How to Effectively Remove BOD from Wastewater: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn how to reduce Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in wastewater from experts. Explore advanced treatment methods to ensure regulatory compliance.

Learn how to reduce Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in wastewater from experts. Explore advanced treatment methods to ensure regulatory compliance.

How to Effectively Remove BOD from Wastewater: A Comprehensive Guide


Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) is a critical parameter in wastewater treatment, representing the amount of dissolved oxygen required by aerobic microorganisms to decompose organic matter present in water. High BOD levels indicate a significant presence of organic pollutants, which can lead to oxygen depletion in water bodies, adversely affecting aquatic life and overall water quality. This guide explores the importance of BOD management, the causes of high BOD, and effective methods to reduce BOD in wastewater, ensuring safe and clean water discharge.

Why Managing BOD is Essential

Proper management of BOD is essential for several reasons:

  1. Environmental Protection: High BOD levels lead to oxygen depletion, harming aquatic ecosystems and causing issues like fish kills and habitat destruction.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Wastewater treatment plants must meet regulatory standards for BOD to avoid fines and legal consequences.
  3. Public Health: Reducing BOD ensures that treated water is safe for human consumption and reduces the risk of waterborne diseases.

Common Sources of High BOD in Wastewater

High BOD in wastewater typically arises from the following sources:

  1. Industrial Discharges: Factories and industrial plants often discharge organic pollutants, increasing BOD levels.
    • Landfills: Leachate from landfills often contains high levels of organic pollutants that increase BOD.
    • Food and Beverage Industries: Wastewater from food processing, breweries, and dairies is rich in organic material, contributing to high BOD levels.
    • Textile and Paper Mills: These industries discharge organic matter and chemicals that elevate BOD in wastewater.
    • Chemical Manufacturing: Industrial processes in chemical plants often produce wastewater with high organic content.
  2. Domestic Sewage: Household waste contains organic materials that contribute to higher BOD.
  3. Agricultural Runoff: Fertilizers and animal waste from farms introduce organic matter into water bodies.

Strategies for Reducing BOD in Wastewater

1. Optimize Solid Removal Processes

Effective solid removal processes can significantly lower BOD by reducing the amount of organic material in wastewater. Consider these methods:

  • Screening and Sedimentation: Use screens and sedimentation tanks to remove large solids and particulates.
  • Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF): Implement DAF systems to remove suspended solids, oils, and grease efficiently.

2. Enhance Biological Treatment

Biological treatment processes are vital for BOD reduction. These methods involve using microorganisms to break down organic matter in wastewater.

  • Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR): MBBR systems use suspended carriers to support biofilm growth, enhancing the breakdown of organic matter.
  • Activated Sludge Process: This process involves aerating wastewater to maintain high dissolved oxygen levels, promoting microbial activity that reduces BOD.

3. Implement Advanced Filtration

Advanced filtration techniques can help further reduce BOD by removing finer particulates and dissolved organic matter.

  • Membrane Bioreactor (MBR): MBR systems combine microfiltration or ultrafiltration with biological treatment, ensuring high-quality effluent with low BOD levels.
  • Sand Filtration: Utilize sand filters to capture fine suspended solids and organic particles.

MBR Examples:

Membrane Bioreactor at Large Food & Beverage Company

4. Control Wastewater Temperature

Temperature control is crucial for maintaining the efficiency of biological treatment processes. Here’s how to manage it effectively:

  • Maintain Moderate Temperatures: Keep temperatures within an optimal range to support microbial activity.
  • Insulate Tanks: Use insulation to prevent heat loss and maintain consistent temperatures in treatment tanks.

5. Use Chemical Additives

Chemical additives can enhance the breakdown of organic matter, thus reducing BOD. These include:

  • Coagulants and Flocculants: Add chemicals to aggregate fine particles into larger flocs, making them easier to remove.
  • pH Adjusters: Maintain optimal pH levels to enhance the effectiveness of biological and chemical treatments.

Essential Equipment for BOD Reduction

Using high-quality equipment is essential for effective BOD reduction. Here are some key components to consider:

  • Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) Systems: Efficiently remove suspended solids, oils, and grease, reducing BOD.
  • Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) Systems: Enhance the breakdown of organic matter through biofilm-supported microbial activity.
  • Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Systems: Provide high-efficiency filtration and biological treatment, ensuring superior effluent quality.

Case Studies: Reducing Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)

Case Study 1: Dairy Industry

Industry: Food & Beverage
Problem: Shamrock Farms was experiencing high concentrations of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) in the wastewater generated during their milk and dairy packaging processes.
Solution: A bioFAS™ Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) system was installed to reduce the BOD and TSS concentrations using a single-stage bioFAS™ MBBR bioreactor and DAF unit.
Status/Results: The bioFAS™ MBBR System effectively removes BOD and TSS, allowing the dairy facility to comply with permitted discharge requirements. The modular bioFAS™ MBBR System is also designed for future expansion.

Parameter Influent Effluent
Wastewater Flow 250,000 GPD -
BOD <3,000 mg/L <250 mg/L
Total Suspended Solids ≤250 mg/L <250 mg/L

Case Study 2: Pulp & Paper Industry

Industry: Pulp & Paper
Problem: Ox Paperboard LLC needed to upgrade its wastewater treatment process because the BOD load produced by the paper mill exceeded the treatment capacity of the existing Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR).
Solution: An existing clarified water tank was retrofitted into a single-stage MBBR system to reduce the BOD load to the existing SBR. The treated wastewater from the bioFAS MBBR is discharged to the existing SBR for BOD polishing and solids removal.
Status/Results: The bioFAS MBBR system reduces carbonaceous BOD by over 75%, enabling the existing SBR to meet effluent BOD limits.

Parameter Influent Effluent
Wastewater Flow 1,000,000 GPD -
BOD 60 mg/L <10 mg/L
Formaldehyde 14.5 mg/L <0.5 mg/L

Calculating BOD Removal Efficiency

To evaluate the efficiency of BOD removal in a wastewater treatment plant, use the following calculation:

BOD Removal Efficiency (%) = Influent BOD - Effluent BOD Influent BOD × 100

This formula helps determine the percentage of BOD removed during the treatment process, indicating the plant's performance.

Brief Mention of COD Reduction

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) measures the total quantity of oxygen required to oxidize all organic material in water, not just biodegradable matter. While this guide focuses on BOD reduction, it's important to note that effective COD reduction methods also play a crucial role in comprehensive wastewater treatment. For detailed information on COD reduction, please refer to our dedicated blog post on this topic.


Effective BOD management is crucial for environmental protection, regulatory compliance, and public health. By understanding the sources of high BOD and employing suitable reduction methods, wastewater treatment plants can ensure the release of safe, clean water back into the environment. Utilizing high-quality equipment and tailored treatment processes can significantly enhance BOD removal efficiency.

For tailored solutions to your wastewater treatment challenges, contact bioprocessH2O. Our team of experts can help you select the best equipment and methods to reduce BOD and ensure optimal water quality.

by Kyle Burns

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