In the last decade Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) production is growing. The wastewater of the “Catalana de Polimers” factory in Barcelona (Spain) has two main streams of similar flow rate, esterification (COD=30,000 mg/l) and textile (COD=4000 mg/l). In order to assess the anaerobic treatment viability, discontinuous and continuous experiments were carried out. Discontinuous biodegradability tests indicated that anaerobic biodegradability was 90 and 75% for esterification and textile wastewater. The textile stream revealed some tendency to foam formation and inhibitory effects. Nutrients, micronutrients and alkali limitations and dosage were determined.
A continuous lab-scale UASB reactor was able to treat a mixture of 50% (v) esterification/textile wastewater with stable behaviour at organic loading rate larger than 12 g COD/l.d (0.3 g COD/g VSS.d) with COD removal efficiency greater than 90%. The start-up period was very short and the recuperation after overloading accidents was quite fast, in spite of the wash-out of solids. From the laboratory information an industrial treatment plant was designed and built, during the start-up period COD removal efficiencies larger than 90% and organic loading rate of 0.6 kg COD/kg VSS.d (5 kg COD/m3.d) have been reached.