Combined biological processing and microfiltration in the treatment of unhairing wastewater

Najwa Mlaik, Jalel Bouzid, Lassaad Belbahri, Stephen Woodward, Tahar Mechichi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: The unhairing step, a part of the beamhouse process, is particularly polluting, generating an alkaline wastewater with high concentrations of organic and inorganic matter. The aim of this study was to evaluate the treatment of this industrial wastewater using a combination of biological and microfiltration processes.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The performance of the activated sludge system (AS) was evaluated under varying organic loading rate (OLR) from 0.9 to 3.4 kg chemical oxygen demand (COD) m(-3) day(-1) and decreasing hydraulic retention time (HRT) from 3 to 1.6 days.

RESULTS: For an HRT of 3 days, the increase of OLR significantly affected the removal of organic matter. Therefore, the biological organic matter removal of unhairing wastewater decreased from 92% to 66% for COD and from 87 to 53% for biological oxygen demand (BOD(5)). GC-MS analyses showed that biological treatment of unhairing wastewater contributed to the removal of long chain fatty acids and their degradation products. Microfiltration of unhairing wastewater was performed using 0.2 µm pore-size membranes in tangential filtration. The highest removal efficiencies were obtained for bacteria (100%) and turbidity (98.4%) which confirmed the importance of the microfiltration step in treatment of unhairing wastewater. The result showed that the flux decay rate was greatest at the start of the microfiltration assay (90 L h(-1) m(2)), becoming 60.7 L h(-1) m(2) after 32 min.

CONCLUSION: This change indicated that fouling occurred rapidly once the membrane module was put into operation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Combined biological processing and microfiltration in the treatment of unhairing wastewater'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this