Modelling organic material in activated sludge systems

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Water SA

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University of Cape Town

A simple predictive model for the activated sludge reactor inorganic suspended solids (ISS) concentration is presented. It is based on the accumulation of influent ISS in the reactor and an ordinary heterotrophic organism (OHO) ISS content (fiOHO) of 0.15 mg ISS/mgOHOVSS and a variable phosphate accumulating organism (PAO) ISS content (fiPAO) proportional to their P content (fXBGP). The model is validated with data from 21 investigations conducted over the past 15 years on 30 aerobic and anoxic-aerobic nitrification denitrification (ND) systems and 18 anaerobic-anoxic-aerobic ND biological excess P removal (BEPR) systems variously fed artificial and real wastewater and operated from 3 to 20 d sludge age. The predicted reactor VSS/TSS ratio reflects the observed relative sensitivity to sludge age, which is low, and to BEPR, which is high. For effective use of the model for design, two significant issues require attention: measurement of the influent ISS concentration, which is not commonly done in wastewater characterisation analyses; and estimating a priori the P content of PAOs (fXBGP), which can vary considerably depending on the extent of anoxic P uptake BEPR that takes place in the system. Some guidance on selection of the mixed liquor VSS/TSS ratio for design is given.