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Controlling Biosolids Phosphorus Content in Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal Reactors

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A methodology to reduce the phosphorus content of biosolids produced by enhanced biological phosphorus removal treatment plants was studied. The process consists of mixing phosphate-rich waste activated sludge (WAS) with either primary sludge or the supernatant from a primary-sludge gravity thickener under anaerobic conditions to induce the release of phosphate from WAS. The solubilized phosphate could then be chemically sequestered and removed from the biosolids. Bench-scale phosphate release experiments were conducted with sludge from the Nine Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant (Madison, Wisconsin) at different mixing ratios. A WAS/primary sludge or WAS/supernatant mixing ratio of 1:1 (by volume) resulted in the highest phosphate release in the batch tests. For experiments with less than 50% WAS (by volume), the total phosphate release was directly proportional to the amount of WAS added. When the mixture contained more than 50% WAS, total phosphate release was limited by the volatile fatty acids (VFAs) available. For the Nine Springs plant, optimal biosolids phosphorus could be achieved using a primary sludge/WAS mixing ratio of 1.02 kg volatile suspended solids (VSS)/kg VSS or a supernatant VFA/WAS mixing ratio of 0.028 kg VFA/kg VSS. The expected reduction in phosphorus content would be 35 and 32% if primary sludge or supernatant, respectively, were used.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2003

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  • 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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