Treatment of Landfill leachates using anion exchange resins

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Virginia Tech


Landfill leachates are often discharged to wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) but their highly varied composition makes their treatment in WWTPs difficult. Landfill leachates contain bio-refractory organic matter which easily passes the biological treatment processes at WWTPs and increases the organic matter in the effluent. Leachates also interfere with the UV disinfection process at treatment plants. Another concern is the presence of large amounts of bio-refractory organic nitrogen in the leachates which makes it difficult for WWTPs to meet the tightening total nitrogen requirements.

Studies were conducted to evaluate the applicability of anion exchange resins to remove organic matter, UV quenching substance and organic nitrogen from landfill leachates. Leachate samples based on varying age and treatment methods were utilized. The anion exchange resins were found to work effectively for all studied leachates. The resins were found to remove more bio-refractory UV absorbing substances as compared to total organic carbon (TOC), suggesting that anion exchange resins could be employed for removal of UV absorbing substances. Multiple regenerations of the resin showed slight loss in the capacity to remove UV and organic carbon. Fractionation of leachate samples showed effective removal of humic acid (HA) fraction which is responsible for most of UV quenching. The resin was also found to effectively remove the bio-refractory hydrophilic (Hpi) fraction which tends to persist even after HA fraction has bio-degraded. Membrane filtration (1000 Da and 3000 Da Molecular weight cut off) in conjunction with ion exchange resins achieved better removal of organic matter and UV254 absorbing substances. In addition, this also significantly improved the performance of resins. Significant removal of organic nitrogen was also observed using anion exchange though it was less than both UV and TOC. Around 80% removal of organic nitrogen associated with bio-refractory Hpi fraction was achieved using anion exchange suggesting ion exchange as a viable alternative for removing organic nitrogen.



Landfill leachates, Ion Exchange treatment, Anion exchange resins, characterization, membrane treatment, organic carbon