from sugar cane alcohol distillation, is a major industrial pollutant in developing countries. The use of ethanol as an alternative automotive fuel in Brazil led to the construction of large number of stabilization ponds for the treatment of this material prior to river disposal. But, because of the infiltration of this high BOD residue into the groundwater, the water for human consumption has been highly contaminated. The objective of this work is to study a Brazilian clay which can be used both as an impermeable layer and also adsorb the organic components of vinasse. The results show that both the organic components of vinasse and the vinasse itself are adsorbed by the tetramethy1ammonium (TMA) derivative of a Brazilian sodium bentonite. Similar experiments performed with Wyoming bentonite show that the Brazilian clay is less effective than the American one because of its lower content of the clay mineral smectite. A computer simulation shows that the clay liners do not have to be replaced before one year of operation. This is very convenient because the alcohol industry works for 8 months approximately. Therefore when the distillery is not in operation the clay liner can be replaced.

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