As part of an extensive audit of the Alkaline-Peroxide Mechanical Pulping (APMPTM) plant at the Malette Quebec Inc. mill in St. Raymond, Que., effluents were sampled from various stages of the process for comprehensive chemical characterizations, aquatic toxicity testing and anaerobic biotreatability assessments. In addition, untreated and secondary treated combined effluent from the integrated paper mill were sampled to determine the effectiveness of a conventional activated sludge process at the mill site. During the one-day sampling period, the APMP plant processed a mixed wood furnish consisting of 50% spruce/balsam fir and 50% aspen, with a chemical charge of 3.5% sodium hydroxide and 3.8% hydrogen peroxide on oven-dry fibre, while the Machine Finish Coated (MFC) paper production rate was 100 odt/d (oven dry metric tonnes per day).
Measured production-specific contaminant discharge loadings from the novel APMP process were 56 kg BOD5/odt and 155 kg COD/odt in a combined effluent flow of 28 m3/odt. Sources of process effluent were chip washing, three stages of wood chip pretreatment and chemical impregnation (i.e., Impressafiner stages), interstate washing and pulp cleaning. The three Impressafiner pressates were found to be the most concentrated (i.e., 12-26 g COD/L) and toxic streams. Microtox testing of the pressates revealed EC50 concentrations of 0.07-0.34% v/v. The warm and concentrated effluents generated by the non-sulphur APMP process were found to be highly amenable to anaerobic degradation as determined by batch bioassay testing. Filterable BOD5 and COD(f) of the process effluents were reduced by 87-95% and 70-77%, respectively, with corresponding theoretical methane yields being attained. Acid-soluble dissolved lignin compounds exhibited biorecalcitrance, as revealed by limited removals of 34-55%, and were the main constituents contributing to residual COD(f), while resin and fatty acids (RFA) were reduced by 80-94%. The conservatively operated full scale activated sludge treatment process achieved a similar high 74% COD(f) removal from the whole mill effluent, while BOD5 and RFA reductions were virtually complete and the treated effluent was non-toxic, as measured by Microtox.