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Treatment of poultry slaughterhouse wastewater using an expanded granular sludge bed anaerobic digester coupled with anoxic/aerobic hybrid side stream ultrafiltration membrane bioreactor
For more than a decade, poultry product consumption increased in developed and developing countries, with more than 470 new slaughterhouses being constructed in South Africa (SA). Customer demand for poultry products resulted in a rapidly growing poultry industry, with consequential increases in the quantity of organic solid and liquid waste being produced from the poultry slaughterhouses. Annually, the productivity and profitability within the livestock production sector has increased, an evaluation based on the number of slaughtered and sold animals. Potable water is required for these animals, resulting in the generation of high strength wastewaters. Instantaneous disposal of such wastewaters into the environment is concerning as it results in odour and the spreading of diseases in local rivers and freshwater sources. The generated poultry slaughterhouse wastewater (PSW) contains a high quantity of biodegradable organic, suspended and colloidal matter in the form of proteins, fats, oil and grease (FOG), protein from meat, blood, skin, and feathers, resulting in high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), which can contribute to environmental deterioration if not treated adequately before discharge. On average, PSW contains a high concentration of BOD, COD, nitrogen, pathogenic and non-pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites, including their eggs. These characteristics make PSW highly polluted with a large quantity of bird carcass debris including FOG. Due to the high concentration of organic matter and suspended solids in the wastewater, it is necessary to pre-treat the PSW prior to sequential anaerobic treatment. Most of the contaminants present in the PSW can be reduced by means of numerous treatment steps, i.e. physical, chemical and biological treatment. For this study, biological treatment methods, physical separation methods, and a membrane bioreactor system, were used to treat PSW. The biological treatment methods used were an anaerobic digester (AD) followed by a single stage nitrification/denitrification reactor and then a third stage in which an ultrafiltration (UF) and Microfiltration (MF) membrane bioreactor (MBR) was used. The AD used was an Expanded Granular sludge Bed Reactor (EGSB) as anaerobic digestion is one of the most effective biological wastewater treatment methods used, as it reduces the organic matter to even produce biogas as a renewable energy source. The basis of anaerobic treatment method relies on suitable bacteria cultivated in the absence of dissolved oxygen, facilitating decomposition of organic matter into a renewable source such as biogas. Similarly, biological nitrification/denitrification processes for the removal of total nitrogen (TN) in wastewater has become one of the most commonly used processes within the wastewater treatment sector. Nitrification and denitrification processes can be performed by some microorganisms within the wastewater in Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) The PSW used was collected at different times from a local poultry slaughterhouse in the Western Cape (South Africa) and stored in a refrigerator at 4°C until it was fed to the first stage of the treatment which was the EGSB. Before being fed to the EGSB, the PSW was filtered with a sieve to remove feathers and agglomerated FOG to avoid clogging of the tubing. The EGSB was inoculated with 0.747 L anaerobic granular sludge, had a working volume of 2.7 L, an inner diameter of 0.065 m and a height of 0.872 m respectively. Ceramic marbles with an average diameter of 0.0157m were placed at the bottom of the bioreactor as packing for the underdrain and to maintain the granular sludge within the heated section of the bioreactor. The EGSB was fed with three types of PSW: 50% (v/v), 70% (v/v), which was diluted with distilled water. Thereafter once the system stabilised the reactor was fed with undiluted PSW (100%). Each dilution was operated at different Hydraulic Retention Times (HRTs) and Organic Loading Rates (OLRs), with average HRTs used being 62.5, 57.5 and 49.65 h. Furthermore, the average OLRs were 1, 2 and 3 g tCOD/L.day respectively. The performance of the EGSB was determined using tCOD, Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and FOG, with overall averaged removal rates for these constituents being 69%, 98% and 92% respectively. The highest tCOD removal of 93 % (optimal efficiency) was obtained at an average HRT of 57.5 h with a corresponding average OLR of 2 g tCOD/L.day.