Zero discharge of Wastewater from juice making industry using Vermibio Filtration Technology

Ghatnekar, S.D., Ghalsala-Dighe, D.S. and Ghatnekar, S.S.,
Biotechnology Resource Centre, India


The paper describes the novel vermi-bio-filtration technology developed by BRC to treat the
liquid effluents produced by Gujrat based juice making industry into bio-clean and bio-safe
water. The treated bio-clean water can be used to clean floors and vessels as well as for any
secondary purpose except for drinking.

Around 80-85 sq. m area is required to set-up this novel plant having capacity to treat 12,000
liters of effluents everyday. The multi-stage plant consists of four vermi-bio-filters. The principle
of trickling filter is used in the system. Each vermi-bio-filter is accompanied by a sump and upper
layer consists of sterilized bedding material inclusive of selected microorganisms, enzymes and
worms. This layer has to be replaced after 6-8 months and the resultant biomass with specific
pre-treatment could be used as pro-biotic nutrient for the crops. The COD of wastewater was
reduced from 12,000 ppm to less than 200 ppm. The total recurring cost to treat 12,000 liters
effluents everyday works out to be Rs. 50-60 (£ 0.75-85) whereas, in the conventional ETP plant,
the running costs will be Rs. 5000-6000 (£ 7.5-10). The capital cost of the plant is also 6-7 times
less than the conventional ETP plant.

In fine, the implementation of this innovative technology results not only into pollution
abatement but into zero discharge as well.

Earthworms, enzymes, microorganisms, pollution abatement, vermi-bio-filter, wastewater, zero


In the recent past, developing countries like India have changed their approach towards the
treatment of liquid effluents. The research has been intensively directed towards simpler,
energy saving, environmentally bio-safe and cost-effective technological solutions. In addition,
the environmental regulations by Pollution Control Boards have undergone vast changes. As a
result, conventional treatment technologies have been further refined and new technologies
for wastewater treatment are being implemented and/or are in the development stage to meet
increasingly more stringent water quality criteria (Kumar et al. 2008). Today, most of the
wastewater treatment plants have started looking for biotechnological alternatives in their
systems. Apart from the benefits of improved capacity, efficiency and lowered operative costs, microorganisms, enzymes and earthworms also keep the treatment process as natural as

Amongst the varied biotechnological methods of wastewater treatment adopted, vermiculture
biotechnology and microbial wastewater treatments are gaining wide popularity. Earthworms
have proved to be master bio-processing agents for the management of organic effluents from
diverse sources ranging from domestic sewage to industrial refuse (Ghatnekar et al. 2000).
Startlingly, they convert effluents that are an undesirable nuisance into coveted plant probiotics
in the form of soil-conditioners. The use of microorganisms is also considered as an integral part
of the wastewater treatment process. Higher concentration of microorganisms is able to remove
the organic matter from the water at a faster rate, particularly in the case of lagoon systems
where it can take several months for the complete degradation process. In this context,
Biotechnology Resource Centre, India has developed a novel technology using multi-stage
vermi-bio-filters with the key objective of converting industrial liquid effluents into ‘bio-safe’ and
‘bio-clean’ water.

Since last 30 years, Biotechnology Resource Centre, India has contributed towards uniting the
environment and economy by developing innovative, ‘bio-safe’ waste treatment technologies
of global importance (Ghatnekar and Kavian 1992; Ghatnekar et al. 2009a). BRC has
successfully commissioned vermiculture-based effluent treatment plant (ETP) in diverse industrial
units (Ghatnekar et al. 1995; Kavian and Ghatnekar 1999). The developed “three-tier
vermiculture biotechnology” involves the synergistic action of selected enzymes,
microorganisms and earthworms for degradation of complex organic wastes in both the solid and
liquid forms and convert them into useful plant probiotics (Ghatnekar et al. 2009a,b).

Vermi-bio-filtration is a relatively new technology to process organically polluted water using
earthworms as biofilters (Ghatnekar and Kavian, 2000, Sinha et al. 2007; Li et. al. 2009).
Biotechnology Resource Centre (BRC) has developed a new treatment technology incorporating
the use of microorganisms, earthworms and enzymes to convert the redundant waste water
into bio- safe and bio-clean water which can be used for various secondary purposes except for
drinking. The vermi-bio-filtration-based wastewater treatment plant has been successfully
commissioned by BRC at Orient Vegetexpo Ltd., Dindori, Nashik (Ghatnekar et al. 2000) and
in gelatine manufacturing company at Gujarat (Ghatnekar et al. 2010). In fact in the last four years
this technology is implemented in many chemical industrial set ups in Vadodara, Gujarat resulting
into zero discharge of wastewater.

This paper illustrates the use of state-of-the-art vermi-bio-filtration technology to treat the
redundant wastewater from Gujarat based juice industry into “bio-clean” and “bio-safe” water.
This water is successfully used by the industry for secondary purpose like vessel and floor
washing, toilet-flushing, gardening and irrigation etc. except for human consumption.

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