Characteristics and Biodegradability of Wastewater Organic Matter in Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants Collecting Domestic Wastewater and Industrial Discharge

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Yun-Young Choi ; Seung-Ryong Baek ; Jae-In Kim ; Jeong-Woo Choi ; Jin Hur ; Tae-U Lee ; Cheol-Joon Park ; Byung Joon Lee (2017)
  • Publisher: MDPI AG
  • Journal: Water (issn: 2073-4441)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3390/w9060409
  • Subject: wastewater | industrial discharge | organic matter | COD fraction | fluorescence | Hydraulic engineering | TC1-978 | Water supply for domestic and industrial purposes | TD201-500

Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Korea collect and treat not only domestic wastewater, but also discharge from industrial complexes. However, some industrial discharges contain a large amount of non-biodegradable organic matter, which cannot be treated properly in a conventional biological WWTP. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics and biodegradability of the wastewater organic matter contained in the industrial discharges and to examine the fate of the industrial discharges in a biological WWTP. In contrast to most previous studies targeting a specific group of organic compounds or traditional water quality indices, such as biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD), this study was purposed to quantify and characterize the biodegradable and nonbiodegradable fractions of the wastewater organic matter. Chemical oxygen demand (COD) fractionation tests and fluorescence spectroscopy revealed that the industrial discharge from dyeing or pulp mill factories contained more non-biodegradable soluble organic matter than did the domestic wastewater. Statistical analysis on the WWTPs’ monitoring data indicated that the industrial discharge containing non-biodegradable soluble organic matter was not treated effectively in a biological WWTP, but was escaping from the system. Thus, industrial discharge that contained non-biodegradable soluble organic matter was a major factor in the decrease in biodegradability of the discharge, affecting the ultimate fate of wastewater organic matter in a biological WWTP. Further application of COD fractionation and fluorescence spectroscopy to wastewaters, with various industrial discharges, will help scientists and engineers to better design and operate a biological WWTP, by understanding the fate of wastewater organic matter.
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