The amount of pollutants produced during manufacturing processes of TFT-LCD (thin-film transistor liquid crystal display) substantially increases due to an increasing production of the opto-electronic industry in Taiwan. The total amount of wastewater from TFT-LCD manufacturing plants is expected to exceed 200,000 CMD in the near future. Typically, organic solvents used in TFT-LCD manufacturing processes account for more than 33% of the total TFT-LCD wastewater. The main components of these organic solvents are composed of the stripper (dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and monoethanolamine (MEA)), developer (tetra-methyl ammonium hydroxide (TMAH)) and chelating agents. These compounds are recognized as non-or slow-biodegradable organic compounds and little information is available regarding their biological treatability.

In this study, the performance of an A/O SBR (anoxic/oxic sequencing batch reactor) treating synthetic TFT-LCD wastewater was evaluated. The long-term experimental results indicated that the A/O SBR was able to achieve stable and satisfactory removal performance for DMSO, MEA and TMAH at influent concentrations of 430, 800, and 190 mg/L, respectively. The removal efficiencies for all three compounds examined were more than 99%. In addition, batch tests were conducted to study the degradation kinetics of DMSO, MEA, and TMAH under aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic conditions, respectively. The organic substrate of batch tests conducted included 400 mg/L of DMSO, 250 mg/L of MEA, and 120 mg/L of TMAH. For DMSO, specific DMSO degradation rates under aerobic and anoxic conditions were both lower than 4 mg DMSO/g VSS-hr. Under anaerobic conditions, the specific DMSO degradation rate was estimated to be 14 mg DMSO/g VSS-hr, which was much higher than those obtained under aerobic and anoxic conditions. The optimum specific MEA and TMAH degradation rates were obtained under aerobic conditions with values of 26.5 mg MEA/g VSS-hr and 17.3 mg TMAH/g VSS-hr, respectively. Compared to aerobic conditions, anaerobic biodegradation of MEA and TMAH was much less significant with values of 5.6 mg MEA/g VSS-hr and 0 mg TMAH/g VSS-hr, respectively. In summary, biological treatment of TFT-LCD wastewater containing DMSO, MEA, and TMAH is feasible, but appropriate conditions for optimum biodegradation of DMSO, MEA, and TMAH are crucial and require carefully operational consideration.

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