This paper reports the results of an investigation aimed at evaluating the laboratory-scale performance of an innovative process for treating tannery wastewater. In this process, biological degradation, carried out in a sequencing batch biofilm reactor (SBBR), is combined with chemical oxidation by ozone. Tannery wastewater treatment was carried out, at laboratory scale, on a real primary effluent coming from a centralised plant treating wastewater produced by a large tannery district in Northern Italy. SBBR performance both without and with ozonation, was assessed with very satisfactory results. In particular, in the latter instance the recorded COD, TKN and TSS average removals, (96%), (92%) and (98%) respectively, allowed the maximum allowable concentration values fixed by the Italian regulation in force to be achieved without any additional polishing step. During the investigation biofilm properties (biofilm concentration and biofilm density) and flow dynamics aspects (head loss, shear stress, bed porosity) were also studied. A major feature of the process is that, with or without ozonation, it was characterised by very low specific sludge production (0.05 kgVSS/kgCODremoved) and high biofilm density (i.e. 87-122 gVSS/Lsludge) both contributing to a rather high biofilm concentration (i.e. 31-44 gTSS/Lfilter).

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