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Industrial Effluent

Home Domain Functional Sectors Industrial Effluent

One of the major reasons for the diminishing water quality is due to industrial effluents released to the water bodies, which in turn causes significant effect to the marine vertebrates and invertebrates as well as to the human health.

Industrial processes generate natural and synthetic organic chemicals while sewage discharge contains organic substances such as carbohydrates, lignin, fats, soap, synthetic detergents and proteins. The presence of inorganic substances including a number of potentially toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, zinc and others resulting from domestic and industrial sources may also contribute to the unfavorable effect towards the quality of the water. Also, the effluents generated from the industries contain high COD, BOD and pH. Therefore it is necessary for Effluent Treatment Plants to maintain their COD and other parameters of their effluent to meet specifications decided by regulatory board. The lists of major polluting industrial sector are shown below:

Sr. No.





F-, PO4-3, NH4+-N, NO3--N


Leather tanneries

BOD, COD, colour, TDS, chromium


Dyes and intermediates

COD, colour






COD, toxic organics


Pulp and paper

BOD, COD, colour


Sugar and distilleries

TDS, BOD, COD, colour


Pesticides and insecticides

COD, toxicants


Coke ovens

COD, phenols, CN-/CNS-, NH4+-N, toxicants


Chemical industry

BOD,COD, toxicants


Caustic soda

Incinerator performance, VOC





Copper melting

SO2 emissions, sludge disposal


Oil refinery

SO2 emissions, sludge disposal, VOC


Thermal power plants

BOD, COD, heavy metals


Zinc melting

BOD, COD, SO2 emissions



BOD, COD, color, lagoon discharge.


Effluent Treatment Process:

There are numerous processes that can be used to treat effluent depending on the type and extent of contamination. This effluent can be treated by Effluent Treatment Plant which may include physical, chemical and biological treatment processes. The most important aerobic treatment system is the activated sludge process which is based on the maintenance and recirculation of a complex biomass composed by micro-organisms which are able to absorb and adsorb the organic matter carried in the wastewater. Anaerobic processes are widely applied in the treatment of industrial wastewaters and biological sludge. Modern systems include tertiary treatment by micro filtration or synthetic membranes. After membrane filtration, the treated wastewater is indistinguishable from waters of natural origin of drinking quality. Disposal of wastewaters from an industrial plant is a difficult and costly problem. Most petroleum refineries, chemical and petrochemical plants have onsite facilities to treat their wastewaters so that the pollutant concentrations in the treated effluent comply with the local and/or national regulations regarding disposal of wastewaters into community treatment plants or into rivers, lakes or oceans. Nowadays, due to the increasing presence of molecules, refractory to the microorganisms in the wastewater streams, the conventional biological methods cannot be used for complete treatment of the effluent and hence, introduction of newer technologies to degrade these refractory molecules into smaller molecules, which can be further oxidized by biological methods, has become imperative. Typical effluent treatment method is as shown below:

Effluent Treatment Plant

Treatment level of wastewater:

Treatment level



Removal of wastewater constituents such as rags, sticks, floatable, grit, and grease that may cause maintenance or operational problem with the treatment operations, processes, and ancillary system.


Removal of portion of the suspended solids and organic matter from the wastewater

Advanced primary

Enhanced removal of suspended solids and organic matter from the wastewater. Typically accomplished by chemical addition or filtration


Removal of biodegradable organic matter (in solution or suspension) and suspended solids.

Secondary with

nutrient removal

Removal of biodegradable organics, suspended solids, and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous)


Removal of residual suspended solids (after secondary treatment), usually by granular medium filtration or micro screens. Nutrient removal and disinfection is also the part of tertiary treatment


Removal of dissolved and suspended materials remaining after normal biological treatment when required for various water reuse applications

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