Industrial Wastewater Treatment: Who Requires It?
With rising population, urbanization and industrialization combined with closing river basins, India is left with highly water stressed regions with the inability to efficiently manage its water resources. Consequently, the average per capita freshwater availability is expected to reduce to 1241 m3 by 2025. It is also estimated that around 29.3 billion cubic meters of water will be required for domestic and industrial purposes by the year 2025. Therefore, efficient and economic biological treatment of industrial wastewater and its reuse have emerged as a potential solution to meet water demands in the future.
In India, approximately 13,368 MLD of wastewater is generated by industries, out of which only 60%, mostly from large scale industries, gets treated daily. Industrial wastewater from small scale industries often don’t get treated to the prescribed standards. Hence its reuse is restricted to agriculture and industrial reuse and cannot be used for household needs. Thus, urgent innovative solutions are the need of the hour to improve the industrial wastewater treatment process in India.
Components of Industrial Wastewater
Based on the type of manufacturing industry, the effluents can vary in their compositions. The most common components found in industrial wastewater requiring treatment include ammonia, acids, heavy metals, calcium ions, detergents, paints, organic matter, solvents, fats, cellulose, food wastes etc.
As a large quantity of industrial wastewater ends up in the environment, industries need to treat effluents properly to meet the prescribed standards. Many industries in India require efficient secondary treatment of wastewater (through biological methods).
The major industries requiring treatment are as follows :
1)Food and Beverage: Wastewater generated in food and beverage industries contains large amounts of nutrients, organic carbon, and a high concentration of organic particulate matter. Wastewater from dairy industries may contain high amounts of fats, oils and grease and whey liquid that needs to be separated and treated efficiently.
2) Pulp and Paper: Around 85% of the total effluent from this industry gets generated during the bleaching stage, with the effluent loadings dependent on the raw materials. It consists of varying quantities of organic and inorganic substances. Chemical compounds in the wastewater that need treatment include resin acids, phytosterols, retene and fatty acids. Activated sludge treatment and aerated ponds are the most common treatment systems chosen for wastewater generated in paper industries.
3)Oil & Gas and Petrochemicals: Pollutants in wastewater generated from the petroleum industry include a variety of compounds such as hydrocarbons, mercaptans, oil and grease, phenol, ammonia and sulphides. Common treatment methods include photocatalytic degradation, advanced oxidation, bioremediation etc.
4)Healthcare (Hospitals): Around 200 to 400 L/Capita/day of wastewater gets generated in developing countries like India. Most effluents from hospitals get released into the sewer systems or get treated at the on-site sewage treatment plant before being released into the environment. However, improper treatment of this effluent can cause damage to human health as the effluent is characterized by pharmaceutically active compounds, antibiotic-resistant genes, viruses, high BOD and COD content.
5)Chemical Manufacturers: Wastewater produced from this industry contains highly toxic pollutants with organic and inorganic wastes in varying degrees of concentration. Materials released can be toxic, carcinogenic and mutagenic and require high levels of treatment before release.
6)Drugs and Pharmaceuticals: Wastewater from these industries can contain pharmaceutically active compounds with intrinsic biological activity. Its presence in the environment without proper treatment can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant microbes, increased toxicity of chemicals and adverse effects on human and aquatic health. Common approaches for the treatment of wastewater include the recovery of individual APIs or drugs, aerobic/anaerobic biological treatment, inactivation of active substances through UV oxidation or basic physical-chemical treatment methods.
7)Distilleries and Breweries: Most Breweries discharge about 70% of their incoming water as effluent. Brewery wastewater has high moisture content and can be characterized by high BOD and COD levels due to organic components like sugar, starch and fatty acids.
Other industries that require wastewater treatment are as follows :
1)Agriculture: Wastewater from agricultural processes contains high levels of nitrate and phosphate contaminants from the usage of fertilizers. Water treated from these sectors gets reused for irrigation, livestock and machinery washing.
2)Construction: Waste generated from construction industries includes debris. However, a minimal amount of wastewater is generated from the washing of heavy construction equipment.
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