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Industrial wastewater treatment for fertilizer industry- A case study

Vinay M. Bhandari, Laxmi Gayatri Sorokhaibam and Vivek V. Ranade

Chemical Engineering & Process Development Division CSIR- National Chemical Laboratory Pune-411 008. India

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Wastewaters from chemical fertilizer industry mainly contain organics, alcohols, ammonia, nitrates, phosphorous, heavy metals such as cadmium and suspended solids. The nature of effluent streams varies in terms of its constituents and complexity. The present work attempts to fill the void in the literature that mostly reports synthetic wastewater treatment studies; by evaluating effluent treatment solutions and comparison of different methods for real wastewaters from fertilizer industry. An attempt has been made to devise suitable methodology mainly using a new device in the form of Vortex Diode for hydrodynamic cavitation and also using adsorption, for several real wastewater streams from different locations in one major fertilizer industry of Maharashtra, India. The strategy involved characterization of wastewaters, studies on effective removal of Chemical Oxygen Demand(COD) and devising solutions for effective reduction in ammoniacal nitrogen-a more serious issue in the fertilizer industry. The characterization of wastewaters from different streams revealed huge variation in COD from 50 to 140,000 ppm and ammoniacal nitrogen from 6 to 1700 ppm. Some effluent streams contained alcohol up to 5 %. Hydrodynamic cavitation using vortex diode and adsorption with modified carbons were used to treat these streams. Cavitation studies were carried out on a pilot plant and effect of pressure drop, cavitating device and process intensification were studied. It was observed that the effluent treatment strategy requires careful identification and application of suitable treatment method on the basis of nature of the effluent. Also, hydrodynamic cavitation, using vortex diode is techno-economically attractive option in treating fertilizer wastewaters giving a very high reduction in COD and ammoniacal nitrogen (up to 85%), similar to adsorption. The results clearly identify potential of newer methodologies in treatment of effluents in fertilizer industry.

Keywords: Cavitation, Adsorption, Industry, Effluent, Ammoniacal nitrogen Introduction

Industrial wastewater treatment is a complex problem for a variety of highly polluting chemical industries such as fertilizer, distillery, dyes and pigment, textile and specialty chemical manufacturing. Generally, the industrial effluents are characterized in terms of broad parameters such as Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Ammoniacal nitrogen (AN), Total suspended solids (TSS), Total dissolved solids (TDS) etc. that hardly help in identifying nature of pollutants in the effluents. The complexity arises mainly from the issues pertaining to the removal of refractory pollutants that are difficult to remove/degrade using conventional methods of treatment, in general, and biological treatment, in particular. The effluents typically require COD below 250 ppm and AN below 50 ppm for discharge in surface waters, though these norms could differ on the basis of location/country/industry and many a times are even more stricter. This therefore requires development of highly specific methodologies that help in effectively removing refractory pollutants, either through the use of removal and recovery processes (e.g. adsorption) or through use of destructive methods such as hydrodynamic cavitation that destroy the pollutants and results in partial/complete mineralization of the pollutant species through advanced oxidation without employing high temperatures/pressures or catalysts. In the present work, we report studies in both removal and destructive methodologies for a specific case study on various effluent streams from a fertilizer industry, with specific focus on the effective removal of COD and ammoniacal nitrogen from various wastewater streams of this industry sector.

Industrial wastewater treatment usually requires one or more processes from Physical, Physico-chemical and Biological methods. The application of physical methods is quite straightforward for preliminary treatment- mainly for the removal of suspended solids or pH adjustment and will not be discussed here. The challenge is in the selection of most


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