The world is facing many environmental challenges, and our wastewater streams are causing some of the problems. Some wastewater that is discharged as effluent may contain contaminants like pathogens, chemical substances, nutrients, heavy metals, and of course - water.
Wastewater sustainability is becoming a paramount issue for communities around the world, especially when it comes to water pollution. Contamination from wastewater and poor wastewater recovery equipment is a significant contributor to water pollution. Wastewater is now recognized as a potential resource to be recovered and reused rather than just discharged into surrounding waterways.
The need for sustainable wastewater management
Sustainable wastewater management is crucial in reducing pollution levels, preserving public health, and protecting the environment. It is essential to balance the cost of the management method and its environmental impact.
The global population growth, rapid industrialization and urbanization, and climate change are drastically affecting the wastewater resources. Therefore, we need to adopt sustainable methods that reduce wastewater effluent, reuse our wastewater, and implement an optimized process to reduce the impact of wastewater effluent on the environment.
According to a report Innovating Sustainability: The Future of Wastewater Management by Valuer, "Innovation within this industry (wastewater sustainability) is imperative as the average family wastes around 9,400 gallons of water per year, while farming and agriculture account for 70% of the worldwide consumption of freshwater." These statistics are also backed up by EPA, as well as noting "That's equivalent to the amount of water needed to wash more than 300 loads of laundry."
Technology and wastewater treatment
Technology plays a pivotal role in achieving sustainable wastewater management. There are several technologies available today that have a proven track record in wastewater treatment, including moving bed biofilm reactors, advanced oxidation processes, and biological nutrient removal. First, we will start with moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBR.)
Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR): MBBR is a biological technology used for wastewater treatment process suitable for municipal and industrial application. The technology separates organic substances, nitrification, and denitrification.
AquaCELL is a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) that is manufactured by AquaPoint. This process involves millions of submerged polyethylene (HDPE) biofilm carriers operate in motion within an aerated or mechanically mixed basin. As the neutrally buoyant carriers move throughout the water column, oxygen and organic/inorganic material are available to the biofilm which absorbs, oxidizes, and reduces these pollutants thus providing treatment. The dense population of bacteria provides high-rate productivity, enhanced nitrification/denitrification, and process stability.
Ease of operation and maintenance
Process stability, resilient to toxic shock loading
Compact designs, small footprint, yet expandable
Enhanced oxygen transfer efficiency
Treats flows from 0.001 to 10 MGD
Cold climate nitrification/denitrification
Capable of treating high strength and industrial wastewater
Cost effective retrofits and upgrades
Long media life cycle (> 20 years)
Minimal O&M requirements
Bioclere-OH is a two-stage hybrid biological treatment process manufactured by AquaPoint. The Bioclere-OH integrates the AquaCELL™ moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) with a BioclereTM high-rate trickling filter. The high-rate productivity and oxygen transfer efficiency of the MBBR combined with the polishing and clarification capability of the Bioclere makes Bioclere-OH ideal for high-performance nitrification and denitrification applications.
BOD/COD removal and partial nitrification are accomplished in the first stage MBBR by heterotrophic organisms creates a robust population of nitrifying autotrophic organisms to colonize in the trickling filter media bed and accomplish complete ammonia-N removal. Bioclere-OH is a fixed-film technology offering process stability, small footprint, minimal process control requirements and high-quality effluent.
Next, we will talk about advanced oxidation processes for contaminant removal.
Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOP): AOP technologies are used to eliminate organic materials and harmful substances from the wastewater stream. It is a highly flexible system that offers excellent removal of contaminants and is used in both municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants.
The BioLargo Advanced Oxidation System (AOS) is a patented and innovative advanced water treatment technology that marries iodine electrochemistry with cutting-edge engineering.
The result is a water treatment platform that provides high-level disinfection against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa and elimination of hard-to-treat organic contaminants, all while consuming less electricity than any competing technology.
The AOS can eliminate challenging micropollutants from water and reduces toxic and environmental damage caused by micropollutants.
In November 2018, BioLargo created a press release regarding the success of the Advanced Oxidation System. BioLargo's Advanced Oxidation System (AOS) Test Data Shows Breakthrough to Treat and Reduce the Toxicity of Micropollutants Associated with Municipal Wastewater.
"This study succeeded on both fronts, demonstrating that water treated by the AOS technology was non-toxic to certain aquatic organisms typically used for testing whole effluent toxicity for the EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits Program, such as Daphnia and rainbow trout, as well as zebrafish embryos. Additionally, the AOS eliminated biomarker responses of municipal wastewater that has been experimentally contaminated (spiked) with compounds (benzo[a]pyrene and 17β-estradiol) known to negatively affect those organisms.
Further, the study showed that the AOS reduces the well-documented aberrant endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) effects of 17β-estradiol (an estrogen derivative) on rainbow trout. AOS was able to reduce both the normal EDC effects of municipal wastewater on rainbow trout and was also successful in removing 17β-estradiol from municipal wastewater spiked with much higher levels of the hormone.
These results represent promising evidence that the AOS can remove micropollutants that are an emerging concern to the water treatment industry."
Lastly, we will talk about biological nutrient removal.
Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR): a process used for nitrogen and phosphorus removal from wastewater before it is discharged into surface or ground water.
The Nexom Blue Pro® Reactive Filtration technology is a simple, powerful tool for meeting ultra-low phosphorus or metals limits. The Blue PRO uses a patented reactive filtration process within our Centra-flo® continuous-backwash media filter to achieve the industry’s lowest phosphorus or metals levels with unmatched efficiency.
Blue Pro® technology offers many benefits:
Meet 20 µg/L (0.02 mg/L) Total Phosphorus limits
Meet µg/L-ng/L metals limits
Reduce plant chemical usage
Eliminate high-rate media backwashes, no change in effluent quality during backwash
Eliminate replacement/loss of media
Perfect for applications for phosphorus removal, municipal wastewater, and Water reuse (Title-22/Class 1A)
The Nuove Energie Ultrascreen® Generation3 is the premier stainless-steel disk filter for wastewater tertiary treatment. This technology revolutionizes the tertiary treatment with phosphorous removal and allows the recovery and reuse of the outlet waters at treatment plants.
The Dynamic Tangential Filtration® technology allows to treat specific flow rates three times higher than other filtration systems on the market.
Total Phosphorous effluent limits as low as 0.075 mg/L have also been achieved.
Improves the water transmittance, a fundamental factor for the efficiency of the UV-C rays disinfection processes.
Efficiency achieved with tangential filtration allows the system to handle total suspended solids (TSS) upsets up to 150 mg/L and leads to a smaller overall footprint for the system and filtration rates of up to 16 gpm per square foot of disk area.
The Ultrascreen® filter removed on average 58% of the particulate Total Phosphorus throughout the duration of a pilot study with a maximum removal of 1.8 mg/L of Total Phosphorus across the filter.
With chemical precipitation, the filter effluent TP over the duration of the study averaged 0.12 mg/L, well exceeding the 0.25 mg/L TP effluent goal.
Also, it should be noted this 0.12 mg/L TP average included the testing during the high influent TP period at the beginning of the study.
The benefits of sustainable wastewater management
Sustainable wastewater management practices offer numerous benefits, including:
Renewable energy: Sustainable wastewater management improves the potential for generating energy in the form of biogas from organic matter.
Reduced carbon footprint: Sustainable wastewater management reduces the environmental impact of carbon emissions by reducing wastewater volume and producing energy.
Resource recovery: Sustainable wastewater management enables valuable by-products to be extracted and reused.
Sustainable wastewater management is the foundation of a cleaner future and should be a priority for municipalities, communities, governments, and industrial businesses. We must learn about and adopt sustainable treatment technologies to remove the contaminants from wastewater streams, recover valuable resources, and reduce environmental pollution. It is time for everyone to commit towards providing an environmentally sustainable future for the next generations by implementing the best wastewater management practices available.
If you are interested in learning more about the featured technology in this blog, please contact the ICS Group for a customized presentation.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2023, April 23. Statistics and Facts. Statistics and Facts | US EPA
Valuer. November 2022. Innovating Sustainability: The Future of Wastewater Management. Innovating Sustainability: The Future of Wastewater Management (valuer.ai)