Investigating the Fundamental Basis for Selectors to Improve Activated Sludge Settling

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Aerobic, anoxic, and anaerobic selectors have become popular for controlling filamentous bulking in activated sludge systems; however, selectors are not always successful. Regression analyses of data collected from 48 full-scale wastewater treatment plants, with operating selectors, provided a method for ranking the importance of selector operating and design parameters (with respect to their influence on activated sludge settleability) and suggests optimum numerical ranges for these parameters for best selector performance. Selectors do not appear to control filamentous bulking in long mean cell residence time (MCRT) plants. Further, the elimination of all selector zones may help to control bulking in these plants. However, other design/operating parameters were shown to influence activated sludge settleability in long-MCRT plants. Aerobic selectors in short-MCRT plants can control filamentous bulking, if they are small enough to produce a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) concentration gradient. Anoxic and anaerobic selectors can control filamentous bulking in short-MCRT plants, if the selector volume is large enough and/or the selector mixed-liquor suspended solids concentration is high enough. These unaerated selector systems do not appear to benefit from a BOD concentration gradient as the aerobic selectors in short-MCRT plants do. Although anaerobic/anoxic selector compartmentalization in these plants appears to improve settleability, this presumably is because of reduced selector short-circuiting.

Keywords: activated sludge; bulking; filamentous organisms; selectors

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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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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