Wastewater from an Akzo Nobel production site contains more than 50 g/l total dissolved salts, mainly chlorides and sulphates, and is currently being treated after 10–20× dilution. Biological treatment of undiluted or less diluted wastewater is very desirable for environmental and economic reasons. Possibilities were investigated in laboratory scale reactors to treat this highly saline and high strength wastewater aerobically, either after long adaptation or after removing part of the salts by a pretreatment. Adaptation and selection from mixed activated sludge populations took approximately 40 days to finally achieve a COD removal in aerobic treatment of 55–65% at two times dilution (11–16 g/l chloride and 5–7 g/l sulphate). Undiluted wastewater was not treatable. A higher removal percentage (>80%) was possible at the original high salt concentration only when the sludge load was limited to approximately 0.4–0.5 kg COD/kg sludge/day. A longer adaptation time was required. Nanofiltration (NF) and crystallization could be used as a pretreatment to remove and recover up to 80% of the sulphate in the form of crystallized Glauber salt. Recovery strongly depended on the sulphate and chloride concentration in the NF concentrate and on crystallization temperature. The salt (sulphate) reduction through the NF improved the removal efficiency of a consecutive biotreatment only at a relatively low chloride level, demonstrating that the combination of nanofiltration-crystallization-aerobic biodegradation is less feasible for very saline wastewaters. Anaerobic pretreatment of saline waters turned out to be rather sensitive to high salinities. Only wastewater diluted to 10 g/l chloride could be treated well: sulphate concentration decreased by 80% and COD by 40%. Removal efficiencies of the combined anaerobic-aerobic treatment were approximately 80–85%, proving that this was a feasible route for 2–3× diluted wastewater. The study has shown that several alternatives are available for treatment of the very saline wastewaters at a much lower degree of dilution than currently practiced.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.