Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 4111–4117 | Cite as

Predominance of Attached Versus Suspended Growth in a Mixed-Growth, Continuous-Flow Biological Reactor Treating Primary-Treated Petrochemical Wastewater

  • Mohd Elmuntasir AhmedEmail author
  • Ayyad Al-Dhafeeri
  • Andrzej Mydlarczyk
Research Article - Civil Engineering


In this study, a laboratory-scale continuous-flow, mixed-growth biological treatment process, based on the integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS) process, was configured using granular activated carbon as the attached-growth media. With potential to degrade target organics, the application of this process for treating the petrochemical industry wastewater may provide a flexible, more efficient, and inexpensive replacement for the activated sludge and other biological treatment processes. The laboratory-scale IFAS configuration was experimented to evaluate the process ability to enhance the biodegradation process utilizing both suspended growth and attached growth, to evaluate its ability to remove nitrogen and phosphorous, and to identify conditions of predominance of attached versus suspended growth. Ratios of attached to suspended growth reached 3 at steady-state conditions; the laboratory-scale flow-through column reached a steady-state operation in 1–2 h, promising smaller tank volumes on a large-scale application. The organics’ removal rates were found to be sensitive to higher initial concentrations and higher hydraulic loading within the range tested in this work. However, nitrogen and phosphorous removal rates were low, and it was mainly attributed to the low total phosphorous-to-chemical oxygen demand ratio representing the bottleneck for upscaling this process.


Industrial wastewater treatment Petrochemical wastewater Mixed-growth biological processes Hybrid biological processes Integrated film attached-growth processes 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Tiku, S.: Wastewater management in the petrochemicals industry. Water World 5(3), 7–10 (2005)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chang, H.T.; Parulekar, S.J.; Ahmed, M.: A dual-growth kinetic model for biological wastewater reactors. Biotechnol. Prog. 21(2), 423–31 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rittman, B.; McCarty, P.: Environmental Biotechnology: Principles and Applications. McGraw-Hill Science Engineering, New York (2001)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Randall, C.W.; Sen, D.: Full-scale evaluation of an integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS) process for enhanced nitrogen removal. Water Sci. Technol. 33(12), 155 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coelho, A.; Castro, V.A.; Dezotti, M.; Santa’ Anna Jr., G.L.: Treatment of petroleum refinery wastewater by advanced oxidation processes. J. Hazard. Mater. B 137(1), 178–184 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Andreottola, G.; Foladori, P.; Gatti, G.; Nardelli, P.; Pettena, M.; Ragazzi, M.: Upgrading of a small overloaded activated sludge plant using a MBBR system. J. Environ. Sci. Health Part A: Toxic Hazard Subst. Environ. Eng. 38(10), 2317–28 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sarkar, S.; Mazumder, D.: Feasibility of hybrid bioreactor in the treatment of wastewater containing slowly biodegradable substances. Int. J. Environ. Sci. 5(2), 383–400 (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wei, X.; Li, B.; Zhao, S.; Wang, L.; Zhang, H.; Li, C.; Wang, S.: Mixed pharmaceutical wastewater treatment by integrated membrane-aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) system: a pilot-scale study. Bio-Resour. Technol. 122, 189–195 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Alsalhy, Q.F.; Almukhtar, R.S.; Harith, A.A.: Oil refinery wastewater treatment by using membrane bioreactor (MBR). Arab. J. Sci. Eng. 41, 2439–2452 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sriwiriyarat, T.: Mathematical modeling and evaluation of IFAS wastewater treatment process for biological nitrogen and phosphorous removal. Dissertation. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wang, J.L.; Wu, L.B.: Wastewater treatment in a hybrid biological reactor (HBR): nitrification characteristics. Biomed. Environ. Sci. 17(3), 373–379 (2004)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bai, Y.; Quan, X.; Zhang, Y.; Chen, S.: Enhancing nitrogen and phosphorus removal in the BUCT-IFAS process by bypass flow strategy. Water Sci. Technol. 72(4), 528–533 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dold, P.L.: Current practice for treatment of petroleum refinery wastewater and toxic removal. Water Qual. Res. Can. 24, 363–390 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Harvey, G.; Hasibul, H.; Dipesh, D.; Charles, M.; Yung-Tse, H.: Biofilm fixed film systems. Water 3, 843–868 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Humphrey, W.J.; Witt, E.R.: Biological Treatment of High Strength Petrochemical Wastewater. United States Environmental Protection Authority, USA (1979)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ishak, S.; Malakahmad, A.; Isa, M.H.: Refinery wastewater biological treatment: a short review. J. Sci. Ind. Res. 71, 251–256 (2012)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jianlong, W.; Hanchang, S.; Yi, Q.: Wastewater treatment in a hybrid biological reactor (HBR): effect of organic loading rates. Process Biochem. 36(4), 297–303 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Khaing, T.H.; Li, J.; Li, Y.; Wai, N.; Wong, F.S.: Feasibility study on petrochemical wastewater treatment and reuse using a novel submerged membrane distillation bioreactor. Sep. Purif. Technol. 74(1), 138–143 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lu, M.; Gu, L.P.; Xu, W.H.: Treatment of petroleum refinery wastewater using a sequential anaerobic–aerobic moving-bed biofilm reactor system based on suspended ceramsite. Water Sci. Technol. 67(9), 1976–8 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ma, F.; Guo, J.B.; Zhao, L.J.; Chang, C.C.; Cui, D.: Application of bio augmentation to improve the activated sludge system into the contact oxidation system treating petrochemical wastewater. Bioresour. Technol. 100(2), 597–602 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    BRENTWOOD. Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) Technology. Brentwood Industries, Inc., Reading (2009)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Butler, C.: Biofilm processes and control in water and wastewater treatment. In: Comprehensive Water Quality and Purification, Wastewater Treatment and Reuse. Edited by Elsevier, The Netherlands 3, 90–107 (2014)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    APHA: Standard Methods for Examination of Water and Wastewater. American Public Health Association, Washington, DC (2012)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Pavissich, J.P.; Aybar, M.; Martin, K.J.; Nerenberg, R.: A methodology to assess the effects of biofilm roughness on substrate fluxes using image analysis, substrate profiling, and mathematical modeling. Water Sci. Technol. 69(9), 1932–41 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lin, H.L.; Tsao, H.W.; Huang, Y.W.; Wang, Y.C.; Yang, K.H.; Yang, Y.F.; Wang, W.C.; Wen, C.K.; Chen, S.K.; Cheng, S.S.: Removal of nitrogen from secondary effluent of a petrochemical industrial park by a hybrid biofilm-carrier reactor with one-stage ANAMMOX. Water Sci. Technol. 69(12), 2526–32 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Kim, Y.; Park, D.; Lee, D.; Park, J.: Inhibitory effects of toxic compounds on nitrification process for cokes wastewater treatment. J. Hazard. Mater. 152(3), 915–921 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Metcalf, E.; Eddy, M.: Wastewater Engineering: Treatment and Resource Recovery. McGraw-Hill, NY (2014)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ahmed, M.; Mydlarczyk, A.; Abusam, A.: Kinetic modeling of GAC-IFAS chemostat for petrochemical wastewater treatment. J. Water Resour. Hydraul. Eng. 6(2), 27–33 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Research CenterKuwait Institute for Scientific ResearchSafatKuwait

Personalised recommendations