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Bioresource Technology 100 (2009) 25342539

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Bioresource Technology
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Thermophilic treatment of bulk drug pharmaceutical industrial wastewaters by


using hybrid up ow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor
D. Sreekanth a, D. Sivaramakrishna a, V. Himabindu a,*, Y. Anjaneyulu b
a
b

Centre for Environment, Institute of Science and Technology, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kukatpally, Hyderabad 500 085, Andhra Pradesh, India
TLGVRC, JSU Box 18739, JSU, Jackson, MS 32917-0939, USA

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 14 August 2008
Received in revised form 14 November 2008
Accepted 14 November 2008
Available online 8 January 2009
Keywords:
Pharmaceutical wastewater
UASB
Organic loading rate
HRT
Thermophilic treatment

a b s t r a c t
The hybrid up ow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor was evaluated for efcacy in reduction of chemical
oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewater
under different operational conditions. The start-up of the reactor feed came entirely with glucose,
applied at an organic loading rate (OLR) 1 kg COD/m3 d. Then the reactor was studied at different OLRs
ranging from 2 to 11 kg COD/m3 d with pharmaceutical wastewater. The optimum OLR was found to
be 9 kg COD/m3 d, where we found 6575% COD and 8094% of BOD reduction with biogas production
containing 6070% of methane and specic methanogenic activity was 320 ml CH4/g-VSS d. By the characterization studies of efuent using GCMS, the hazardous compounds like phenol, l,2-methoxy phenol,
2,4,6-trichloro phenol, dibutyl phthalate, 1-bromo naphthalene, carbamazepine and antipyrine were
present. After the treatment, these compounds degraded almost completely except carbamazepine. Thermophilic methanothrix and methanosaetae like bacteria are present in the granular sludge.
2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The pharmaceutical wastewaters contain a variety of organic
and inorganic constituents including spent solvents, catalysts, additives, reactants and small amounts of intermediates and products,
and may therefore be high in chemical oxygen demand (COD) (Fent
et al., 2006; Oktem et al., 2007). It is estimated that approximately
half of the pharmaceutical wastewaters produced worldwide are
discarded without specic treatment (Enick and Moore, 2007).
Pharmaceutical wastewater has traditionally been treated using
physico-chemical (Kulik et al., 2008) and aerobic biological processes (Suman Raj and Anjaneyulu, 2005). Recently there are specic studies reporting the application of anaerobic technology for
the treatment of Bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewaters (Chen
et al., 2008; Gangagni Rao et al., 2005; Chelliapan et al., 2006). However, the high COD concentration in such pharmaceutical wastewaters makes them potential candidates for anaerobic technology
(Chelliapan et al., 2006). The anaerobic process is very much favorable for high strength wastewater, where aerobic oxidation of organic matter would result in high-energy consumption and
production of huge quantities of sludge. The most important merits
of anaerobic treatment are the ability to treat high strength wastes,
low energy input, low sludge yield, low nutrient requirement, low
operating cost, low space requirement and net benet of energy
* Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +91 040 23156133.
E-mail addresses: vurimindihimabindu@yahoo.com, sri_jntures@yahoo.co.in (V.
Himabindu).
0960-8524/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2008.11.028

generation in the form of biogas (Acharya et al., 2008; Lefebvre


et al., 2006; Mahmoud, 2008). Modern anaerobic processes used
for high rate reactors such as the UASB or AF have been applied to
the treatment of a wide variety of industrial wastewaters with a
high soluble COD content, including paper-pulp liquors (Ahn and
Forster, 2002; Elliott and Mahmood, 2007), spent sulphide liquors
(Jantsch et al., 2002), and those from the food industry (Berardino
et al., 2000; Stabnikova et al., 2008). Hybrid UASB reactors have
been successfully applied to the partial treatment of berboard
manufacturing wastewaters (Fernandez et al., 2001) and slaughterhouse efuent (Torkian et al., 2003). The hybrid UASB reactors
could also become a preferred option for certain bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewaters due to several operational advantages over
other reactor congurations. Reported studies in anaerobic treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater refer mostly to the use of upow anaerobic stage reactor and anaerobic suspended lm
reactors (Chelliapan et al., 2006; Mohan et al., 2001). Publications
on the application of hybrid reactors to the treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater containing organic solvents are limited (Oktem
et al., 2007). No study was carried out on the thermophilic treatment of bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewater by using hybrid
UASB reactor, therefore the suitability of using this type of reactor
conguration for treatment of bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewaters justies further investigation under thermophilic condition.
Thermophilic process offers several merits, such as an increased
degradation rate for organic solids, a high gas production rate, improved solid liquid separation, increased disinfection of pathogenic
organisms and eliminating the need of cooling for efuent of high

D. Sreekanth et al. / Bioresource Technology 100 (2009) 25342539

temperature (Park et al., 2008). Thus, it is of practical interest to


evaluate the performance of anaerobic treatment of bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewater under thermophilic conditions.
The specic objectives include:
 Investigating the performance of the reactor at different organic
loading rates.
 Investigating the performance of the reactor under shock
loading.
 Morphological examination of granular sludge treating bulk
drug pharmaceutical wastewater.

2. Methods
2.1. Experimental setup
Lab scale experiments were conducted in lab scale HUASB reactor of 17 l capacity. The reactor is a circular column with a length of
90 cm, internal diameter of 10 cm and wall thickness of 2 mm. The
reactor was provided with hopper bottom. Four sampling ports are
provided along its length at equal distance. Inlet end opens towards the bottom of the reactor, so the feed strikes at the bottom.
An outlet was provided at the top, which is connected to the efuent tank. On the top of the reactor a gas solid separator is provided
to separate gas and solid raised due to the upward movement of
the feed. The gas outlet was connected through rubber tubing to
the liquid displacement system to measure the gas production.
The amount of gas produced is directly proportional to the amount
of liquid displaced and hence gas produced can be measured at
regular intervals of time. A lter media made up of PVC rings
was provided at the middle of the reactor. The reactors were operated at thermophilic temperature (55 3 C) by a water-jacket.
Heated water was pumped from a recirculation water bath through
the constant temperature jacket surrounding the reactor. Synthetic
wastewater comprising substrates, glucose, plus balanced nutrients and alkalinity was used to feed the reactor using a peristaltic
pump.
2.2. Wastewater source and characterization
The wastewater for this study was obtained from a local bulk
drug pharmaceutical unit in Hyderabad, from which the main
product was terbinane hydrochloride and characterized using
standard methods (APHA, 2000). The characteristics of bulk drug
pharmaceutical wastewater used for the study were (mg/l): colour
(orange), total dissolved solids (85009000), total suspended solids
(28003000), COD (13,00015,000), BOD (70007500), volatile
fatty acids (600750), alkalinity as CaCO3 (25003000), chlorides
(200250), nitrates (120170), sulphates (300450), phosphates
(100120), phenol (2530), 2-methoxy phenol (2025), 2,4,6-trichloro phenol (2025), dibutyl phthalate (3040), 1-bromo naphthalene (510), antipyrene (510) and carbamazepine (1015).
The pH of the bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewater was 7.07.5.
The BOD: COD ratio of the wastewaters was in the range 0.45
0.6, which is amenable to biological treatment. All the chemicals
used were of analytical reagent grade. Water used in all the experiments was laboratory distilled water with pH (7.28.0), Alkalinity
(40120 mg/l), chlorides (2030 mg/l). Tap water from a ground
water source is used for the dilution of raw efuent.
2.3. Inoculum
The inoculum for seeding the reactor was brought from a fullscale UASB reactor, which was in use for treatment of wastewater

2535

from a slaughterhouse. The sludge was initially passed through a


0.2 mm screen to remove the foreign material. Sludge (6.0 l) was
added to the reactor. The volatile suspended solids (VSSs) of the
inoculum was 28.86 g/l and the methanogenic activity was found
to be 120.8 ml-CH4/g-VSS d. The sludge was acclimatized for three
weeks using pharmaceutical waste water from bulk drug pharmaceutical industry under anaerobic conditions. After acclimatization,
the VSS of the sludge increased to 35.69 g/l and methanogenic
activity raised to 132.0 ml-CH4/g-VSS d, and same was inoculated.
2.4. Analytical methods
Analysis of alkalinity, phosphates, sulphates, BOD, ash content
of the sludge, sludge volume index (SVI), chlorides, total suspended
solids (TSS), nitrates and COD were conducted in accordance with
Standard Method (APHA, 2000). Gas production was measured by
the displacement of 0.1 N H2SO4 solution. Oxidation-reduction potential was monitored by using ORP meter (Model 108, Orion,
USA). The biogas composition was estimated using a gas chromatograph (AIMIL-NUCON Series 7500, New Delhi, India) tted with a
thermal conductivity detector (TCD) and Poropak Q stainless steel
column. The oven, injector, and detector temperatures were set as
40, 60 and 60 C, respectively and nitrogen was used as the carrier
gas. Volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration was measured after
centrifuging the samples to remove the suspended solids. A gas
chromatography (AIMIL-NUCON, India, Series 7500) equipped with
a ame ionization detector (FID) and Chromasorb 101 column was
used for the analysis of VFA. The detector, injector and oven temperature were 200, 195 and 180 C, respectively. The carrier gas
used was nitrogen, and a mixture of hydrogen and air was used
to sustain the ame in the detector. Image analysis system (Leica,
Germany) was employed to determine the size of the granules.
Scanning electron microscope (SEM) (Model: JOEL-JSM 5600) was
employed to study the morphology of the granules. Specimen
preparation for SEM included xation with 5% glutaraldehyde
and 1% osmium tetroxide, followed by dehydration with 50
100% acetone before drying. Finally, a thin layer of gold metal
was applied over the sample using an automated sputter coater
(JEOL JFC-1600) for about 3 min. The samples were nally scanned
at various magnications. The hazardous compounds were identied by acidifying aqueous samples to pH < 2, extracting the compounds with dichloromethane, ltering using a MDI Teon
syringe lters (SY25NN, 0.2 lm pore size) and injecting 1 ll of
the ltrate into a gas chromatograph (6890 N, Agilent) with a mass
selective detector (5973). A HP 5 MS, capillary column, (0.25 mm,
30 m, 0.25 lm), was used for sample elution. All the experiments
were carried out in triplicates and the values presented in this paper are a mean of three readings for reproducibility of the results.
2.5. Specic methanogenic activity of granules
Specic methanogenic activity (SMA) of granules was carried
out in 250 ml asks. The granules were incubated three days to remove residual substrates, then washed with phosphate buffer solution (1.28 g Na2HPO4/l and 0.42 g Na2HPO4/l) in order to remove
additional residual substrates and, used for the activity test. The
granule samples of 2.2 g in volatile suspended solids were transferred to asks containing nutrient medium and incubated without
agitation further 12 h at 35 3 C in a dark room. Then, glucose
solution was added (3000 mg/l as COD) and ushed with N2 for
5 min and incubated at 35 3 C. The gas produced was measured
at 1 h intervals by liquid displacement method. After each gas
measurement, the asks were manually shaken. Specic methanogenic activity of granules was determined by taking the slope of
the graph drawn by methane production (cumulative) against time
and expressed as CH4 l/g-VSS d (Somasiri et al., 2008).

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D. Sreekanth et al. / Bioresource Technology 100 (2009) 25342539

2.6. Start-up of hybrid UASB reactor


The start-up period of an anaerobic hybrid UASB reactor is directly proportional to the concentration of the microbial population. Rate of start-up depends on the type of inoculum, the type
and strength of waste, level of volatile acids maintained. (Nandy
and Kaul, 2001). Normally reactors are started by acclimatizing
the biomass with glucose (Kasapgil et al., 2002). Glucose is a readily degradable, soluble carbohydrate that does not, itself, limit the
rate of anaerobic biodegradation. It produces readily measurable
intermediary metabolites in anaerobic digestion, and is commonly
used as a carbonaceous substrate in many experimental studies
(Oktem et al., 2007). Glucose was, therefore, used as a substrate
during the initial acclimation phase of this study, and during the
latter stages of which it was gradually replaced with pharmaceutical wastewater. Anaerobic seed culture (6.0 l) collected from the
(UASB) anaerobic digester of slaughter house (ALKABEER Industry,
Hyderabad) was used for the inoculation in UASB reactor. The concentration of volatile suspended solid (VSS) and suspended solid
(SS) in the sludge blanket of UASB reactor was 19.93 kg VSS/m3
and 28 kg VSS/m3, respectively during inoculation. The reactor
was operated in a continuous mode of operation. The feed composition of the HUASB reactor was as follows: glucose 1.0 g/l, NH4Cl
800 mg/l, KH2PO4 200 mg/l, CaCl2  H2O 48 mg/l, FeSO4  7H2O
40 mg/l, H3BO3 0.1 mg/l, ZnCl2 0.1 mg/l, CuCl2 0.1 mg/l,
MnSO4  4H2O 0.1 mg/l, AlCl3 0.1 mg/l, NiCl2 0.1 mg/l, NaHCO3
3000 mg/l, trace metal solution 1 ml/l. The composition of trace
metal solution was as follows: 5 g Mg SO4  7H2O, 6 g FeCl2  4H2O,
0.88 g CoCl2  4H2O, 0.1 g H3BO3, 0.1 g ZnSO4  7H2O, 0.05 g CuSO4  5H2O, 1 g NiSO4  8H2O, 5 g MnCl2. 4H2O and 0.64 g (NH4)
6Mo7O24  4H2O (Chelliapan et al., 2006). One millilitre of the stock
trace metal solution was added per litre of feed. COD:N:P ratio was
maintained around 300:5:1 (Sreekanth et al., 2008). The COD and
BOD reduction is found to be in the range of 3560% and 56
80%, respectively, during the start-up phase. The pH of the reactor
feed is always maintained neutral by adding necessary amount of
orthophosphoric acid. The outlet pH is found to be in the range
of 7.57.6 indicated an active metabolism of the methanogens.
The best operation of anaerobic reactors can be expected when
the pH is maintained near neutrality (Rajeswari et al., 2000). The
native anaerobic biomass responded very well by yielding biogas
of 0.25 m3/kg COD removed which consisted of 5862% methane.
This indicates satisfactory start-up of the reactor. High bulk liquid
organic loading and the start-up with high inoculum seed (VSS of
35.69 g/l and methanogenic activity of 132.0 ml-CH4/g-VSS d) resulted in good microbial growth. During this period the HRT was
1.5 days.

the reactor performance for a short period after initial loading. This
may be an indication to the increase in the substrate concentration,
which requires sufcient acclimatization period for native micro
ora to nurture to the changed environmental conditions of the
system. From the data, we can assess that the period required for
acclimatization is directly related to the OLR. The performance of
the reactor at various OLR levels were consolidated and presented
in Fig. 2. During the reactor operation there was a reduction in COD
and BOD levels up to 4766% and 8386%, respectively. It is evident from the table that increment in loading rate has shown gradual increment in substrate removal rate up to 10 kg COD/m3 d and
subsequently substrate removal rate dropped, indicating the inhibition of the biomass activity at that concentration. It explains that
the designed reactor can be operated up to 10 kg COD/m3 d without system inhibition and subsequent increase in OLR lead to
reduction in overall process efciency. Throughout the reactor
operation biogas production and a consistent value in the range
of 0.30.5 ml/mg COD reduction was observed irrespective of the
operated OLR. In the present study, ORP values are varied between
35 and 61. The anaerobic bacteria function best between ORP
values of +30 mV and 400 mV (Reddy et al., 1995). On analysis
of biogas, we observed gases in varying composition among them
most abundant are in range of 6570% methane and 3035% CO2.
Hydraulic retention time (HRT) considerably affects biogas composition, and in the present study a HRT of 1.7 days is found to be
optimum to retard the CO2 toxicity with relatively uniform CO2
content (3035%) at all the studied OLR. These values are similar
to that of Gangagni Rao et al. (2005), where they treated the bulk

Fig. 1. Performance of the hybrid UASB reactor for the removal of COD and BOD
during the period of operation.

3. Results and discussion


3.1. Performance of the HUASB reactor at different OLRs
The reactor operated with higher organic loading rates after
attaining a consistent stable carbon removal condition at OLR of
1 kg COD/m3 d to assess the optimum loading rate during process
optimization. The OLR was gradually improved to 2 kg COD/m3 d
at which point the feed to the UASB reactor was progressively replaced with pharmaceutical wastewater. The reactor performance
was evaluated up to 12 kg COD/m3 d at an increment of
1.0 kg COD/m3 d OLR. At each loading rate, the reactor was operated until a steady state reached as indicated by a constant gas production rate (5%) and efuent COD level (8%). The performance
of the reactor with varying loading rates, function of COD and
BOD removal at were explained in Fig. 1. It was evident from the
gure that every incremental step in OLR marked an inhibition in

Fig. 2. Performance of hybrid UASB reactor at various organic loading rates.

D. Sreekanth et al. / Bioresource Technology 100 (2009) 25342539

drug industry wastewater by using xed lm reactor (AFFR). An


optimum OLR of 9 kg COD/m3 d was achieved (Fig. 3) in the present study which is comparable to the results obtained by Kasapgil
et al. (2002). The VFA concentration in efuent was explained. The
VFA concentration was varied from 150 to 400 mg/l as acetic acid
at OLRs ranging from 1 to 11 kg COD/m3 d, respectively, indicating
no loss of methanogenic potential and a satisfactory balance between acidogenic, aetogenic and methanogenic microorganisms
in the mixed biomass. When the OLR was increased suddenly from
2 to 5 kg COD/m3 d, the VFA concentration also increased from 400
to 2500 mg/l as acetic acid, indicating methanogenic inhibition towards toxicity of bulk drug industrial efuents. At this stage, the
fall in the pH to 6.5 was observed, which might be due to the increase of the VFA concentration. When the reactor was switched
back to 1 kg COD/m3 d, the VFA concentration decreased signicantly to 395 mg/l. Fig. 4 indicates that the same condition was repeated when the OLR was increased to 913 kg COD/m3 d. Similar
values reported by Oktem et al. (2007). The specic methanogenic
activity (SMA) values at different organic loading rates are shown
in Fig. 4. The SMA values were varied from 280 to 356 ml-CH4/gVSS d at OLRs ranging from 1 to 11 kg COD/m3 d, respectively.
However, when OLR was increased suddenly from 2 to 5 kg COD/
m3 d, the SMA drastically decreased from 356 to 90 ml-CH4/gVSS d and again increased to 250 ml CH4/g-VSS d, when the reactor
was switched to 2 kg COD/m3 d. Fig. 4 indicates that the same condition was repeated when the OLR was increased to 913 kg COD/
m3 d and again the reactor reached to steady state conditions,
when the OLR was decreased to 9 kg COD/m3 d.
In the present study slight sulphate reduction was observed
through out the study .The initial sulphate concentration is

2537

450 mg/l present in the efuent, after treatment the sulphate concentration was reduced to 250 mg/l. The efuent was characterized
for hazardous compounds before and after treatment using GC
MS. From the characterization studies using GCMS, the hazardous
compounds identied in the efuent were phenol, 2-methoxy phenol, 2,4,6-trichloro phenol, dibutyl phthalate, 1-bromo naphthalene and antipyrine. After the treatment these hazardous
compounds degraded almost completely except carbamazepine
was not degraded (Clara et al., 2004; Carballa et al., 2006).
3.2. Performance of the reactor under shock loading
In the present study, organic shock load tests were carried out
to assess the reactor stability at two stable OLR (Table 1). The reactor is stabilized at 1.0 COD/m3 d and the OLR is increased to
5 kg COD m3 d to observe the reactor performance for organic
shock loading. It can be observed from the table that due to organic
shock loading, the reactor performance signicantly dropped with
respect to carbon removal and specic methanogenic activity.
Therefore, again the OLR is brought back to 1.0 kg COD m3 d where
in the reactor performance is restored to normal stage. The reactor
is again subjected to organic shock loading of 13 kg COD m3 d
when the reactor is operating at stable OLR of 9 kg COD m3 d with
consistently steady state performance. In this case also reactor performance dropped with respect to carbon removal and is restored
when the organic loading is again decreased. It can be deduced
from the above results that reactor can withstand shock loads
and can be brought back to normalcy quickly during the operating
phase. This result is in agreement with the experiment undertaken
by Gangagni Rao et al. (2005), who exposed an anaerobic xed lm
reactor treating pharmaceutical wastewater to organic shock loads
and showed that the reactor performance dropped with respect to
carbon removal and was restored when the organic loading was
again decreased to normal stabilized OLR.
3.3. Characteristics of granular thermophilic sludge

Fig. 3. Optimization of organic loading rate in hybrid UASB reactor.

Fig. 4. Variation of VFA concentration and variation of SMA during the period of
operation.

At the end of the 200 days operation the granular sludge was taken from the bottom of the reactor for the measurement of its
characteristics using scanning electron microscope. It showed that
over all surface of the granules were rough and uneven. The visual
examination of granular biomass revealed a black colour with a
spherical shape. Large cavities were present on the surface. The
physico-chemical characteristics of granules were studied during
the start-up and steady state operation at various organic loading
rates. SVI of the sludge in the reactors decreased from a value of
1620 to 1112 mL/g SS in the entire reactor. The plausible reason
for the decrease in the SVI is the increased settleability of the
sludge due to the pelletization of sludge occurring in the reactor.
Increase in organic loading rate resulted in an increase in the
sludge bed height. The sludge bed height increased from 14% to
18% at 1 kg COD m3 d to about 3536% at 12 kg COD m3 d in the
reactor. The average size of the sludge granule before treatment
was found to be 0.20 mm in diameter and after the treatment
was found to be 1.8 mm. Ash content of the granules decreased
with increase in the organic loading. Ash content of the granules
decreased from 1520% at 1 kg COD m3 d to 1113% at
12 kg COD m3 d. The observed ash fraction in the sludge is in
agreement with the values reported earlier (Sreekanth et al.,
2008). There are different groups of bacteria belonging to different
shapes in anaerobic granules. According to Michael (2003), methanogens could be present as rod, curved, spiral and coccus or spherical forms and their growth pattern may be irregular clusters or
lamentous chains. In the present study SEM observations demonstrated that Methanosarcina like coccoides were present in abundance, where as methanothrix like bamboo shaped rods existed

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D. Sreekanth et al. / Bioresource Technology 100 (2009) 25342539

Table 1
Performance of UASB at different organic shock loadings.
Organic shock
loads

Inlet OLR
(kg COD/m3 d)

Shock load at
5 OLR

Outlet OLR
(kg COD/m3 d)

No. of days of operation


at each OLR

COD
reduction
(%)

Gas production per unit COD


reduced (ml/mg)

Specic methanogenic activity


(ml-CH4/g-VSS d)

2.0

0.7

65

0.4

356

5.0
2.0

4.0
0.8

5
7

20
60

0.2
0.4

90
350

9.0

2.6

71

0.4

345

13.0
9.0

10.0
2.5

5
5

23
72

0.2
0.4

85
350

Shock load at
9 OLR

to a far smaller extent. It is well known that the predominance of


methanothrix in granular sludge is most essential for the establishment of a high performance UASB process (Hulshoff Pol et al.,
1983). Although we attempted to induce the prevalence of methanothrix according to the start-up guideline proposed by Weigant
and Deman (1986), the bacterium did not become a predominant
methanogen in our thermophilic granules. Probably thermophilic
methanothrix is more sensitive to the refractory or toxic compounds in the bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewater than the thermophilic Methanosarcina (Rintala et al., 1993). The temperature
optimum for the growth of thermophilic Methanosarcina was reported to be in the range of 5058 C, while that for thermophilic
methanothrix ranged from 6065 C. Methanosaetae like bacteria
were also present in biomass.
3.4. Cost estimation
Cost estimation was done for a UASB reactor on the basis of
wastewater generation. The overall costs were represented by
the sum of the capital costs, the operating and maintenance costs.
For a full-scale system these costs strongly depend on the nature
and the concentrations of the pollutants, the ow rate of the efuent and the conguration of the reactor. An estimation of costs has
been made regarding the operating costs for the treatment process
used for the treatment of bulk drug pharmaceutical industrial
wastewaters. The operational costs were (US$/day): glucose (0.4),
electricity (1.8) and nutrients (0.4). The total estimated cost was
2.6 US$ for treating 50 m3/day bulk drug pharmaceutical industrial
wastewaters. This cost was very competitive when considering the
treated water for some potential reuse applications. This value was
nearly similar to that of our previous ndings for treating synthetic
wastewater containing phenolic compounds (Sreekanth et al.,
2008).
4. Conclusion
The anaerobic hybrid UASB reactor is an appropriate option for
the treatment of wastewater with high organic concentration such
as bulk drug pharmaceutical wastewater under thermophilic conditions. It provides efcient organic removal efciencies, even
when operated at high organic loading rates and under intermittent operation. Moreover, under stressed operating conditions,
such as organic overloads, the reactor shows quite stable performance. The capacity to handle overloading is an added advantage
for such an industrial application where both quantity and quality
of the wastewater vary widely due to continuous operations. Efcient performance of the reactor up to an OLR of 9 kg COD m3 d
is demonstrated, where 6575% COD and 8090% of BOD reduction
was observed. The reactor is found to withstand shock loads and is
reverted to normal performance with in 45 days. Biogas production is found to be close to the theoretical value and high COD
and BOD reductions could be achieved keeping the pH of the reac-

tor within the range. Scanning electron micrographs show that the
granules were composed of thermophilic Methanosarcina and
thermophilic methanothrix like bacteria.
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