In order to meet increasingly strict Brazilian COD emissions limits, mills must understand the components that contribute to effluent COD, how these vary between normal mill operation and maintenance shutdowns, and how this variation affects treatment efficiency. To this end, primary and secondary effluents from a Brazilian bleached eucalypt kraft pulp mill activated sludge system were analyzed for COD, lignin, extractives, carbohydrates and AOX over a sixth month period that included two general maintenance shutdowns and four months of normal operation. Primary effluent presented significantly different compositions during periods of normal operation and mill shutdowns. During normal operation, the main components of effluent COD (909 mg/l average) were carbohydrates, followed by lignin. However, the lignin fraction was the main component of secondary effluent COD during both normal operation and mill shutdowns. Higher removal efficiencies for COD carbohydrates and AOX were observed during normal operation compared to shutdowns, while no difference in removal efficiencies of lignin and extractives was observed. Carbohydrate removal efficiency was significantly lower in one of the parallel treatment lines. The different removal efficiencies reflect not only variations in effluent composition, but possibly differences in system operational control which should be explored in greater detail

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