Dairy Wastewater Treatment by Anaerobic Fixed bed Reactors from Laboratory to pilot-scale plant: A case study in Costa Rica Operating at Ambient Temperature

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Laboratorio de Materiales Industriales (LAMI), Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA), Heredia, Costa Rica

2 Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Avda. Padre García Tejero, 4, 41012-Sevilla, Spain


The effect of hydraulic retention time in a range from 1.0-5.5 days was evaluated in a laboratoryscale
anaerobic fixed bed reactor packed with a hybrid material composed of tire rubber and zeolite. Under
these conditions, COD removal efficiencies varied from 28.3% to 82.1%, respectively. Over the more than 6
months of operation, no clogging was observed. The results obtained demonstrated that this type of reactor
was capable of operating with dairy waste at a hydraulic retention time 5 times lower than that used in a
conventional digester. Based on the laboratory-scale experimental results obtained, a pilot-scale plant was
designed. The pilot plant was installed in “Cot de Oreamuno” near the city of Cartago, Costa Rica.Biogas
produced in the pilot-scale anaerobic plant was used for the generation of electricity on the farm. In this case, a COD removal efficiency of 63.6 % was achieved in the full-scale anaerobic plant at a hydraulic retention time of 3 days, this value being comparable with that obtained at laboratory-scale.