Abstract

As a first step of treatment of landfill leachates (total COD 1.43-3.81 g/l, total nitrogen 90-162 mg/l), a performance of laboratory UASB reactors has been investigated under mesophilic (30 oC), sub-mesophilic (20 oC) and psychrophilic (10 oC) conditions. Under hydraulic retention times (HRT) of around 0.3 days, when the average organic loading rates (OLR) were around 5 g COD/l/day, the total COD removal accounted for 81 % (on the average) with the effluent concentrations close to anaerobic biodegradability limit (0.25 g COD/l) for mesophilic and sub-mesophilic regimes. The psychrophilic treatment conducted under the average HRT of 0.34 days and the average OLR of 4.22 g COD/l/day showed a total COD removal of 47% giving the effluents (0.75 g COD/l) more suitable for subsequent biological nitrogen removal. All three anaerobic regimes used for leachate treatment were quite efficient for elimination of heavy metals (Fe, Zn, Cu, Pb, Cd) by concomitant precipitation in the form of insoluble sulphides inside the sludge bed. The application of aerobic/anoxic biofilter as a sole polishing step for psychrophilic anaerobic effluents was acceptable for elimination of biodegradable COD and nitrogen approaching to the current standards for direct discharge of treated wastewater.