Sewage treatment is the process of removing contaminants from wastewater and household sewage, both runoffs (effluents), domestic, commercial and institutional. It includes physical, chemical, and biological processes to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants. Its objective is to produce an environmentally safe fluid waste stream (or treated effluent) and a solid waste (or treated sludge) suitable for disposal or reuse (usually as farm fertilizer). Using advanced technology it is now possible to re-use sewage effluent for drinking water.
Sewage can be treated close to where the sewage is created, a decentralized system (in septic tanks, biofilters or aerobic treatment systems), or be collected and transported by a network of pipes and pump stations to a municipal treatment plant, a centralized system.
Sewage treatment generally involves three stages, called primary, secondary and tertiary treatment.
This involves the screening and removal of large debris, including sanitary towels, sticks, rags, leaves, wet-wipes etc. from the raw sewage as these are not readily biodegradable by the process bacteria they are then dried and sent to landfill sites or incinerated.
Removing floating, Screening can be disposed easily either by burials or burning. Screens are coarse, medium, fine on the basis of size of opening.
The objective of primary treatment is the removal of settleable organic and inorganic solids by sedimentation, and the removal of materials that will float (scum) by skimming. Approximately 25 to 50% of the incoming biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), 50 to 70% of the total suspended solids (SS), and 65% of the oil and grease are removed during primary treatment. Some organic nitrogen, organic phosphorus, and heavy metals associated with solids are also removed during primary sedimentation but colloidal and dissolved constituents are not affected. The effluent from primary sedimentation units is referred to as primary effluent.
Removing fat oil, grease, Skimming tanks arc disposed oil stabilizing them in digestion tank by any aerobic process.
Primary (mechanical) treatment is designed to remove gross, suspended and floating solids from raw sewage. It includes screening to trap solid objects and sedimentation by gravity to remove suspended solids. This level is sometimes referred to as “mechanical treatment”, although chemicals are often used to accelerate the sedimentation process. Primary treatment can reduce the BOD of the incoming wastewater by 20-30% and the total suspended solids by some 50-60%. Primary treatment is usually the first stage of wastewater treatment. Many advanced wastewater treatment plants in industrialized countries have started with primary treatment, and have then added other treatment stages as wastewater load has grown, as the need for treatment has increased, and as resources have become available.
Secondary (biological) treatment removes the dissolved organic matter that escapes primary treatment. This is achieved by microbes consuming the organic matter as food, and converting it to carbon dioxide, water, and energy for their own growth and reproduction. The biological process is then followed by additional settling tanks (“secondary sedimentation", see photo) to remove more of the suspended solids. About 85% of the suspended solids and BOD can be removed by a well running plant with secondary treatment. The majority of municipal plants treat the settled sewage liquor using aerobic biological processes. To be effective, the biota require both oxygen and food to live. The bacteria and protozoa consume biodegradable soluble organic contaminants (e.g. sugars, fats, organic short-chain carbon molecules, etc.) and bind much of the less soluble fractions into floc. Secondary treatment systems are classified as fixed-film or suspended-growth systems.
Fixed-film or attached growth systems
include trickling filters, biotowers, and rotating
biological contactors, where the biomass grows on media and the sewage passes over its surface. The fixed-film principle has further developed into Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBR), and Integrated Fixed-Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) processes. An MBBR system typically requires smaller footprint than suspended-growth systems.
include activated sludge, where the biomass is mixed with the sewage and can be operated in a smaller space than trickling filters that treat the same amount of water. However, fixed-film systems are more able to cope with drastic changes in the amount of biological material and can provide higher removal rates for organic material and suspended solids than suspended growth systems.
The purpose of tertiary treatment is to provide a final treatment stage to further improve the effluent quality before it is discharged to the receiving environment (sea, river, lake, wet lands,ground, etc.). More than one tertiary treatment process may be used at any treatment plant. If disinfection is practiced, it is always the final process. It is also called "effluent polishing."
The purpose of disinfection in the treatment of waste water is to substantially reduce the number of microorganisms in the water to be discharged back into the environment for the later use of drinking, bathing, irrigation, etc. The effectiveness of disinfection depends on the quality of the water being treated (e.g., cloudiness, pH, etc.), the type of disinfection being used, the disinfectant dosage (concentration and time), and other environmental variables.
Ultraviolet (UV) light can be used instead of chlorine, iodine, or other chemicals. Because no chemicals are used, the treated water has no adverse effect on organisms that later consume it, as may be the case with other methods. UV radiation causes damage to the genetic structure of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, making them incapable of reproduction. The key disadvantages of UV disinfection are the need for frequent lamp maintenance and replacement and the need for a highly treated effluent to ensure that the target microorganisms are not shielded from the UV radiation (i.e., any solids present in the treated effluent may protect microorganisms from the UV light).
Ozone (O3) is generated by passing oxygen (O2) through a high voltage potential resulting in a third oxygen atom becoming attached and forming O3. Ozone is very unstable and reactive and oxidizes most organic material it comes in contact with, thereby destroying many pathogenic microorganisms. Ozone is considered to be safer than chlorine because, unlike chlorine which has to be stored on site (highly poisonous in the event of an accidental release), ozone is generated onsite as needed. Ozonation also produces fewer disinfection by-products than chlorination. A disadvantage of ozone disinfection is the high cost of the ozone generation equipment and the requirements for special operators.
Sludge treatment and disposal
The sludges accumulated in a wastewater treatment process must be treated and disposed of in a safe and effective manner. The purpose of digestion is to reduce the amount of organic matter and the number of disease-causing microorganisms present in the solids. The most common treatment options include anaerobic digestion, aerobic digestion, and composting.
Sludge treatment depends on the amount of solids generated and other site-specific conditions. Composting is most often applied to small-scale plants with aerobic digestion for midsized operations, and anaerobic digestion for the larger-scale operations.
Typically, sludges are thickened (dewatered) to reduce the volumes transported off-site for disposal. There is no process which completely eliminates the need to dispose of biosolids. The removed fluid, called "concentrate," is typically reintroduced into the wastewater process. The product which is left is called "cake," and that is picked up by companies which turn it into fertilizer pellets. This product is then sold to local farmers and turf farms as a soil amendment or fertilizer, reducing the amount of space required to dispose of sludge in landfills. Much sludge originating from commercial or industrial areas is contaminated with toxic materials that are released into the sewers from the industrial processes. Elevated concentrations of such materials may make the sludge unsuitable for agricultural use and it may then have to be incinerated or disposed of to landfill.
Domestic wastewater from Call Centers, MNC’s, Institutes, Colleges, Govt. /Non-Govt. organizations, Corporate offices, Manufacturing industries and other private sectors etc.