The aeration systems of two full-scale, activated-sludge basins were compared during a period of three years, under the same operating conditions, using dynamic offgas testing. Only the material of the diffuser was different (membrane versus ceramic-tube diffusers). The investigation
has shown that, although the membrane diffusers have higher initial standard-oxygen-transfer efficiency (αSOTE) and standard-aeration efficiency (αSAE), these decreased over time, while the αSAE of the ceramic diffusers started lower, but increased slightly over the whole
A cost comparison makes clear how important it is to evaluate the aeration system under process conditions. The operating costs were the dominant factor (∼10× higher than capital costs), and operating costs were approximately 20% higher for membrane versus
ceramic diffusers. The poor performance of the membrane-tube diffusers under process conditions could be explained on the basis of the actual αAE values in the basin, not the standardized values.
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