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Mixed liquor suspended solids

Mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) is the concen- Environmental engineering focuses on the particles sus-
tration of suspended solids, in an aeration tank during the pended in water and the suitable operation of water treat-
activated sludge process, which occurs during the treat- ment plants. Therefore, it is important to measure the
ment of waste water. The units MLSS is primarily mea- total mass of suspended solids, which is the MLSS, as
sured in are milligram per litre (mg/L), but for activated well as the mass of organic matter suspended in the ac-
sludge its mostly measured in gram per liter [g/l] which tivated sludge unit. These measurements allow engineers
is equal to kilogram per m3 [kg/m3]. Mixed liquor is to adjust the ow rate of return sludge from the secondary
a combination of raw or unsettled wastewater or pre- clarier into the secondary treatment reactor. This en-
settled wastewater and activated sludge within an aeration sures that inuent organic matter will be treated with a
tank. MLSS consists mostly of microorganisms and non- correct concentration of microorganisms.
biodegradable suspended matter. MLSS is an important
part of the activated sludge process to ensure that there
is a sucient quantity of active biomass available to con- 2 Mixed liquor volatile suspended
sume the applied quantity of organic pollutant at any time.
This is known as the food to microorganism ratio, more solids
commonly notated as the F/M ratio. By maintaining this
ratio at the appropriate level the biomass will consume The portion of the MLSS that is actually eating the in-
high percentages of the food. This minimizes the loss coming food is referred to as the Mixed Liquor Volatile
of residual food in the treated euent. In simple terms, Suspended Solids (MLVSS). The volatile solids concen-
the more the biomass consumes the lower the biochem- tration in a sample of mixed liquor will consist mostly
ical oxygen demand (BOD) will be in the discharge. It of microorganisms and organic matter. As a result, the
is important that MLSS removes COD and BOD in order volatile solids concentration of mixed liquor is approxi-
to purify water for clean surface waters, and subsequently mately equal to the amount of microorganisms in the wa-
clean drinking water and hygiene. Raw sewage enters in ter and can be used to determine whether there are enough
the water treatment process with a concentration of some- microorganisms present to purify the water.
times several hundred mg/L of BOD. Upon being treated
with MLSS and other methods of treatment, the concen-
tration of BOD in water is lowered to less than 2 mg/L,
which is considered to be clean, safe to discharge to sur-
3 Separation and Removal process
face waters or to reuse water.
MLSS is separated from the treated or puried water by
The total weight of MLSS within an aeration tank can settling in a settling tank in the activated sludge process.
be calculated by multiplying the concentration of MLSS The excess sludge has to be removed from the system.
(kg/m3) in the aeration tank by the tank volume (m3).

4 Eects in water treatment

1 Overview
4.1 If content is too high
MLSS is responsible for removing the biochemical oxy- The process is prone to bulking of solids and the
gen demand make-up of a large portion of the solids that treatment system can become overloaded.
are retained in the activated sludge process within the
water treatment process. They are the active part of This can cause the dissolved oxygen content to drop;
activated sludge process. Mixed liquor suspended solids this may reduce the eciency of nitrication and the
are the solids under aeration. MLSS is measured by lter- settleability of the sludge.
ing a known volume of the mixed liquor sample, which
is the same way that suspended solids are measured in Excessive aeration will be required which wastes
wastewater. Some of the MLSS may be inorganic mate- electricity.
rial. Sometimes this may represent a large percentage of
the solids present in the wastewater. it will create thick foam on upper layer.


4.2 If content is too low the Excess amount is very low in comparison to the re-
turn amount, and for that reason many times the Excess
The process may not remove sucient organic mat- amount is neglected. In that case the formula will be :
ter from the wastewater. (Q+Q)(X') = (QX')

The sludge age may be too low to enable

6 Performance
The typical control band for the concentration of MLSS
in wastewater is 2 to 4 g/L for conventional activated Materials: Obtain a sample of mixed liquor. Transfer
sludge, or up to 15 g/l for membrane bioreactors. the sample into a laboratory in order to analyze it. Mea-
sure the volume weight of the sample. Remove two lter
One of the easiest control procedures for activated sludge papers from a desiccator and record the weight of each.
systems is the Constant Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids Place the lter holder on a vacuum ask and then place
method. In this method, the operator selects a certain another lter on top of the lter holder by using a pair of
MLSS concentration or range of mix liquor concentra- tweezers. Stir the sample of mixed liquor in order to get a
tions that produces the best euent and the highest re- good mixture for the experiment. After sample is mixed,
moval eciencies. This specic value or range must be pour 5 mL into a graduated cylinder. Turn on the vacuum
calculated depending on COD or BOD load [kg/day]. pump and pour the sample into the lter holder. After all
When the operator nds the optimum MLSS concentra- the mixed liquor has gone through, run three portions of
tion for each plant, he attempts to maintain this value by 10 mL distilled water through the lter holder to rinse
adjusting the sludge wasting or sludge excess rate. One any particles that may have stuck to the glass. Allow the
rule of thumb for activated sludge systems is that for ev- vacuum pump to run an additional three minutes. This
ery pound of BOD removed in the secondary system a will help remove any extra water from the lter before
half a pound of new solids is generated through repro- drying. Switch the vacuum pump o and remove the l-
duction of the organisms and addition of new organisms ter from the lter holder and place in the corresponding
from the inuent wastes. So, the operator tries to waste weighing dish. Repeat above process for as many trials
the proper amount of solids to keep his selected optimum as needed. Place the lter(s) into a drying oven, which is
mix liquor concentration constant. If the MLSS concen- set to 103105 C, for one hour. Upon drying, replace
tration is above the desired concentration, the wasting of lters into a desiccator for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes
the excess solids will have to be started or increased. If in the desiccator, the lters are to be weighed.
the MLSS concentration is below the desired concentra-
tion level, wasting should be decreased or stopped.
6.1 Calculations

5 Calculations MLSS (g/L) = [(A - B)][Volume of sample in Liters]

MLSS (g/L) = SV [ml/l]/SVI [ml/g] A is the sample and lter weight in gram
Where: B is the weight of the lter in gram
SVI = sludge volume index (mL/g)
SV = Volume of settled solids per 1 litre after 30 minutes
In fact SVI is a calculation from two analyses : SV30 and 7 References
0=(Q+Q)(X')-(QX'+Q X') Davis, Mackenzie Leo, and David A. Corn-
well. Introduction to Environmental Engineer-
ing. Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008.
Q = wastewater ow rate (m3 /d)
Q = return sludge ow rate (m3 /d)
X' = MLSS (kg/m3 )
Gray, N. F. Biology of Wastewater Treatment. Lon-
X' = return sludge concentration (kg/m3 )
don: Imperial College, 2004. Print.
Q = sludge wasting ow rate (m3 /d)
Davis, Mackenzie Leo, and David A. Cornwell. In-
This Equilibrium formula for settling tanks is mostly cal- troduction to Environmental Engineering. Boston,
culated for the initial ows in m3/h. This formula de- MA: WCB McGraw-Hill, 1998. Print.
scribes that the incoming amount of MLSS in a set-
tler should be equivalent to the outcoming amount of http://www.cee.mtu.edu/~{}nurban/classes/
MLSS via the return sludge ow. In normal conditions CE3502/spring12/modelreports/MLSSreport.pdf


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