Repository logo

Waste water treatment of effluents from corn processing plant.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



South Africa is facing numerous challenges that pertain to increasing water deficit and pollution of water resources. Only 40 out of 821 wastewater treatment works in South Africa achieved Green Drop certifications in the 2010 Green Drop assessments (DWA, 2011). This is not only threatening net water availability but also human health. South African water sources are comprised of 77 % surface water, 14 % return flows and 9 % groundwater (van Vuuren, 2009). This study was therefore intended to explore the quality, quantity and treatability of corn wet milling effluent resulting from Tongaat Hulett Starch Pty Ltd (THS) operations. THS is a major producer of corn derived starch and glucose in Africa. Amongst its three corn wet milling plants in Gauteng (Kliprivier, Germiston and Meyerton) and one in Western Cape (Bellville), 600000 tonnes of maize were processed in the 2011/2012 financial year. The objective of the study was to establish the wastewater footprint of the corn wet milling process. To achieve this, qualitative and quantitative characterisation studies were completed on effluents generated from the Germiston and Meyerton corn wet milling plants, respectively. This characterisation study was focused on volumetric and organic load analyses of the various sections of the corn wet milling process. A full scale anaerobic digestion treatability study of the Meyerton plant effluent was also conducted. The study results indicated that the combined effluent discharged to the Municipal sewer averaged between 2.9 and 3.1 m3/tonne of corn processed. The effluent generated resulted in an average chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentrations of between 6211 and 7790 mg/L, with suspended solid concentrations of between 635 and 899 mg/L. From the full scale anaerobic treatability study, a minimum of 87 % COD removal at organic volumetric loading rates (OLR) of between 0.3 and 3.9 kg COD/m3.d was achieved. It was concluded that corn wet milling effluent can be categorised as high strength in terms of COD concentrations. This type of effluent proved to be amenable to anaerobic digestion treatment. Anaerobic pretreatment of corn wet milling effluent can proportionately reduce pollution loading into the receiving municipal conventional wastewater treatment systems.


Thesis (M.Sc.Eng.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2013.


Corn--Processing--Waste disposal--South Africa., Corn products industry--Waste disposal--South Africa., Factory and trade waste--Purification--South Africa., Theses--Chemical engineering.