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Fate of volatile organic compounds in municipal activated sludge plants

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The fate of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in municipal activated sludge plants was investigated at pilot and full scale. More than 80% of the mass flow of nonchlorinated compounds was observed to be biodegraded while less than 20% was removed by stripping. Conversely, 46% of the mass flow of chlorinated compounds was biodegraded and 47% was removed by stripping. Adsorption of VOCs onto waste sludge was not a significant removal mechanism. The pilot plant employed was found to effectively emulate the liquid-gas phase partitioning and overall compound removals observed in a full-scale plant. Little difference in liquid-gas phase partitioning was observed for coarse and fine pore diffusers in spite of differing mass-transfer characteristics as demonstrated by oxygen-transfer measurements. This implies that equilibrium between the liquid and gas-phase concentrations was achieved with both diffuser types. Stripping of VOCs was observed to increase with airflow; however, the extent of stripping increased at a declining rate.
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Keywords: activated sludge; aerobic treatment; biodegradation; mass transfer; priority pollutants; stripping; volatile organic compounds

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 1993

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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