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The Role of Dispersed Nocardioform Filaments in Activated Sludge Foaming

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Activated sludge foaming caused by filamentous microorganisms is a major wastewater treatment plant operating problem. This paper presents the results of an investigation of the role of dispersed nocardioforms in activated sludge foaming. Dispersed nocardioforms had a greater propensity for foaming than floc-bound nocardioforms. The mode of effluent withdrawal from an aeration basin plays a major role in determining the relative proportion of dispersed and floc-bound nocardioforms in the activated sludge. Reactors with “trapping” features (sub-surface mixed liquor withdrawal) had significantly higher dispersed nocardioform populations than reactors with “non-trapping” features (surface mixed liquor withdrawal). High dispersed nocardioform filament concentrations were correlated with a high propensity for foaming. Cationic polymer and poly-aluminum chloride reduced foaming by flocculating dispersed nocardioforms, thereby converting them to floc-bound nocardioforms. Low non-ionic surfactant concentrations changed the relative proportions of dispersed and floc-bound nocardioforms by deflocculating floc-bound filaments and converting them to the dispersed growth form. This could act as a trigger for initiating the rapid-onset nocardioform foaming events observed at activated sludge plants.
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Keywords: activated sludge; biological foaming; dispersed nocardioforms; nocardioforms

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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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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