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Operational Problems

The most common problems in the operation of an activated


sludge plant are bulking sludge, rising sludge and nocardia
foam.

Bulking Sludge
Bulking sludge has
Poor settling characteristics and
Poor compactability.

Two principle types of sludge bulking problems have been


identified.
Caused by the growth of filamentous organisms
Or organisms that can grow in a filamentous form under
adverse conditions.
This is the predominant form of bulking

A Filamentous Bacteria Growing with Floc

Microthrix Parvicella

Caused by bound water


Bacterial floc swell and their density is reduced so they will
not settle.

The causes of sludge bulking are related to


1. The pysical and chemical characteristics of the WW
2. Treatment plant design limitations
3. Plant operation

1. WW characteristics that can affect sludge bulking include


fluctuations in flow & strength, pH, temperature, nutrient
content
2. Design limitations include air supply capacity, clarifier design,
return sludge pumping capacity, short circuting or poor mixing.

Bulking is often a problem in center feed circular tanks


where sludge is removed from the tank directly under
the point where mixed liquir enters the tank. In some
cases a large part of the sludge is actually retained in
the tank for many hours rather than the desired 30 min.
If this is the case then the design is fault and change the
withdrawal equipment.

3. Operational causes of filamentous bulking include


low dissolved oxygen in the aeration tank
insufficient nutrients: Especially quantity of nitrogen and

phosphorus important, also absence of trace element cause


bulking.
widely varying organic waste loading
low F/M ratio: The F/M ratio should be check to make it is

within normal range.


Low F/M ratio encourage the growth of filamentous

organisms
High F/M may result in the presence of small disperse flocs.
insufficient soluble BOD5 gradient:

Limited dissolved oxygen has been noted more frequently than


any other cause. If the problem is due to limited D.O. Aerating
equipment should operate at full capacity. At least 2 mg/L of
dissolved oxygen in the aeration tank (under normal loading
conditions) should be maintained.
One of the kinetic features of filamentous organisms that
relates to this condition is that they are very competitive at low
substrate concentrations whether it be organic substrates, DO
or nutrients.

Filamentous bacteria such as Beggiatoa & Thiothrix


grow well on hydrogen sulfide & reduced substrates
respectively that would be found in septic WW.

When the influent WW contains fermentation products


such as volitile fatty acids & reduced sulfur compounds
(sulfides and thiosulfate) Thiothrix can proliferate.
Prechlorination of the WW has been done to prevent to
their growth.

Beggiatoa

Beggiatoa, a filamentous
bacterium that oxidizes
hydrogen sulfide.

Thiothrix

In an emergency situation or while these factors are being


investigated chlorine & hydrogen peroxide may be used to
provide temporary help.

Chlorination of return sludge has been practiced as a means


of controlling bulking sludge caused by filamentous
organisms.

It is ineffective when bulking is due to light floc containing


bound water.

Chlorination of return sludge in the range of 2-3 mg/L (in


severe cases 8-10 mg/L) of Cl2 per 1000 mg/L MLVSS is
suggested.

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Rising Sludge

Occasionally sludge that has a good settling


characteristics will be observed to rise or float to the
surface.

The cause of this phenomenon is denitrification.

As nitrogen gas is formed in the sludge layer, much of


it is trapped in the sludge mass & sludge rises or floats.

Rising sludge can be differentiated from bulking sludge


by noting the presence of small gas bubbles attached
to the floating solids.
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Rising sludge problems may be overcome by

Increase return activated sludge withdrawal rate (so


reduce detention time of the sludge in the clarifier)

Increase the speed of the sludge-collecting


mechanism in the settling tank

Increase sludge wasting rate (consequently


decreasing of the SRT achieved)

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Nocardia Foam
A viscous brown foam that covers the aeration basins &
secondary clarifiers has produced many problems, including
safety hazards, odors and changes in effluent quality.
The foam is associated with a slow growing filamentous organism
usually Nocardia genus.

Nocardia-like Filamentous Bacteria in Activated


Sludge Foam (Gram stained preparation).

Nocardia, Type 1863


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Nocardia foam

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Foam on weirs
Clarifier foam

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foaming in an aeration
basin

Probable causes:

Low F/M in the aeration tank


High MLSS due to insufficient sludge wasting
Sludge reaeration
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Measures for nocardia control include


1.

Reducing sludge age (most commonly used)

2.

Reducing the air flowrate to lower the depth of foam


accumulation

3.

Adding a selector compartment to control the growth of


filamentous organisms

4.

Injecting a bacterial additive

5.

Chlorinating the return sludge

6.

Spraying chloride solution or sprinkling powered calcium


hypochloride directly onto the foam

7.

Reducing the pH (in the mixed liquor)

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The Selector Concept


The selector concept entails the selective growth of flocforming organisms at the initial stage of the biological process
by providing a high F/M ratio at controlled DO levels.

The high substrate


concentration in the
selector favors the growth
of nonfilamentous
organisms (see Fig. 8-13).

Specific growth rate h-1

A selector is a small tank (20 to 60 min contact time) or a


series of tanks in which the incoming wastewater is mixed with
return sludge under aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic conditions.
Nonfilamentous forms

Filamentous forms

Substrate, mg/L
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Selector designs are based on either kinetic or metabolic


mechanisms
1. Kinetics-Based Selector:
Selector designs based on biokinetic mechanisms provide for
reactor substrate concentrations that result in faster substrate
uptake by the floc forming bacteria.
While filamentous bacteria are more efficient for substrate
utilization at low substrate concentrations, the floc forming
bacteria have higher growth rates at high soluble substrate
concentrations.
The kinetics-based
selector designs are
called high F/M selectors
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2. Metabolic-Based Selector:

With biological nutrient removal processes, improved


sludge settling characteristics, and, in many cases, minimal
filamentous bacteria growth has been observed.

The anoxic or anaerobic metabolic conditions used in these


processes favor growth of the floc forming bacteria.

The filamentous bacteria can not use nitrate or nitrite for an


electron acceptor, thus yielding a significant advantage to
denitrifying floc forming bacteria.

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Similarly,

the

filamentous

bacteria

do

not

store

polyphosphates and thus cannot consume acetate in


the anaerobic contact zone in biological phosphorus
removal designs, giving an advantage for substrate
uptake and growth to the phosphorus-storing bacteria.

In some wastewater treatment facilities an anaerobic


selector has been used before the aeration tank in low
SRT even though phosphorus removal is not required.

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ACTIVATED SLUDGE
MODIFICATIONS
1. Conventional Activated Sludge Treatment
A typical flow pattern is

As the tank geometry is long and narrow the mixing


regime approaches plug-flow.
The air diffusers are generally locate evenly along one
side of the tank, therefore a spiral flow pattern is
produced.
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Operating experience soon revealed a number of problems


with this design.

For example as the biomass was recycled back to the head of


the aeration tank and there mixed with incoming WW it was
observed that the oxygen requirements at this point often
exceeded the capability of the aeration system.

It was also found that such a flow arrangement increased the


probability of process failure due to shock loads of toxic or
high-strength waste because these loads were controlled at
the enterance.

Because of these deficiencies numerous modifications have


been proposed.

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2. Tapered Aeration

This modification is identical to the conventional process.


The basic difference between the two process is in the
diffuser arrangement.
In tapered aeration diffusers are spaced so that more air is
supplied at the head of the tank, where the oxygen demand is
greatest, and is then decreased.
It is more economical than conventional.
more air

less air

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3. Step Aeration
Aeration tank
influent
effluent

Return sludge

In this modification return sludge is mixed with a portion of the


WW and enters the head of the aeration tank.
WW is also fed into the tank at different points along its
length.
Advantages are
a) Better equalization of waste load
b) Lower peak O2 demand
c) Smaller overall aeration tank volume
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4. Complete Mixing

This process is an application of the flow regime of a


continuos flow stirred tank reactor (CSTR).
The organic load on the aeration tank and the oxygen
demand are uniform throughout the tank length.
Because of the rapid blending of feed and tank contents,
this process is highly resistant to shock loads.

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5. Extended Aeration
Extended aeration plants are generally small (applicable to
flow less than 1 MGD) because of the large aeration tanks
volumes required.
Since it operates in endogenous respiration phase of the
growth curve which requires low organic loading & long
aeration time.
Theoretically the extended air process is designed such
that all substrate removed is channeled into energy
metabolism & oxidized so that no excess biomass is
produced & sludge handling is eliminated.
Since the oxygen requirement is high associated energy
costs is also high.
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Lag

Log

Declining

Endogenous

Contact Stabilization
Complete Mix
Step Aeration

Extended Aeration

Conventional

High Rate

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6. Contact Stabilization

Contact stabilization uses two separate tanks for the treatment


of the WW and the stabilization of the activated sludge
Complete mix

Contact tank
(adsroption)
Complete mix

Stabilization
tank

The first tank provides contact between the biomass and the
WW for a short period of time 20-40 min.
The insoluble organic material is first adsorbed to the m.o. floc
surface, then solubilized.
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In the second aeration tank, the organic material which


is adsorbed on the biomass surface is metabolized or
stabilized (retention time 4-8 hr)

In these systems aeration volume requirements are


typically 50 percent less than conventional plug flow
because contact tank operates at a short retention time.

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7. Sludge Reaeration

The flow scheme for sludge reaeration is similar to the


contact stabilization. But in this case it is assumed that all
substrate entering the reaeration tank is removed.
Thus no substrate will be present in the recycle from the
reaeration tank to the aeration tank.
Complete mix

Aeration tank
Complete mix

Reaeration
tank

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8. High Rate Activated Sludge


For this particular process modification, a low MLSS
concentrations are combined with high volumetric BOD
loadings.
This system is characterized by short HRT, high sludge
recycle ratio, high F/M loading.
The subtrate removal efficiency is low (typically 60-75 %)
mainly because the plant effluent generally contains a high
solids concentration. (This high solids concentration is a
result of the physiological state of the organisms in the
aeration tank.)
Therefore, the high rate process can not be used where a
high quality effluent is required.
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Lag

Log

Declining

Endogenous

Contact Stabilization
Complete Mix
Step Aeration

Extended Aeration

Conventional

High Rate

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9. Pure Oxygen Aeration

High quality oxygen is used in stead of air in the


activated sludge process.

This system is based on the principle that the rate of


transfer of oxygen is higher for pure oxygen than for
air.

This results in higher availability of dissolved oxygen


leading to improved treatment and reduced production
of sludge.

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10. Oxidation Ditch

The oxidation ditch consists of a


ring or oval channel and is
equipped with one or more
rotating rotors for WW aeration.
Screened WW enters the ditch, is
aerated and circulates at about
0.25-0.35 m/s.
Typically operation an extended
aeration mode with long
detention times.

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11. Orbal Process


The orbal process is a variation
of the oxidation ditch.
And uses a concentric channels
with the same structure.
Wastewater enters the larger
outer channel and flows toward
the center through at least two
more channels before entering
an internal clarifier or a
Disk aerators mounted on a horizontal
distribution box.
shaft provide aeration.

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12. Sequencing Batch Reactor

This is a fill and draw type reactor


system.
In SBR operation the process are
carried out sequencially in the
same tank.
SBR systems have five steps in
common.

1. Fill

2. React

3. Settle(sedimentation clarification

4. Draw /decant

5. Idle

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13. Biolac Process


Biolac is a process that combines long
solids retention times with submerged
aeration in earthen basins.
A major advantage of the Biolac system
is its low installed cost.

The BioFuser fine bubble diffusers require no


mounting to basin floors or associated anchors
and leveling. These diffusers are suspended
from the BioFlex floating aeration chains.
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DESIGN EXAMPLE

Note:
Prepare a hand-out for exam!!

Design a complete-mix activated sludge system


Given: Avarage design flow: 0.32 m3/s (6.3 Mgal/d)
Peak design flow: 0.8 m3/s (21.9 Mgal/d)
Raw WW BOD5 : 240 mg/L
Raw WW TSS : 280 mg/L
Effluent BOD5 20 mg/L
Effluent TSS 24 mg/L
WW Temperature : 20 oC
Operational parameters & biokinetic coefficients:
c = 10 d, MLVSS=2400 mg/L (can be 3600 mg/L), VSS/TSS =0.8
TSS conc. in RAS =9300 mg/L, Y = 0.5 mg VSS/mg BOD5, kd= 0.06 /d
BOD5/ultimate BODu = 0.67
Assume: 1) BOD5 and TSS removal in primary clarifiers are 33 & 67 %
respectively.
2) Specific gravity of the primary sludge is 1.05 and the sludge has 4.4
% of solids content
3) Oxygen consumption is 1.42 mg per mg of cell oxidized.
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Secondary clarifier design


Pilot plant study for settling tank
MLSS (mg/L) 1200 1800 2400 3300 4000 5500

6800

8100

Initial settling
velocity m/h

0.13

0.06

4.1

3.1

2.1

1.2

0.77

0.26

nitial settling m/h

Plot MLSS settling curve on log-log paper.

From this fiqure determine the solid fluxes.

MLSS conc. (mg/L)

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V1
(X*V1)
initial settling Solid flux
2
Velocity, m/h kg/(m .h)

1000

4.2

4.2

1500

3.7

5.55

2000

2.8

5.6

2500

2.0

5.

3000

1.5

4.5

4000

0.76

3.04

5000

0.41

2.04

6000

0.22

1.32

7000

0.105

0.74

8000

0.062

0.5

9000

0.033

0.3

Solids flux (kg/m2.h)

X
MLSS
(mg/L)

2000 4000 6000 8000 10000

Solids conc. in return


sludge mg/L

Determine limiting solids flux for an


underflow concentration of 9300 mg/L
(desired underflow)
The limiting solid flux value = 1.3 kg/m2.h
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Design flow to secondary clarifiers, Q


Q = avarage design flow + return sludge flow MLSS wasted
= 27563 + 12942 283 m3/d
= 40222 m3/d
Use two clarifiers each one w/ flow of 20200 m3/d
Area of clarifier

QX
A
SF

A: area of the secondary clarifier m2


Q : influent flow of the clarifier m3/h
X: MLSS concentration kg/m3
SF: limiting solids flux kg/m2.h

3
3
20200
m
/
d
(
2400
g
/
m
/ 0.8)
2
For each clarifier A

1942
m
(24 h / 1 d *1000 g / kg ) *1.3kg / m 2 .h

A= .r2 =1942

r 25 m

Determine recycle ratio required to maintain MLSS conc at 3000 mg/L


(Q+Qr) 3000 = Q X + QrXu
Q (3000-X) = Qr (Xu-3000)
Qr/Q = 3000-X/(Xu-3000) = =recycle ratio
Q = influent flow
Qr= recycle ratio
When Xu = 9300 mg/L and X= 92.8 mg/L
X= influent SS conc
= 0.46
Xu underflow SS conc

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