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3/11/2017 WhatisSolidsSeparationProcessControlsinPrimaryWastewaterTreatment?






Solids including those suspended, settle-able and oatable are non-liquid or uid substances that are
separated from clari ed wastewater in primary treatment.

Suspended solids are de ned as small solid particles that remain in suspension in water as a colloid, or due to
the motion of the water. Settle-able solids are particles that will settle within a reasonable length of time when
there is very little movement. The weight by volume of settle-able solids is greater than water. Floatable solids
oat because their weight by volume of oatable solids is less than water.

Primary wastewater treatment processes that remove these solids in process containers include primary
clari ers, air otation units and cone shape imho settlers. While e ective solids separation supersedes
controls on pH, ow and other factors, general process controls for operating each of the process containers
are below:

Primary clariers
The most important function of the primary clari er is to remove as much settle-able and suspended material
as possible. Removal of organic settle-able solids is important because they cause a high demand for oxygen
(BOD) in subsequent biological treatment units in the treatment plant or receiving waters.

Many factors in uence settling characteristics in a particular clari er. A few of the more common ones are
temperature, short circuits, detention time, weir over ow rate, surface loading rate, and solids loading. Three of
these factors are discussed below.

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1. Temperature: In general, as water temperature increases, the settling rate of particles increases; as

temperature decreases, so does the settling rate.

2. Short circuits: As wastewater enters the settling tank, it should be evenly dispersed through the entire cross-
section of the tank. It should ow at the same velocity in all areas toward the discharge end. If velocity is
greater in some sections than others, short-circuiting may occur.

Short-circuiting also may be caused by turbulence and strati cation of density layers due to temperature or
salinity. Temperature layers can cause short-circuiting.

3. Detention Time: Wastewater should remain in the clari er long enough to allow su cient settling time for
solid particles. If the tank is too small for the quantity of ow and the settling rate of the particles, too many
particles will be carried out the e uent of the clari er.

Air otation units

The objective of otation thickening is to separate solids from the liquid phase by matching air bubbles to
particles of suspended solids. Four general methods of otation are commonly used as follows:

1. Dispersed air otation where bubbles are generated by mixers or di used aerators.

2. Biological otation where gases formed by biological activity are used to oat solids.

3. Dissolved air, vacuum otation where water is aerated at atmospheric pressure and released under a

4. Dissolved air, pressure otation where air is put into solution under pressure and released at atmospheric

The performance of dissolved air otation units depends on; type of sludge, age of the feed sludge, solids and
hydraulic loadings, air to solids (A/S) ratio, recycle rate, and sludge blanker depth.

Operational guidelines are a ected by the size of dissolved air otation units.

The operation performance can be optimized by controlling Air/Solids (A/S) ratio, recycle rate, and the blanket
thickness by properly adjusting these variables. These control variables are a ected by solids and hydraulic
loading rates. Controls should be established to prevent solids or hydraulic loading to become excessive, which
would cause e uent quality to decline and reduce thickened sludge concentrations.

Operation performance is optimized by conditions below:

Air-to-solids ratio: The optimum ratio should be established and maintained. It is a ected by the quantity of air
introduced and dissolved into the recycle or waste-stream, which is in turn critical in the operation of otation
thickeners. Enough air has to be added and dissolved to oat the sludge solids. The most e ective method of
accomplishing this is to introduce air into a pressurized retention tank along with the waste-stream to be
thickened or along with a portion of the thickener e uent stream. Air also can be dissolved in primary or
secondary e uent, thus avoiding solids recycling in the dissolved air otation (DAF) unit. Mixing of the
retention tank contents should also be used to increase the amount of air that can be put into solution.

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Recycle rate and sludge blanket: Both the rate of e uent recycle and the thickness of the sludge blanket are

operational controls available to optimize Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) performance.

Note on Imho tanks

Imho tanks are rarely constructed today. Your plant may incorporate an Imho tank only if was constructed
many years ago, perhaps in the 1980s. Cone shape Imho settler tanks are unique because the Imho tank
combines sedimentation and sludge digestion in the same process unit.

The majority of primary industrial wastewater-treatment solids-separation process units operate with clari ers
and otation devices which are covered in this article.

Certain general steps separating solids during primary wastewater treatment have been described above,
however if you have speci c solids separation or other wastewater queries, please submit a question.



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