Biological and physical treatment of crab processing industry wastewaters

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Virginia Tech


The crab processing industry of the Chesapeake Bay region has, until recently, been able to dispose of their processing wastewaters by discharging them, largely untreated, directly to the receiving waters along which their plants are located. With the upcoming implementation of new NPDES discharge limits, this practice will no longer be possible.

This study investigated the potential of two different technologies for treating the processing wastewaters. Bench-scale anaerobic contact type reactors were studied for effectiveness in the removal of organics from the processor’s wastewaters, and a pilot-scale countercurrent air stripping tower was studied for ammonia removal.

Two anaerobic reactors which were fed retort process wastewater at F/M ratios of 0.35 and 0.25 lb COD/1b MLVSS/day, were found to achieve organics removals (on a BOD₅ basis) of 88% and 94% respectively. Similarly, a second pair of anaerobic reactors were fed a mixed wastewater, representative of a mechanized processing plant’s total wastewater flow, at F/M ratios of 0.10 and 0.07 lb COD/1b MLVSS/day. These reactors were found to achieve organics removals (on a BOD₅ basis) of 79% and 83% respectively. All four of the reactors were eventually shut down after exhibiting signs of failure. These failures were attributed to possible sodium and ammonia toxicity problems.

The effectiveness of the air stripping tower in the removal of ammonia from retort process wastewater was tested in relation to liquid flow rate, influent temperature, and influent pH. A maximum ammonia removal of 71% was observed when treating a waste, with an influent temperature of 580C and pH level of 12.2, at an air-to-water ratio of approximately 825 ft³/gal. Similarly, an ammonia removal rate of 67% was observed while treating a waste, with an influent temperature of 650°C and pH level of 11.0, at an air-to-water ratio of approximately 412 ft³/gal.