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Process Biochemistry 40 (2005) 593–599 A study of industrial anaerobic treatment of opaque beer brewery

Process Biochemistry 40 (2005) 593–599

Process Biochemistry 40 (2005) 593–599 A study of industrial anaerobic treatment of opaque beer brewery wastewater

A study of industrial anaerobic treatment of opaque beer brewery wastewater in a tropical climate using a full-scale UASB reactor seeded with activated sludge

W. Parawira a , I. Kudita b , M.G. Nyandoroh b , R. Zvauya a,

a Department of Biochemistry, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe b Chibuku Breweries, P.O. Box 3304, Southerton, Harare, Zimbabwe

Received 1 August 2003; accepted 17 January 2004

Abstract

A full-scale upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor treating traditional opaque beer brewery wastewater recently installed at an opaque beer factory was studied for 2 years. The total volume of the reactor was 500 m 3 and the hydraulic retention time was approximately 24 h. The aim of the study was to evaluate the performance of the UASB reactor during anaerobic digestion of opaque beer brewery wastewater in terms of treatment efficiency. The untreated opaque beer wastewater has high solids content and high organic matter, which need pretreatment before it is discharged into municipal sewage treatment works. The UASB reactor enables the brewery to meet the requirements of the wastewater discharged into municipal sewerage system of Harare. The average percentage reduction in Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) was 57%. The total and settleable solids were also reduced by 50 and 90%, respectively. The effluent from the UASB reactor contained higher orthophosphates and nitrogen levels than the influent leading to the accumulation of these nutrients in the system. These results indicated that the UASB plant was effective for treating opaque beer brewery wastewater at ambient temperature to meet the quality of effluent that can be discharged into public water works. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Anaerobic digestion; UASB; Opaque beer brewery wastewater; Chemical Oxygen Demand

1. Introduction

The opaque beer brewery industry uses large volumes of water and discharges large volumes of effluent throughout the year, which are highly polluting. In Zimbabwe, there are 20 opaque beer breweries that produce over 420 million litres of opaque beer each year. The opaque beer brewing involves the blending of sorghum malt, and maize grits, followed by its subsequent fermentation with yeast. Essentially the pro- cess involves lactic acid fermentation as well as alcoholic fermentation. The beer is marketed and consumed whilst still actively fermenting. The brewing process employs a number of batch-type operations in processing raw materi- als to the final beer product. In the process large quantities of water are used for the production of beer itself, as well as for general washing of floors, and cleaning the brewhouse,

Corresponding author. Tel.: +263-430-8047; fax: +263-430-8046. E-mail address: rzvauya@yahoo.co.uk (R. Zvauya).

0032-9592/$ – see front matter © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.procbio.2004.01.036

cellars, packaging and cleaning in place, after each batch is completed. Due to the opaque beer brewery’s effluent char- acteristic high organic content and acidic nature, it has the potential to cause considerable environmental problems [1]. Such industrial effluents may result in reduction of the ef- ficiency of the municipal treatment works [2]. The brewery effluents may affect water quality in many ways, including organic matter increase, and resultant increase in Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD 5 ) and COD. The high organic loads in the wastewater arises from dissolved carbohydrates, the alcohol from beer wastes, and a high content of suspended solids, e.g. spent maize, malt, and yeast. In order to con- trol pollution and protect the environment, brewery effluent containing high concentrations of organic matter cannot be discharged to sewers and watercourses. The municipal au- thority in Harare is placing severe restrictions on the quality of effluent which industry can discharge into their munici- pal system, which makes on-site pretreatment necessary for some types of effluent. The brewery effluent is composed of wastewaters from cleaning tanks, fermentation tanks, floors

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etc. [3]. A highly polluted effluent will reduce the capacity of the municipal wastewater treatment plant considerably and even overload such a plant. The implementation of low-cost, efficient, simple miti- gation measures is required to enable the traditional opaque beer brewery industry to contribute to water conservation. For the breweries, there are aerobic and anaerobic bio- logical treatment options. Zvauya et al. [1] reported the possibility of using thermophilic aerobic treatment of tradi- tional opaque beer brewery wastewater. However, brewery effluent is categorised as medium-to-high-strength organic wastewater and requires an intensive amount of energy for aeration. Another mitigating factor is the large amount of waste sludge generated from these aerobic treatment pro- cesses, which also needs to be handled and disposed of and this increases the cost of operation of the treatment system. Austermann-Haun and Seyfried [4] reported that UASB plant at a brewery proved to be environmentally safer and more efficient than a high rate aerobic pretreatment plant. On the other hand, anaerobic digestion is a simple and reli- able option with several advantages. The advantages of the process include the fact that less energy is required because no aeration is needed, the organic matter in the influent is partly converted to methane, which can be used for energy production, and less excess biomass and sludge are formed and therefore less disposal cost [5,6]. During anaerobic digestion organic pollutants are degraded by a consortia of microbial populations through multiple degradation steps such as hydrolysis/fermentation, acetogenesis and methano- genesis [7]. These anaerobic microbes, including fermenta- tive bacteria, acetogenic bacteria and methanogens usually form a syntrophic relation [8]. Anaerobic digestion enables

industry to comply with the stricter pollution control regu- lations, and also to satisfy the search for greater efficiency, better economy and the use of natural energy sources [9]. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the application of anaerobic digestion to brewery wastewater since the nature and strengths of the brewery wastewater often provides ideal conditions for the digester operations. However, there are problems associated with the start-up and operation of anaerobic treatment process due to the com- plexity of the process that is carried out by a consortium of unidentified and interdependent microorganisms, which makes the process unstable and difficult to monitor. Given the particularly complex and fluctuating nature of the brew- ery wastewater, it is clear that anaerobic digestion could be

a sensitive to the changes in wastewater composition. Also

the anaerobic treatment of many industrial effluents with low pH and high organic load has always been problematic

as compared to other wastes of different origin, e.g. mu- nicipal wastes [10]. UASB reactors need not be unreliable

if properly operated, monitored and controlled. The UASB

wastewater (pre-) treatment systems represent proven sus- tainable technology for a wide range of very different indus- trial effluents [11–14]. The onus, therefore, rests both on the designer to provide reliable control arrangements and on the

operator to devise overall monitoring and control strategies to minimise an overload risk. Despite the fact that the opaque beer brewing industry is big business in most African countries, there are very few breweries that are attempting to treat their waste. Brew- ery effluent treatment work has been largely on clear beer wastewater [5]. There are no published scientific reports of anaerobic digestion of opaque beer brewery wastewater us- ing the anaerobic digestion technology to the best of our knowledge. The aim of this study was to evaluate the anaer- obic digestion of opaque beer brewery wastewater from the largest opaque beer brewery in Harare, Zimbabwe using a recently installed UASB reactor.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. The reactor system used

The industrial full-scale UASB reactor or clarigester at an opaque beer brewery in Harare was used in the study. The UASB reactor was constructed of concrete. The volume of the UASB reactor was 500 m 3 based on the average organic loading rate of 6 kg COD/m 3 per day. The effluent treat- ment plant consisted of a receiving tank, screens (0.5 mm mesh), balancing tank and the UASB reactor. The screens were used to remove heavy suspended solids. The balanc- ing or buffering tank was used to balance the variations in organic loads, pH and flow resulting from batch operation of the brewing process as well as the dilution of toxic and inhibiting compounds from the processing plant. The nitro- gen and phosphate nutrients supplements were added into the balancing tank in the form of urea and triple super phos- phate. The nutrients were added to obtain a COD:N:P ratio of 100:5:1. The wastewater was acidic (pH 3.3–6.3) and thus soda ash was also added to adjust the influent pH to neutral. The wastewater emanating from the balancing tank was then fed into the bottom of the UASB reactor and the effluent discharged from the top together with the gas. The digester was originally seeded using a mixture of active municipal sludge, which was maintained at a temperature of approx- imately 37 ± 2 C for 3 months with intermittent feeding with brewery wastewater to acclimatise the bacteria to the feed substrate. The retention time was approximately 24 h although it varied with influent flow. The performance of the UASB system was monitored by measurement of the COD, and permanganate value (PV) in the influent and the effluent over a period of 2 years.

2.2. Analytical methods

Chemical analyses were conducted on both the influent and effluent composite samples collected after two days throughout every month after commissioning of the plant. Samples were collected every hour over a 24-h period and the measurement of the parameters was done to determine

W. Parawira et al. / Process Biochemistry 40 (2005) 593–599

Table 1 Monitoring programme employed in this study

595

Monitoring point

Type of sample

Analysis

Frequency

Brewery wastewater (raw wastewater, receiving tank) Influent to UASB (from balancing tank) Effluent from UASB

Composite (24 h)

COD, PV, Total Kejdahl Nitrogen, phosphates, pH, total solids, settleable solids COD, PV, pH, total solids, settleable solids, nitrogen, phosphates

3× per week

Grab/composite (24 h)

3× per week

Grab/composite (24 h)

COD, PV, pH, total solids, settleable solids, nitrogen, phosphates

3× per week

the overall parameter profile of the total brewery effluent for that day. The monitoring and reporting programme fol- lowed in this study was as shown below (Table 1). The mean value and the range for the month were reported in the monthly report of operation. The results presented here are monthly averages. The following parameters were monitored and analysed according to standard methods: pH, COD, permanganate value, total solids (TS), total suspended solids, settleable solids, total dissolved solids [15]. The amounts of orthophos- phates and total nitrogen were measured with the test kits according to manufacturer’s instruction (Merck, Germany) using a Spectroquant Nova 60 photometer (Merck, Ger- many).

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Opaque beer brewery effluent composition

The average composition of opaque beer brewery wastew- ater from the opaque beer brewery before treatment is given in Table 2. The wastewater required nutritive and pH condi- tioning before it entered the reactor. As the raw wastewater was unable to provide sufficient nutrients for anaerobic mi- croorganisms, urea and potassium phosphate were added to give a COD:N:P of 100:5:1. Ochieng et al. [16] reported a higher COD reduction with nitrates and phosphates enriched brewery wastewater compared with wastewater without nu- trient enrichment. The effluent was acidic, thus, soda ash was also added to adjust the influent pH to neutral pH. The permissible limits of components in effluent discharged into public water are also shown in Table 2. As can be seen the

Table 2 Opaque beer brewery wastewater characteristics before treatment

levels of water quality parameters do not meet the effluent standards of the local authority. The results indicate that the untreated opaque beer brewery wastewater has high organic matter and suspended solids and low concentrations of nu- trients. They is the type of wastewater for which anaerobic digestion would be an acceptable treatment method [17]. The characteristic high concentrations of organic pollutants and low nutrient content characterised by large variations in these parameters is consistent with wastewater from clear beer breweries [3,11]. The fluctuations in the wastewater characteristics are due to changes in what is happening in the plant during each period and discontinuous discharges of the brewery’s departments. Owing to the large fluctuations in the strength of the brewery wastewater, the influent COD concentration showed large variations, making it difficult to use a constant organic loading rate. There is need for on-site treatment of the wastewater to protect the environment and reduce costs as heavy penalties are imposed for discharging substandard effluent into the urban treatment works. Activated sludge was chosen to seed the UASB reactor instead of pre-granulated bacterial flocs or digested sewage sludge because a considerable amount of methanogenic bac- teria is found in activated sludge and it is easy to obtain large amounts. More importantly activated sludge contains little sand or soil and is composed mostly of biomass unlike digested sewage sludge [11].

3.2. Performance of the UASB clarigester

The performance of the UASB plant at the opaque beer brewery was studied over a period of 2 years (Fig. 1). The final effluent from the wastewater treatment plant had a pH between 6.5 and 7.3. For first 3 months of the study, the

Parameter

Range of values

Average value ± S.D. of 30 samples

Permitted value by Harare city

pH COD (mg/l) Total suspended solids (mg/l) Total solids (mg/l) Total dissolved solids (mg/l) Settleable solids (cm 3 /l) Total nitrogen (mg/l) Total phosphates (mg/l) Permanganate value (mg/l) Temperature ( C)

3.30–6.30

4.5 ± 0.6 12535 ± 4278 2841 ± 175 7201 ± 1606 4520 ± 1927 274 ± 268 0.023 ± 0.007 59 ± 52 627 ± 232 28 ± 3

6.8–9.0

8240 20000

3000

2901–3000

600

5100–8750

2020–5940

<2000

90–400

10

0.0196–0.0336

400

16–124

30

287–900

80

25–35

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20 80 18 70 16 60 14 50 12 10 40 8 30 6 20
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COD (g/L)
% COD reduction

Time (months)

Fig. 1. COD removal efficiency of the full-scale UASB reactor treating opaque beer brewery wastewater for a period of 24 months (September 1999–August 2001). The acceptable COD value by the city council is below 3 g/l. Influent COD ( ), effluent COD ( ), permissible value ( ), %COD reduction (×).

effluent from the digester had high levels of COD remain- ing after treatment. This may have been probably due to the presence of suspended solids in the influent. There was a lot of bad beer destruction in these months as well. The total solids in the influent to the anaerobic digester were reduced as from the fourth month by removing solids from the bottom of the receiving tank, and the performance of the reactor improved. In the 5th, 6th and 11th month the effluent from the reactor had high COD because of beer de- struction. The brewery was discharging spoilt beer into the effluent plant during these months. Furthermore the whole wastewater treatment plant also suffered heavily from pump mechanical breakdowns in these months. During pump breakdowns the influent was discharged directly into the municipal sewers. The average COD removal efficiency was 57% for the period of this study. The COD removal efficiency improved from the 12th month to the end of the study period. This was due to installation of a screen with

a smaller mesh size (0.5 mm) in the 11th month, which re-

duced the quantity of total solids entering the digester. The first screen had a mesh size of 1.0 mm. The COD removal efficiency achieved in this study is comparable to an average of 60% obtained in a comparative laboratory-scale study of the effects of dairy and clear beer brewery effluents on the treatability of domestic sewage by Kilani [2]. However, Stadlbauer et al. [18] reported COD removal efficiencies of 85 to 90% from a study of anaerobic purification of lager beer brewery wastewater in laboratory scale biofilm reactors with and without a methanation cascade. Austermann-Haun and Seyfried [4] also reported 80% COD removal effi- ciency from a pilot-scale UASB reactor treating clear beer brewery wastewater. A study using a laboratory-scale up- flow sludge blanket reactor at ambient temperatures gave

a COD removal of 89% [19]. In other words, the perfor- mance of the UASB currently being examined could be improved.

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PV (mg/L)
% PV reduction

Time (months)

Fig. 2. Time course of the performance of the UASB reactor in terms of permanganate value (PV) reduction. The acceptable PV value is below 80 mg/l. Influent PV ( ), effluent PV ( ), permissible value ( ), percent PV reduction (×).

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Total K. nitrogen (mg/L)

Time (months)

Fig. 3. Changes in Total Kejdahl Nitrogen (TKN) concentrations during anaerobic treatment of traditional opaque beer brewery wastewater in the UASB reactor in 24 months. Influent TKN ( ), effluent TKN ( ), permissible TKN value ( ).

Changes in the organic load removal were also monitored using permanganate value (PV) and are shown in Fig. 2. The local authority uses the permanganate method for deter- mining the organic load of the effluent, however, the dichro- mate reflux method is better than the permanganate and so the COD was measured by both methods. The efficiency for reduction of PV ranged from 30 to 70% with an av- erage of 62% for the period under study. In general, the reactor reduced the permanganate value to the permissible level of 80 mg/l from the 14th month to the end of the study period. From the 17th month to the end of the study period there was a great improvement of the treatment efficiency in terms of COD and permanganate value (Figs. 1 and 2, respec- tively). This can be partly attributed to the reduction in the total solids in the influent entering the digester that was

carried during that period of study. It could also be argued that may be the seed sludge in the reactor was still acclima- tising to the brewery effluent and the anaerobic conditions of the reactor in the early period of the study. It is well known that the start-up phase of a newly installed UASB reactor may demand a long period of time for acclimatisation. The seed sludge consisted of aerobic bacteria initially and suf- ficient large active anaerobic microbial population to break down the influent COD had been built towards the end of the study period. Further work is necessary in order to de- termine the major cause of the observed improved efficiency in the reactor performance.Fig. 3 shows changes in total ni- trogen concentration during anaerobic digestion of opaque beer brewery wastewater in the UASB reactor. Generally opaque beer brewery wastewater has low nitrogen levels and this has to be supplemented to meet the required amounts by

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Total phosphates (mg/L)

Time (months)

Fig. 4. Changes in total phosphates during anaerobic digestion of traditional opaque beer brewery wastewater in the UASB reactor. Influent total phosphates ( ), effluent total phosphates ( ), permissible total phosphates value ( ).

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Total solids (g/L)
% TS reduction

Time (months)

Fig. 5. Changes in total solids concentration during anaerobic digestion of traditional opaque beer brewery wastewater in the UASB reactor. Influent total solids ( ), effluent total solids ( ), % total solids reduction (×).

microorganisms. The nitrogen levels in the overflow were not higher than the permissible values (400 mg/l), but there is need to monitor this nutrient because it can cause eu- trophication problems downstream, and it can be toxic to the methanogenic bacteria. The UASB reactor discharged effluent that contained total phosphates in greater quantities than permissible levels by the local authority as shown in Fig. 4. The source of the phos- phates seemed to be the addition of triple super phosphate as nutrient supplement in the balancing tank. The anaerobic digestion process in UASB reactor has been reported to have low removal efficiency of nitrogen and phosphates because the system does not produce large quantities of sludge. The nitrogen demand for growth of anaerobic bacteria is almost negligible and if no accumulation of organic matter in the bioreactor occurs, the balance between total nitrogen flow in and out of the reactor should even [19]. Nitrogen and

phosphorus are considered as the limiting nutrients in water bodies and their enrichment by any means lead to accelera- tion of algae and plant growth. However, the levels of total phosphates were much lower from the 12th month onwards. There was a decrease of total and settleable solids as shown in Figs. 5 and 6, respectively. The UASB reactor also managed to reduce the total solids with an average total solid reduction of 50%. Initially the reduction in total solids was low (below 40%) from the 1st month to the 10th month. There was a significant improvement in total solids reduc- tion from the 11th month to the end of the study period with removal efficiency ranging from 60 to 80%. This was due to installation of a screen with a smaller mesh size (0.5 mm) in the 11th month. The settleable solids removal efficiency ranged from 87 to 97% with an average removal efficiency of 90%. Settleable solids are often a problem in breweries and need to be monitored during the treatment process [1].

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Settleable solids (cm3/L)
% reduction

Time (months)

Fig. 6. Performance of the UASB reactor in terms of settleable solids removal. Influent settleable solids ( ), effluent settleable solids ( ), permissible settleable solids concentration ( ), percent settleable solids reduction (×).

W. Parawira et al. / Process Biochemistry 40 (2005) 593–599

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Taking into account the COD and total solids reductions averaging 57 and 50%, respectively, there is need to improve the performance of the UASB reactor. The frequent incor- poration of alkali, besides making the treatment expensive, makes the biological system sensitive to dis-equilibrium or collapse, because the process operates under unstable equi- librium conditions artificially created [8]. There is need to find an alternative cheap source of improving the buffering capacity of the system. The biogas being produced by the 500 m 3 treatment plant is not being collected and measured but is just being released into the atmosphere without be- ing burnt. There is ample scope to explore the viability for biogas recovery to promote better brewery wastewater man- agement. There is need for research into the quantity and composition of the biogas being produced and to try and make use of it for the benefit of the brewery and maintain a positive energy balance.

4. Conclusion

The UASB reduced the organic load to permissible levels during the period of the study, although there is a need to im- prove its performance in terms of organic load removal. The organic load reduction transmitted to municipal treatment plant and subsequently to the environment. Because load- ing becomes substantially lower, municipal sewer charges drop thus resulting in significant savings, most of which is based on effluent COD or BOD, and suspended solids con- tent. Further benefits from the plant could be realised by taping the energy generated by the anaerobic process in the form of methane gas. The methane could be used to heat the steam boiler at the brewery or converted to electricity via a motor-generator. It can be concluded that these points indicate the installation of an anaerobic wastewater treat- ment plant by the brewery as an extremely attractive eco- nomic and environmental alternative considering that lying ahead is an era of critical energy shortages, substantially higher energy prices, and higher demand on environmental protection.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Chibuku Breweries, Tech- nical Department for their cooperation and allowing part of this research to be carried at their premises using their fa- cilities. We would like to thank Nyarai Kurebwaseka and Raymond Murimba for technical assistance. This work was financially supported by SIDA/SAREC grants.

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