Until recently, the first step in wastewater treatment has been the removal of insoluble and dissolved contaminants by filtration and settling technologies. The addition of chemicals has been used to aid in the separation of solids from the fluid component of wastewater. The resulting solids or sludge is compressed by removing excess water and then transported to landfills for disposal.
After the initial removal of solids from wastewater, high concentrations of dissolved contaminants can remain. Dissolved organic contaminants can be removed by biological processes that result in the conversion of these contaminants to carbon dioxide and other gases, water, and biomass. Loss of gases effectively reduces total dissolved solids, yet the resulting biomass, due to the proliferation of microorganisms, becomes yet another form of waste solids requiring treatment.
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