Treatment of table olive washing water using trickling filters, constructed wetlands and electrooxidation

Research paper by Triantafyllos Tatoulis, Alexandros Stefanakis, Zacharias Frontistis, Christos S. Akratos, Athanasia G. Tekerlekopoulou, Dionissios Mantzavinos, Dimitrios V. Vayenas

Indexed on: 14 Jun '16Published on: 13 Jun '16Published in: Environmental Science and Pollution Research


The production of table olives is a significant economic activity in Mediterranean countries. Table olive processing generates large volumes of rinsing water that are characterized by high organic matter and phenol contents. Due to these characteristics, a combination of more than one technology is imperative to ensure efficient treatment with low operational cost. Previously, biological filters were combined with electrooxidation to treat table olive washing water. Although this combination was successful in reducing pollutant loads, its cost could be further reduced. Constructed wetlands could be an eligible treatment method for integrated table olive washing water treatment as they have proved tolerant to high organic matter and phenol loads. Two pilot-scale horizontal subsurface constructed wetlands, one planted and one unplanted, were combined with a biological filter and electrooxidation over a boron-doped diamond anode to treat table olive washing water. In the biological filter inlet, chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentrations ranged from 5500 to 15,000 mg/L, while mean COD influent concentration in the constructed wetlands was 2800 mg/L. The wetlands proved to be an efficient intermediate treatment stage, since COD removal levels for the planted unit reached 99 % (mean 70 %), while the unplanted unit presented removal rates of around 65 %. Moreover, the concentration of phenols in the effluent was typically below 100 mg/L. The integrated trickling filter-constructed wetland-electrooxidation treatment system examined here could mineralize and decolorize table olive washing water and fully remove its phenolic content.