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Activated Sludge Process

Lectures no. 9 and 10

Activated Sludge process design requires

influent characteristics of the wastewater

The aeration tank volume

The sludge production rate

The oxygen supply rate needed

Effluent concentration of important parameters

Key Wastewater Constituents for process
Wastewater characteristic of important;

Carbonaceous substrates

Nitrogenous compound Table 8.1

Table 8.2
Phosphorous compounds

Total and volatile solids

Component Kherbit As-Samra WWTP Abu-Nussier
COD tot (mg/l) 1929 1597
CODss (pCOD) (mg/l) 1336 1093
CODcol (mg/l) 139 128
CODs (mg/l) 453 376
TS (mg/l) 2100 1710
VS (mg/l) 1000 960
TSS (mg/l) 420 470
VSS (mg/l) 260 340
Carbohydrates mg COD/l 98 76
Lipids mg COD/l 419 420
Protein mg COD/l 812 769
Ammonium mg /l 80 80
VFA mg COD /l 200 150
pH 7.2 7.3
Carbonaceous constituents High bCOD or BOD means

Larger aeration basin volume

More oxygen transfer need
Greater sludge production
Total COD

Biodegradable Non-biodegradable

Readily Slowly Nobiodegradable

biodegradable biodegradable nonbiodegradable
(soluble) (particulate)
(soluble) (particulate) nbVSS

complex Colloidal
Suspended Found in eff
VFA solids

Contribute to total
sludge production
TCOD= rbCOD+ sbCOD+ nbsCOD+ nbpCOD

CODT= Ss+ Xs+ SI+ XI

Xs= Xcol+X sp

Soluble readily biodegradable COD is assimilated

quickly by the biomass.

the particulate and colloidal COD must first be

dissolved by extracellular enzymes and are thus
assimilated at much slower rates.
the rbCOD fraction of the COD has a direct effect on
the activated sludge biological kinetics and process
Biological processes affected by concentration of
rbCOD in influent wastewater , Table 8-3.

rbCOD consists of complex soluble COD and VFA.

Complex COD can be fermented to VFA in inf. ww

ww that are more septic (sewer line of minimal slope,

warm climate, approximately fully flow sewer lines) will
contain higher concentration of VFA.
Grady et al. (1999) pointed out that the bCOD/BOD
ratio > UBOD/BOD.why?

Because not all of the bCOD is oxidized in the BOD

test, some is converted into biomass, which still remain
as cell debris and active cells at the end of BOD
incubation period.
After long-term

Fraction of cell mass remaining as cell debris, g/g

Synthesis yield t for heterotrophic bacteria, gVSS/gCOD used

For domestic wastewater

UBOD/BOD=1.5 , fd=0.15, YH= 0.4
Nitrogenous constituents


Organic N Ammonia
60-70% of TKN

Biodegradable Nonbiodegradable

soluble particulate soluble Particulate

<3%of inf TKN 6% of nbVSS

There is possibility that soluble nondegradable organic

nitrogen may be produced from endogenous respiration
Nitrogen compounds

fN Fraction of organic nitrogen in VSS, gN/gVSS

nbpON= fN (nbVSS)
Non biodegradable VSS
nbvss concentration can be estimated from
Based on the assumption that gCOD/gVSS is the same
for the biodegradable and non biodegradable VSS.

The nbVSS is then determined:

nbpCOD= TCOD+ bCOD+ nbsCODe

nbsCOD= filtered COD in AS effluent, mg/l

Alkalinity Nitrification
If wastewater sample is not available

Alkalinity can be estimated from alkalinity information of the potable

water plus the alkalinity contributed through domestic use
table 3-16 : 60-120 mg/l as CaCO3 based on 460l/cap.d
Summary tabulation
bCOD 1.6 (BOD)
nbCOD= nbsCOD + nbpCOD
bCOD= sbCOD + rbCOD


ON= bON+ nbON
nbON= nbsON+nbpON

Example 8-1
Recycle flow and loading
The impact of recycle flow must be quantified and included in defining the
influent ww characteristics to the AS process

Also; backwash water from filtration processes

water from odor control scrubbers
Depending on the source, a significant BOD, TSS and
NH4-N load may be added to the influent wastewater.

Compared to untreated wastewater or primary clarifier

effluent, BOD/VSS ratio of recycle streams is much

A significant NH4-N load can be returned to the influent

ww from anaerobic digestion related processes.
Concentration of NH4-N in the range of 1000-2000 mg/l
are possible in centrate or filtrate from dewatering of
anaerobically digested solid

A mass balance should be done to account

for all contributing flows and loads to AS
Activated sludge process

Process design consideration

Selection of reactor type (Table 8-4)

Applicable kinetic relationships (Table 8-5)

Selection of solids retention time and

loading criteria

Sludge production
Oxygen requirements
Nutrient requirements
Chemical requirements
Most critical parameter for AS design
It affects:
treatment performance
Aeration tank volume
Sludge production
Oxygen requirements

For BOD removal only, SRT value range from 3-5d

At 18-25 C SRT value of 3d is desired where only
BOD removal is required and to discourage nitrification
and eliminate the associated oxygen demands

At 10C SRT values of 5-6 days are common.

Table 8-5
For BOD and Nitrifcation
For nitrification design, SRT that is calculated from
nitrification kinetics is multiplied by safety factor

Safety factor: Why?

to allow for operational flexibility in controlling SRT
To provide for additional nitrifying bacteria to handle
peak TKN loading
To account for nitrogen loadings resulting from return
Safety factor (peak to average TKN l load)
A ratio of 1.3 to 1.5 is not unusual

Effect of return flows need to be considered

Food to microorganism ratio F/M

For BOD removal F/M range from 0.04 g substrate/g biomass.d

for extended aeration to 1.0 g/g.d for high rate processes

Volumetric organic loading rates

Associated with requiring a minimum aeration tank
volume that has proved to be adequate for treatment
of domestic ww.

Not adequate for predicting effluent quality.

Sludge Production

Critical for design of the sludge handling and

disposal/reuse facilities

If sludge handling facilities are undersized

Sludge will accumulate in AS process

Compromise treatment performance

Excess solids will exit in the effluent

(violating discharge limits)
To determine sludge production
1. based on observed sludge production yield from
published data or from similar facilities.

Yobs = gVSS /g substrate consumed

Yobs value will depend on whether substrate is defined as


2. based on the actual AS process design

Equation 8-20

**** Nitrifying bacteria

Oxygen Requirements
bCOD mass balance O2



Oxygen is also consumed for endogenous respiration
and the amount depends on the system SRT

BOD removal without nitrification Components

A+B in eq 8-20

BOD removal with nitrification


NOx : is the amount of TKN Components A+B+C

oxidized to nitrate in eq 8-21
To determine NOx

A nitrogen mass balance for the system that accounts for

the influent TKN, nitrogen removed for biomass synthesis
and un-oxidized effluent nitrogen

Unless careful ww characterization is done, non-

biodegradable particulate and soluble nitrogen (nbpON and
nbsON) are neglected

Results in slightly higher NOX concentration (5-15%)

Based on the assumption that biomass (C5H7NO2)
contains 0.12 g N/g biomass

NOx= nitrogen oxidized, mg/l
TKNo= influent TKN concentration, mg/l
Ne= effluent NH4-N concentration, mg/l
Nutrient requirements
Inorganic nutrient (macro and micro), organic nutrients (growth

Principal nutrients, Nitrogen and Phosphorous

Based on the C5H7NO2 for composition of cell biomass

Nitrogen required is 12.4 percent by weight (14gN/113g biomass)

Phosphorous requirement is 1.5 to 2.0 percent by weight of the

cell biomass, usually assumed to be 1/5 of nitrogen value

However these are typical values because it has

been shown that the percentages of nitrogen and phosphorous
in cell tissue varies with SRT and environmental conditions.
The amounts of nutrients required can be
estimated based on daily biomass production
rate (terms A+B+C, eq 8-21)

As a general rule, for SRT values greater than

7d about 5 g nitrogen and 1 g phosphate will
be required per 100 g BOD to provide excess
Process Control
Principal approaches to process control are:
maintaining suitable dissolved oxygen levels the aeration
Regulating the amount of return activated sludge (RAS)
Controlling waste activated sludge (WAS)

Parameters mostly used for control of AS process are:


Routine microscopic observation
for early detection of changes that might negatively
impact sludge settling and process performance
Dissolved oxygen control

Ro AOTR (actual oxygen transfer rate at field conditions, kgO2/h

Empirical equations (eq 5-70) compute SOTR

( standard oxygen transfer rate in tap water at 20C and zero dissolved oxygen,

Where E is the efficiency of aerator

In practice, the dissolved oxygen concentration in
aeration tank should be maintained at 1.5-2.0 mg/l in
all areas of the aeration tank.

Higher DO concentrations >2.0 mg/l may improve

nitrification rates in reactors with high BOD load

DO above 4mg/l do not improve operation

significantly , but increase the aeration cost
RAS control
The purpose of return activated sludge is to:
Maintain a sufficient concentration of activated sludge in the
aeration tank to achieve required level of treatment.

Return sludge pumping rate of 50-75% of the average

design wastewater flow rate are typical

Return sludge concentrations from secondary clarifiers

range typical from 4000 t0 12,000 mg/l
To calculate RAS (QR) or R (QR/Q)
1. Settleability
2. Sludge blanket level control
3. Mass balance on secondary clarifier and aeration tank

1. Settleability
Return sludge pumping rate is set to equal the
percentage ratio of:
Volume of occupies settleable solids after 30 min of
settling / volume of clarified liquid (supernatant)

For example if the:

Volume of occupied solids after 30min=275 ml
The percentage ratio= (275/725)*100=0.38

For plant flow of 2m3/s, the return sludge rate

should be 0.38 * 2 m3/s=0.76 m3/s
3. Mass balance analysis

Mass balance around the settling tank


Assume the sludge blanket level in

the settling tank is constant
Mass balance around the aeration tank

The solids entering the tank will equal the

solids leaving the tank

The SVI can be used to approximate XR

xR= 106/SVI
Sludge wasting

To maintain a given SRT, the excess sludge produced each

day must be wasted.

The most common practice is to waste sludge from the return

sludge line because RAS is more concentrated and requires
smaller waste sludge pump.

Wasted sludge can be discharged to the primary sedimentation

tank for co-thickening, to thickening tank or to other sludge
thickening facilities.

An alternative method of wasting is

withdrawing ML directly from the aeration tank
or aeration tank effluent pipe.
If wasting is from return sludge

If it is assumed that the concentration of solids in effluent from the

settling tank is low,
If wasting is from the aeration tank and the solids in the settled effluent
are again neglected
Oxygen Uptake Rates (OUR)
Microorganisms use oxygen as they consume the
substrate. The rate at which they use oxygen, is knows
as the OUR; it is a measure of biological activity.

SOUR (respiration rate) is a measure of the amount of

oxygen used y microorganisms and is reported as

It has been shown that SOUR and the final effluent COD
can be correlated, thereby allowing prediction of final
effluent quality during.

SOUR can be used to assess the presence of

toxic or inhibitory substances in influent ww.
Microscopic Observations

Routing microscopic observations provide valuable

monitoring information.

Information on changes in floc size and density, status of

filamentous organism growth in the floc, presence of
Nocardia bacteria, the type and abundance of higher life
forms such as protzoans and rotifers.

Changes in these characteristics can provide an indication

of changes in ww characteristics or of an operational
A decrease in the protozoan population is indicative
of DO limitations, operations at a lower SRT or
inhibitory substances in the wastewater.

Early detection of filamentous or Nocardia growth

will allow time for corrective action to be taken to
minimize bulking and foaming problems.
Settling characteristics
Settling characteristics of the MLSS must be considered for
the design of secondary clarifier for liquid solids separation.

To quantify settling characteristics:

SVI ; volume of 1g of sludge after 30 min of settling
Sample is placed in 1-2 l cylinder and measuring the settled
volume after 30 min and the corresponding sample MLSS

SVI= Settled volume of sludge (ml/l)/suspended solids, mg/l

SVI values below 100 is desired

SVI above 150 are typically associated with
filamentous growth
Secondary clarification

Design of secondary sedimentation tank is based on

surface overflow rate and solids loading rate.

Attentions should be given to peak events and use of

safety factor are important design consideration.

SLR= ((Q+QR) * X) / A

A= clarifier cross sectional area, m2

common process control parameters used for
operating an activated sludge treatment plant.

A. sight and smell

B. dissolved oxygen/pH/temperature
C. 30 minute settling test and settling curve
D. sludge volume index (SVI)
E. sludge age
F. F:M ratio
H. return activated sludge (RAS) flow and concentration
I. waste activated sludge (WAS) and concentration
J. mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS of MLVSS)
K. clarifier sludge depths
I. microscope
Operational Problems

Bulking sludge

Rising sludge

Nocardia foam
Bulking sludge condition: is a condition in MLSS with poor
settling characteristics has developed, which defines a condition in the
clarifier that can cause high effluent suspended solids and poor
treatment performance

The MLSS does not compact or settle well and floc

particles are discharged with clarifier effluent. 2

Two principal types of bulking problems:

1. Filamentous bulking (Predominant type of bulking ): caused by

growth of filamentous organisms or organisms that can grow in
filamentous under adverse conditions

Filamentous organisms are a group of thread-like

organisms .
2. Viscous bulking, caused by an excessive amount of extracellular bio-
polymer, which produces a sludge with a slimy, jelly like consistency.
As biopolymers are hydrophilic, the activate sludge is highly water

The resultant sludge has low density with low settling velocities and poor

Increased surface area to mass ratio

Many types of filamentous bacteria exist, its classification is based on

morphology (size and shape of cells), length and shape filaments,
staining responses and cell inclusions.
filamentous organisms are very competitive at low substrate
concentration whether it be organic substrates, DO, or

Thus, highly loaded complete mix AS or low DO(<0.5mg/l)

operating conditions provide an environment more favorable

Table 8-8
The growth of filamentous organisms can
occur due to the following conditions:
A. Low dissolved oxygen
B. Low food to microorganism (F/M) ratio
C. Low pH
D. Nutrient deficiency
E. Excessive grease
F. Hydrogen sulfide ; Beggiatoa and Thiothrix grow well on
fermentation products such as VFA and reduced sulfur
compounds (sulfides and thiosulfiate) , that would be found
in septic wastewater
For control of bulking, consideration should be given to:

1. Wastewater characteristic
2. Dissolved oxygen content
3. Process loading
4. Return and waste sludge pumping rates
5. Internal plant overloading
6. Clarifier operation
Wastewater characteristics
Certain components found in ww (lipids and dissolved
sulfides) or absence of certain components, such as trace
elements, can lead to the development of a bulked

Quantity of nitrogen or phosphorus in ww should be

checked, especially if industrial wastes are being
introduced into the system (intermittently or continuously)
because limitation of both or either favor bulking.

Wide fluctuations in pH are also known to be


Variations in organic waste loads due to batch type

operation can also lead to bulking.
Dissolved Oxygen concentration

Limited dissolved oxygen has been noted more

frequently than any other cause of bulking.

2mg/l of DO should be maintained:

increase aeration/mixing
reduce SRT, to reduce the oxygen demand

If 2mg/l DO cannot be maintained, installation of

improvements to the existing aeration system may be
Process loading
SRT should be checked to make sure that it is within
the range of generally accepted value

Complete mix systems with long SRTs and subsequent

low F/M ratio experience filamentous growth

Wastewater feeding regime (continuous or intermittent,

eg. SBR)

Internal plant overloading

To avoid internal plant overloading, recycle loads
should be controlled so they are not returned to the
plant flow during times of peak hydraulic and
organic loadings.
Clarifier operation
Poor settling is often a problem in center feed circular
tanks where sludge is removed from the tank directly
under the point where the mixed liquor enters.

Sludge may actually be retained in the tank for many

hours rather than desired 30 min and cause localized
septic condition

Changes must be made at inlet feed and sludge

withdrawal equipments
Temporary control measures
Chlorine and hydrogen peroxide may be used to provide
temporary help.

Chlorination of return sludge has been practiced quite extensively

Chlorination is effective in controlling bulking cause by

filamentous growth, it is ineffective when bulking is hydrous

Chlorination normally results in the production of a turbid effluent

until the sludge is free of filamentous bacteria

uses of chlorine raised issues about the

formation of THM
Problem Probable cause Corrective action
Thick, greasy dark- tan Filamentous organisms Increase WAS rate (not more than 10% per day,
foam covering most of (Nocardia, M. parvicella) to reduce MCRT ) Normal filamentous control
the aeration basin surface, with chlorine or peroxide must include
and carries over to the treatment (in water spray) and removal of
clarifier (and sometimes surface scum (foam) in addition to RASS/MLSS
over the basin sidewalls). as these organisms tend to concentrate in the
foam. Check MLVSS and F/M ratio to optimize
process parameters.

Dark brown, almost black a) Anaerobic conditions a) Check DO levels in basin, and increase
sudsy foam with detectable within the aeration aeration / mixing. Reduce organic loading if
septic or sour odor. Mixed basin. possible.
liquor is also very dark b) Industrial waste b) Investigate pre-treatment strategies.
brown to black in color. containing dyes or inks.

Modest amount of fresh, Not a problem! Usually a

light tan foam. sign of a well operated
Rising Sludge
Sludge of good settling characteristics may be observed to
rise or float to the surface of clarifier.

Why? Denitrification
Nitrate and nitrites in the wastewater are converted to
nitrogen gas, as nitrogen gas is formed in the sludge layer,
much of it is entrapped in sludge mass and the sludge
mass becomes buoyant and rises or floats to the surface.

Rising sludge can be differentiated from bulking sludge by

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

I increasing the RAS withdrawal rate from the clarifier to

reduce the detention of the sludge in the clarifier.

Decreasing the SRT to bring the AS out of nitrification

where possible, increase the speed of the sludge

collecting mechanism in the settling tanks.
Nocardia foam
Two bacteria genera, Nocardia and Microthrix parvicella ,
are associated with foaming in AS process. These
organisms have hydrophobic cell surfaced and attach to
air bubbles, where they cause foam.

Both types can be identified under microscopic


Nocardia has filamentous structure, and the filaments

are very short and are contained within the floc.
Microthrix parvicella has thin filaments extending from the

Foam production can occur with both diffused and

mechanical aeration but is more pronounced with diffused
aeration and with higher air flow rates.

Aeration tank foaming can lead to foaming in anaerobic and

aerobic digesters that receives the WAS.

The presence of Nocardia FOAM has been associated with

the presence Nocardia Microthrix that is associated with fats
and edible oils in ww.
Problem Probable cause Corrective action
White, stiff, billowing or sudsy a) Start-up or high BOD shock a) Increase RAS or decrease WAS, do not waste until
foam covering a large part of load condition resulting in MLSS level comes up to proper F/M range. Maintain
or the entire aeration basin. high F/M and low MCRT adequate DO levels (1 to 3 mg/l).

b) Excessive wasting or b) Reduce wasting and adjust RAS until normal

hydraulic washout. conditions are reached.
Segregate storm water lines from process water
Foaming collection system.
Divert excessive flows to collection basin if
over possible for later treatment.
Add hydraulic equalization basin.
tanks c) Toxic wastes or c) Re-establish activated sludge organisms.
temperature shock. Waste sludge from plant if possible. Re-seed if
possible (bioaugmentation). Re-establish normal
temperature if possible or adjust MCRT if situation is
Causes to continue.
control d) RAS flow too low or off.
d) Re-establish adequate RAS rate.
e) Excessive dairy fats,
detergents or other e) Pre-treat with anti-foam or DAF. Improve primary
foaming materials or oils and grease removal. Consider bioa-
surfactants. ugmentation to more aggressively degrade waste
Problem Probable cause Corrective action
Shiny, thin, dark tan Aeration basin * Increase WAS rate (not more than 10% per
foam on much of aeration approaching under loaded day) until process approaches normal control
basin surface. (low F/M) condition due parameters and only a modest amount of l
to insufficient sludge light tan foam remains on aeration basin
wasting (too many solids surface.
in the system).
Thick, greasy dark- tan Aeration basin is critically Increase WAS rate (not more than 10% per
foam covering most of the under loaded (excessive day) until the excess solids are removed from
aeration basin surface. solids due to insufficient the system and normal balance is restored.
wasting) Check MLVSS, MCRT and F/M ratio to optimize
process parameters.
Activated Sludge Process
Lecture no. 11
The use of selectors
Selectors can be used to control filamentous bulking
and improve sludge settling characteristics

The concept of a selector is the use of a specific

bioreactor design that favors the growth of floc forming
bacteria instead of filamentous bacteria to provide an
activated sludge with better settling and thickening

The high substrate concentration in the

selector favors the growth of non-
filamentous organism
Figure 8-15
A selector is a small
tank with 20-60 min Figure 8-21
contact time or a series
of tanks in which the
incoming wastewater is
mixed with return
sludge under aerobic,
anoxic and anaerobic
Selectors are designed as separate reaction stage for
complete mix reactor or as individual compartments in a
plug flow system

Design of selectors are based on:

kinetics (high F/M) ration

A series of reactors at relatively low HDT (minutes) is used

to provide high soluble substrate concentrations, in contrast
to feeding influent to aeration tank with HDT values on the
order of hours (Figure 8-15)
First reactor F/M, 12gCOD /g MLSS.d
Second reactor, 6g COD/ g MLSS.d
Third reactor, 3 gCOD/g MLSS.d
(Jenkins et al. 1993)

High DO concentration is needed

Disadvantage of aerobic selectors

Does not reduce the oxygen requirements
Requires a complex aeration system to
supply the maximum oxygen demand
Design of selectors are based on:
kinetics (high F/M) ratio (covered previously)
Metabolic based selectors
With biological nutrient removal processes improved
sludge settling characteristic and minimal filamentous
bacteria growth has been observed.

Filamentous bacteria cannot use nitrate or

nitrite for an electron acceptor, thus yielding a
significant advantage to denitrifying floc forming

Filamentous bacteria do not store

polyphosphates and thus cannot consume
acetate in the anaerobic contact zone in
biological phosphorus removal design, giving an
advantage for substrate uptake by PAOs
For high F/M or anaerobic selectors, the
resultant mixed liquor SVI may be in the range of
65-90 ml/g

More commonly (for anoxic selector) a range of

100-120 ml/g prevails
Processes for BOD removal
and Nitrification
Complete mix activated sludge process

For computation approach (table 8-15)

Example 8-3, page 756 (metcalf and Eddy, 2003)

Very very important

Sequencing batch reactor
Applies intermittent operation activated sludge process.
Incorporates all the unit operation and process usually
associate with the conventional treatment of activated
sludge (primary sedimentation, biological oxidation and
secondary sedimentation ) in a single tank.

These processes and operations simply become

sequences in time and not separate units as in the
conventional continuous flow AS.

The process consists of complete mix

reactors where all treatment stages occur.
Through establishment of operational cycle
with defined durations
Staged AS process
AS process can be designed with baffle walls to intentionally
create a number of complete mix AS zones operating in

For the same reactor volume, reactors in series

can provide greater treatment efficiency than a
single complete mix reactor or provide a greater
treatment capacity.
Alternative process configurations for BOD removal and
nitrification are presented in table 8-18 (metcalf and
Eddy, 2003)

Process selection consideration for BOD removal and

nitrification are presented in table 8-19
BOD removal and nitrification; process design
Processes for Biological
Nitrogen Removal
Biological nitrogen removal
Aerobic Zone (where biological nitrification occur)

Anoxic volume or time (for denitrification to take place)


Electron donor for Nitrate reduction


Influent wastewater
Endogenous respiration
External carbon source
Suspended growth biological nitrogen removal process
I. Single sludge
Means only one solids separation device (secondary clarifier)
AS tank may be divided into different zones of anoxic and
aerobic conditions and mixed liquor can be pumped from one
zone to another (internal recycle)

II. Two sludge

The system consists of an aerobic process for nitrification
followed by an anoxic process for deniridication, each with its
own clarifier (producing two sludges.
I. Single sludge
According to whether the anoxic zone is located before,
after, or within the aerobic nitrification zone:
simultaneous nitrification-denitrification (SNdN)
Denitrificaiton rate is affected by:
rbCOD concentration
MLSS concentration
Post anoxic may operated with or without external carbon

Without external carbon source, post-anoxic process

depend on the endogenous respiration of AS to provide
electron donor for nitrate reduction.

Denitrification rate is much slower by a factor of 3-8

compared to pre-anoxic that use influent ww as carbon
Long detention time would be needed in
this type of post-anoxic process to achieve
adequate nitrate removal efficiency
simultaneous nitrification-denitrification

Mechanisms of combined nitrification and


regions of low DO or zero DO concentration may be

present within the basin as a function of the mixing
regime (especially with mechanical aerators).

Activated sludge floc can contain both aerobic and

anoxic zones.
For SNdN nitrification and
denitrification rates should be
both at less than optimal levels

The nitrification rate is lower due to the low DO


Denitrification rate is lower due to substrate

consumption in the aerobic portion of the floc
Preanoxic nitrification/denitrification process is used
most often

1. the benefits of the selector operation for control
of bulking sludge
2. The production of alkalinity before the nitrification
3. The ability to convert an existing biological
treatment system to nitrogen removal with
relatively short to moderate basin detention time.
Key design parameters that affect the amount of
nitrogen removed are:
1. Anoxic zone detention time
2. Mixed liquor volatile suspended solids
3. Internal recycle rate and return sludge flow
4. Influent BOD or bCOD concentration
5. The readily bCOD fraction (rbCOD)
6. Temperature.
X (bCOD)
Y (fraction of rbCOD)

X (bCOD)
Higher Y
Higer denitrification
Process design consideration

Anoxic/Aerobic reactor design consideration

The design of the anoxic zone volume and the determination

of the amount of nitrogen removal are generally based on
mass balances for nitrogen and a commonly used design
the specific denitrification rate (SDNR) gNO3-N/g MLVSS. d

SDNR is the nitrate reduction rate in the anoxic tank

normalized to the MLSS concentration.
The amount of nitrate removed in the anoxic tank is
described by:

NOX= Nitrate removed, g/d

Vanox= anoxic tank volume,m3

Values of SDNR observed for pre-anoxic tanks in full

scale installations have ranged from:
0.04 to 0.42 gNO3-N/g MLVSS. d
Based on observed denitridication rates in full scale
plants, empirical relationships have been developed.
One commonly used (Burdick et al., 1982)

F/M= g BOD applied/ MLVSS. D

Based on data collected anoxic/aerobic processes at
mixed liquor temperatures of 20-25C
These empirical equations give
conservative SDNR estimate
since SDNR depends on a
number of site specific factors
Design SDNR values at 20C are presented on figures below.

F/Mb= BOD F/M ratio based on active biomass concentration, gBOD /g biomass
Q= influent flowrate, m3/d
So= influent BOD concentration, mg/l
Vanox= anoxic volume, m3
Xb=anoxic zone biomass
The values are general and can be used for ww with different fractions
of rbCOD and inert non biodegradable volatile solids.
SDNRb values are based only on the active heterotrophic
biomass concentration in the mixed liquor, so the rates are
applicable to many situation regardless of the amount of
non-biodegradable solids in the mixed liquor and the SRT.

Temperature correction

= temperature coefficient (1.026)

T=temperature, C
Correction for internal recycle (IR)
IR ratio; recycle flowrate/influent wastewater flowrate
At higher IR ratios, the influent rbCOD is diluted more in the anoxic
reactor by mixed liquor from the aerobic reactor, resulting in lower
denitrification rate.


To compute needed IR ratio

Nitrogen mass balance

Kg/d Nitrate Nitrate in Nitrate in Nitrate in

produced in = internal + return Activate
effluent + sludge (RAS)
aerobic zone recycle

All of influent TKN is biodegradable
Effluent soluble organic nitrogen concentration is
ignored, the nitrate produces is contained in the total
flow leaving the aerobic zone, which includes internal
recycle, RAS and effluent flows
Step-feed Anoxic/Aerobic Process

For nitrogen removal, wastewater is introduced at several

feed point. In most cases, where a step feed process in in
place for BOD removal and nitrification, it will be relatively
easy to upgrade it to a step feed anoxic/aerobic biological
nitrogen removal
Intermittent aeration process
Long SRT such as oxidation ditch (extended aeration system), may
employ intermittent aeration to accomplish both nitrification and
denitrification in a single tank. During, the aeration off period, the
aeration tank operates essentially as an anoxic reactor as nitrate is

During the anoxic period, the tank operation is similar a preanoxic tank
because influent BOD is added continuously to drive denitrification

Intermittent aeration systems typically are operated with SRT values in

the range of 18-40 days and HDT in excess of 16 h.

During the anoxic reaction,

aeration is stopped, and submerged mixer is turned on, to
accomplish proper mixing.
DO and nitrate are depleted and the ammonia concentration
Sequencing batch reactor process

In the SBR process nitrate removal can be accomplished by :

1. nitrate reduction by using a mixed non aerated fill perios
2. Cycling aeration on/off during the react period (driven
mainly by endogenous respiration) and
3. Operation at a low DO concentration to encourage SNdN.

Denitrification during a mixed non-aerated fill period

provides the most efficient means of nitrate removal and
also provides a selector operation to prevent filamentous
sludge bulking.

Most of the nitrate produced during the previous aerobic

cycle remain in the SBR tank because decant volume is
only 20-30 percent of the total tank volume. The mass of
nitrate remaining after decant can be reduced during the
fill period if sufficient BOD and time are available
Alternative process configurations for biological nitrogen
removal is presented in table 8-24 and 8-25

Process selection consideration are presented in table 8-

23 (metcalf and Eddy,2003)
Process design parameter