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Bioaugmentation to Improve Nitrification in Activated Sludge Treatment

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Bioaugmentation is a proposed technique to improve nutrient removal in municipal wastewater treatment. Compared with commonly used nitrification/denitrification (NDN) processes, bioaugmentation may be able to reduce tankage or land requirements. Many approaches for bioaugmentation have been developed, but few studies have compared the benefits among different approaches. This paper quantifies the effectiveness of bioaugmentation processes and investigates three major “onsite” bioaugmentation alternatives: 1) the parallel-plants approach, which uses acclimated biomass grown in a nitrifying “long-SRT” (sludge retention time) plant to augment a low-SRT treatment plant; 2) the enricher-reactor approach, which uses an offline reactor to produce the augmentation cultures; and 3) the enricher-reactor/return activated sludge (ER-RAS) approach, which grows enrichment culture in a reaeration reactor that receives a portion of the recycle activated sludge. Kinetic models were developed to simulate each approach, and the benefits of various approaches are presented on the same basis with controllable parameters, such as bioaugmentation levels, aeration tank volume, and temperatures. Examples were given to illustrate the potential benefits of bioaugmentation by upgrading a “carbon-only” wastewater treatment plant to nitrification. Simulation results suggested that all bioaugmentation approaches can decrease the minimum SRT for nitrification. The parallel-plants approach creates the highest concentration of biomass but may fail at too low temperature. The ER-RAS approach likely would be more useful at lower temperature and required less reactor volume; enricher-reactor approach would likely be more advantageous in the presence of inhibitory compound(s).

Keywords: activated sludge; bioaugmentation; modeling; nitrification; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-06-01

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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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