Using Ultrafiltration for Reclaiming Wastewater Containing Heavy Metals

By Mike Snodgrass


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An airplane parts manufacturer implemented wastewater reuse at their facility in an effort to reduce fresh water consumption and minimize overall waste disposal. In order to reduce fresh water consumption by 75% to 80%, a significant upgrade of the existing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was needed. Due to the various manufacturing processes, such as metal cutting, finishing, cleaning, inspection, plating, and painting, the plant wastewater is highly concentrated with heavy metals. The constituents of most concern are chromium, aluminum, iron, zinc, and copper. The existing 350 gallons per minute (gpm) (1,900 cubic meters per day [m3/d]) WWTP consisted of a series of precipitation and sedimentation processes that was unable to provide the effluent quality needed for wastewater reuse. It was decided to replace the existing clarifier with an ultrafiltration (UF) system followed by reverse osmosis (RO). The high effluent quality provided by the UF/RO systems allows the facility to reuse their wastewater for all of their manufacturing processes.

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