Task 2 researchers publish two articles on investigations into IASBR technology for the treatment of dairy wastewater

Task 2 researchers based at the National University of Ireland, Galway have published two papers on the use of Intermittently Aerated Sequencing Batch Reactor (IASBR) technology for the treatment of dairy processing wastewater. The papers detail investigations performed at both laboratory and pilot-scale to validate the use of this technology within the dairy sector.

Paper 1 title: Efficient treatment of dairy processing wastewater in a laboratory scale Intermittently Aerated Sequencing Batch Reactor (IASBR)

Authors: Peter Leonard, Emma Tarpey, William Finnegan and Xinmin Zhan.

Journal: Journal of Dairy Research

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022029918000584


This Research Communication describes an investigation into the viability of an Intermittently Aerated Sequencing Batch Reactor (IASBR) for the treatment of dairy processing wastewater at laboratory-scale. A number of operational parameters have been varied and the effect has been monitored in order to determine optimal conditions for maximising removal efficiencies. These operational parameters include Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT), Solids Retention Time (SRT), aeration rate and cycle length. Real dairy processing wastewater and synthetic wastewater have been treated using three laboratory-scale IASBR units in a temperature controlled room. When the operational conditions were established, the units were seeded using sludge from a municipal wastewater treatment plant for the first experiment, and sludge from a dairy processing factory for the second and third experiment. In experiment three, the reactors were fed on real wastewater from the wastewater treatment plant at this dairy processing factory. These laboratory-scale systems will be used to demonstrate over time that the IASBR system is a consistent, viable option for treatment of dairy processing wastewater in this sector. In this study, the capacity of a biological system to remove both nitrogen and phosphorus within one reactor will be demonstrated. The initial operational parameters for a pilot-scale IASBR system will be derived from the results of the study.


Paper 2 title: Efficient treatment of dairy processing wastewater in a pilot scale Intermittently Aerated Sequencing Batch Reactor (IASBR)

Authors: Peter Leonard, William Finnegan, Maria Barrett and Xinmin Zhan.

Journal: Journal of Dairy Research

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022029918000596


This Research Communication describes the initial operation of a pilot-scale intermittently aerated sequencing batch reactor system, which is located at an Irish dairy processing factory. Laboratory-scale research has facilitated the design specifications and operational parameters necessary for the construction and running of a pilot-scale. Laboratory scale research was necessary prior to the pilot scale system to ensure high quality treatment and nutrient removal efficiencies. The pilot system operates with a hydraulic retention time of 4 d, a solids retention time of 16 d and a cycle length of 12 hours. There are 4 non-aeration and aeration phases within the system’s react phase. This system has a 3000 l working volume, treating 375 l of wastewater per cycle, 750 l daily. The system was seeded from an aeration tank at the dairy processing factory where the unit is located. The system is operating with the goal to remove both nitrogen and phosphorus from the wastewater biologically, reducing the need for chemical treatment. Currently, the system is performing with high efficiency, treating the wastewater to an acceptable level according to the Irish Environmental Protection Agency for discharge into surrounding water bodies. Therefore, the initial removal results demonstrate this technology’s suitability for the treatment of high strength dairy wastewaters.

Congratulations to Peter and all co-authors.

Project overview paper published by Dairywater researchers

The DairyWater team have had a cluster of articles published in the Journal of Dairy Research (Cambridge University Press) after peer review. The first paper published was an overview paper of the project written by Dr. William Finnegan with contributions from each of the researchers associated with the tasks of the project.

Title: DairyWater: striving for sustainability within the dairy processing industry in the Republic of Ireland

Authors: William Finnegan, Eoghan Clifford, Jamie Goggins, Niall O’Leary, Alan Dobson, Neil Rowan, Liwen Xiao, Song Miao, Kelly Fitzhenry, Peter Leonard, Emma Tarpey, Beatriz Gil-Pulido, Fei Gao, Xinmin Zhan.

Journal: Journal of Dairy Research

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022029918000614


This Review describes the objectives and methodology of the DairyWater project as it aims to aid the Irish dairy processing industry in achieving sustainability as it expands. With the abolition of European milk quotas in March 2015, the Republic of Ireland saw a surge in milk production. The DairyWater project was established in anticipation of this expansion of the Irish dairy sector in order to develop innovative solutions for the efficient management of water consumption, wastewater treatment and the resulting energy use within the country’s dairy processing industry. Therefore, the project can be divided into three main thematic areas: dairy wastewater treatment technologies and microbial analysis, water re-use and rainwater harvesting and environmental assessment. In order to ensure the project remains as relevant as possible to the industry, a project advisory board containing key industry stakeholders has been established. To date, a number of large scale studies, using data obtained directly from the Irish dairy industry, have been performed. Additionally, pilot-scale wastewater treatment (intermittently aerated sequencing batch reactor) and tertiary treatment (flow-through pulsed ultraviolet system) technologies have been demonstrated within the project. Further details on selected aspects of the project are discussed in greater detail in the subsequent cluster of research communications.

Congratulations to William and all co-authors.

A new publication from DairyWater researchers

Task 5 researchers have worked with Task 2 researchers to publish an article Evaluation of dairy processing wastewater biotreatment in an IASBR system: Aeration rate impacts on performance and microbial ecology in the journal of Biotechnology Reports (authors: Beatriz Gil-Pulido, Emma Tarpey, Eduardo L. Almeida, William Finnegan, Xinmin Zhan, Alan D.W. Dobson and Niall O’Leary). The current study is the first to describe the microbial ecology of an intermittently aerated batch reactor system treating synthetic dairy effluent and to asses the impacts of varying aeration rates. The knowledge of bacterial communities in biological wastewater treatments are crucial for stable bioreactor performance and process optimisation. Results suggest members of the Comamonadacae family may contribute significantly to nitrogen and phosphorus remediation processes”. The link to the paper is doi: 10.1016/j.btre.2018.e00263 or https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6036646/. Congratulations to Bea and her supervisors.

Prof. Xinmin Zhan gave keynote presentations in LivestockWaste2018

Prof. Xinmin Zhan (project coordinator) attended the 3rd International Conference on Recent Advances in Pollution Control and Resource Recovery for the Livestock Farming Industry (LivestockWaste 2018) held in 26-28 July, 2018 in Xiamen City, China, and was invited to give a keynote speech. Prof. Zhan presented his thoughts on on-farm anaerobic digesters: Challenges facing on-farm anaerobic digestion. The challenges include: economic profitability, efficient use of biogas, digestate management, biosafety of digestate for land application, nutrient recovery technologies, and design and operation of on-farm digesters.