A paper mill producing 500,000 ton of graphic paper annually has an onsite wastewater treatment plant that treats 7,240,000 m3 of wastewater per year, mechanically first, then biologically and at last by ozonation. Increased paper production capacity led to higher COD load in the mill effluent while production of higher proportions of brighter products gave worse biodegradability. Therefore the biological capacity of the WWTP needed to be increased and extra measures were necessary to enhance the efficiency of COD reduction. The full scale implementation of one MBBR with a volume of 1,230 m3 was accomplished in 2000 followed by another MBBR of 2,475 m3 in 2002. An ozonation step with a capacity of 75 kg O3/h was added in 2004 to meet higher COD reduction demands during the production of brighter products and thus keeping the given outflow limits. Adding a moving bed biofilm reactor prior to the existing activated sludge step gives: (i) cost advantages when increasing biological capacity as higher COD volume loads of MBBRs allow smaller reactors than usual for activated sludge plants; (ii) a relief of strain from the activated sludge step by biological degradation in the MBBR; (iii) equalizing of peaks in the COD load and toxic effects before affecting the activated sludge step; (iv) a stable volume sludge index below 100 ml/g in combination with an optimization of the activated sludge step allows good sludge separation—an important condition for further treatment with ozone. Ozonation and subsequent bio-filtration pre-treated waste water provide: (i) reduction of hard COD unobtainable by conventional treatment; (ii) controllable COD reduction in a very wide range and therefore elimination of COD-peaks; (iii) reduction of treatment costs by combination of ozonation and subsequent bio-filtration; (iv) decrease of the color in the ozonated wastewater. The MBBR step proved very simple to operate as part of the biological treatment. Excellent control of the COD-removal rate in the ozone step allowed for economical usage and therefore acceptable operation costs in relation to the paper production.
Keywords: advanced treatment, biofiltration, COD reduction, hard COD, moving bed biofilm reactor, MBBR, ozone, upgrading of activated sludge wastewater treatment plants