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A gas chromatographic-based headspace biochemical oxygen demand test

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The 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) test is an established tool for measuring the concentration of biodegradable organic matter in wastewater effluents. Unfortunately, the BOD test is time consuming, labor intensive, and, due to the dilution of the wastewater, takes a relatively long time to complete. A few years ago a headspace BOD (HBOD) test was developed that avoided the need to dilute wastewater samples. A disadvantage of the original HBOD test was that the sample had to be transferred from the HBOD tube to another vessel for a dissolved oxygen measurement. This study demonstrates that it is possible to conduct HBOD tests using a gas chromatograph to measure oxygen utilization in the sealed tube and that a 3-day HBOD provides a reliable estimate of the BOD5. The HBOD3 values measured for primary and secondary clarifier effluents from an activated sludge plant were 114 and 23 mg/L; BOD5 measurements were 116 and 24 mg/L. Changes in headspace volumes did not significantly change the HBODs. Secondary settled wastewater had a HBOD5 of 83 ± 3 mg/L (mean ± SD) for headspace volumes of 10–20 mL (36–71%) in a 28-mL tube. The HBOD5 was also constant (84 ± 6 mg/L) when samples were diluted 20–60% using BOD dilution water at a fixed headspace volume of 8 mL in HBOD tubes. Nitrification increased the HBOD of nondiluted wastewaters after 4 days, although nitrification appeared to be sufficiently inhibited using a standard nitrification inhibitor. A calibration test for the HBOD was developed using a 300-mg/L glucose and glutamic acid (GGA, 50% each) solution and secondary clarifier wastewater that provided HBOD3 values similar to those obtained in the analogous BOD5 test. It is argued that the simpler procedures, added precision of GC-based protocols, and more rapid exertion of oxygen demand make the HBOD test superior to the conventional BOD test.
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Keywords: ANALYSIS; BIOCHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND; EFFLUENTS; GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY; HEADSPACE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1997-03-01

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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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