Document Type: Full article
This paper presents the results of an investigation into the treatment of Tehran Refinery effluents in UASB reactors. Four pilot-scale UASB reactors were built with similar dimensions, each with a volume of 45.78 1, and operated in parallel at 37 °C. The sludge seed was prepared from the waste activated sludge of the wastewater treatment unit of the refinery. The organic loading rates were gradually increased from 0.05-0.1 kg COD/m3.d to about 2, 1.5, 0.5 and 1.5 kg COD/m3.d for reactors 1 to 4, respectively, at an influent COD of about 220 mg/l. This is in accordance with hydraulic retention times of 2.5, 4.5 and 8.5 hours for reactors 1 to 3 and 4.5 hours for reactor 4. Methanol was initially added to the reactors in order to increase the microbial activity of the sludge, except for the last one, in order to compare the effect of methanol on start-up. The addition of methanol was stopped after 37 days and the reactors were operated for another 30 days. At this stage, the influent COD was varied between 50-300 mg/l. The results show that the COD removal efficiencies of the reactors are around 30-50%. However, when the influent COD increases above 200 mg/l, the COD removal efficiencies increase up to 70%. It is found that methanol has no significant effect in shortening the start-up period in this case. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) examination and image analysis of the granules of sludge were also performed in order to investigate the structure of granules and the size distribution. Analysis of the biogas shows more than 90% methane content. The results obtained in this research are promising for the anaerobic treatment of refinery wastewaters in UASB reactors.