Nitrogen and COD removal from tannery wastewater using biological and physicochemical treatments


  • María Carolina Pire-Sierra Central Western University Lisandro Alvarado
  • Diana Dielui Cegarra-Badell Universidad del Zulia
  • Sedolfo José Carrasquero-Ferrer University of Zulia
  • Nancy Elena Angulo-Cubillan University of Zulia
  • Altamira Rosa Díaz-Montiel University of Zulia



tannery wastewater, biological treatment, physicochemical treatment, nutrient removal, online monitoring, bacterial density


An integrated wastewater treatment was evaluated for nitrogen and COD removal from a tannery effluent. The system was conformed by the combination of a biological treatment using a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) followed by a physicochemical treatment based in a coagulation-flocculation process. The contaminants in the tannery wastewater had average concentrations of 1546 mg COD·L−1, 200 mg TKN·L−1 and 121 mg N-NH4+ ·L−1. The duration of a complete SBR operation cycle was 12 h. Dissolved oxygen (DO), pH and oxidation–reduction potential (ORP) were used to monitor biological nutrient removal process in the reactor. In addition, densities of nitrifying and denitrifying microorganisms in the mixed liquor were evaluated during the biological treatment. During physicochemical treatment, the concentrations of FeCl3 .6H2 O and sour brine (agroindustrial waste used as adjuvant) were 2.7 and 100 g·L-1, respectively (doses were 60 and 5 mL·L-1, respectively). Results show the integrated treatment system was effective to produce an effluent suitable for discharge into water bodies, according to the Venezuelan environmental regulations. Average effluent concentrations were 303 mg COD L−1, 35.1 mg TN·L−1 and 0.5 mg N-NH4 + ·L-1,  giving COD, TN and N-NH4 + removals of 80%, 82% and 99.6%, respectively. Profiles of ORP, DO and pH were efficient ways to monitor the evolution of biological nutrient removal and real-time control can be implemented in order to optimize the SBR operation. Finally, density of nitrifying bacteria was greater than density of denitrifying bacteria during biological treatment.

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Author Biographies

María Carolina Pire-Sierra, Central Western University Lisandro Alvarado

Department of Ecology and Quality Control.

Diana Dielui Cegarra-Badell, Universidad del Zulia

Sanitary and Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering.

Sedolfo José Carrasquero-Ferrer, University of Zulia

Sanitary and Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering.

Nancy Elena Angulo-Cubillan, University of Zulia

Water Research Center, Faculty of Engineering.

Altamira Rosa Díaz-Montiel, University of Zulia

Sanitary and Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering.


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How to Cite

Pire-Sierra, M. C., Cegarra-Badell, D. D., Carrasquero-Ferrer, S. J., Angulo-Cubillan, N. E., & Díaz-Montiel, A. R. (2016). Nitrogen and COD removal from tannery wastewater using biological and physicochemical treatments. Revista Facultad De Ingeniería Universidad De Antioquia, (80), 63–73.

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