Removal of high organic loads from winery wastewater by aquatic plants

Y Zimmels, F Kirzhner, J Schreiber
Water Environment Research: a Research Publication of the Water Environment Federation 2008, 80 (9): 806-22
Laboratory- and field-scale purification tests of raw and diluted winery wastewater (WWW) were carried out using aquatic plants at high organic loads. The laboratory tests were performed using artificial light at 1800 to 1900 lux. The objective of the current study was to define the potential of floating and emergent aquatic macrophytes and the microorganisms attached to their roots, to reduce high organic loads that characterize WWW, thereby providing, for these effluents, an effective treatment and management system. These microorganisms are believed to have a major role in the treatment process. In this context, the potential of floating and emergent macrophytes to improve the water quality of raw compared with diluted WWW was evaluated. In raw WWW (chemical oxygen demand [COD] 5.6 g/L),growth inhibition of both water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and water pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata) was observed. A 1:1 dilution of WWW with fresh (tap) water facilitated growth of these plants. At this dilution level, growth of pennywort was limited, while that of water hyacinth was robust. In terms of reductions in biochemical oxygen demand, COD, and total suspended solids, both water hyacinth and pennywort performed better in diluted compared with raw WWW. At 1:1 and 1:3 dilution, 95.9 to 97% of the COD was removed after 23 days, in the presence of Hydrocotyle and Eichhornia plants and aeration. The capacity of new emergent plants to remove high organic loads from WWW, at enhanced kinetics, was demonstrated. This unique property was tested and compared with the role of the gravel media that support growth of the high-capacity emergent plants. In the presence of reed and salt marsh plants, 83 to 99% of the COD was removed within a period of 24 to 29 days, at 1.5:1 dilution. The new emergent plants proved to be effective, even at record high levels of COD. At an initial level of 16,460 mg/L, the COD was brought down to 2870 mg/L after 24 days (82.6% removal), while 12 230 mg/L was lowered to 106 mg/L, giving 99.1% removal from the highly contaminated WWW. These results indicate a significant extension of the range of applicability of emergent plants for the treatment of raw and diluted WWW. In this context, daily removal rates as high as 2000 mg/L in the first treatment days, and an average of over 550 mg/L per day in 24 days of treatment, were recorded. The indoor experiments were conducted without proper acclimatization of the plants to high-strength WWW. This might have affected the plants' health in case, with acclimatization, they might have behaved differently.

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