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Open Access Toward Long Solids Retention Time of Activated Sludge Processes: Benefits in Energy Saving, Effluent Quality, and Stability

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Abstract:

The activated sludge process is the most common method of secondary municipal wastewater treatment; solids retention time (SRT) is the key control parameter for this process. Typically, operating at long SRT is considered only for nitrification, but there are additional benefits of high SRT operation. This paper presents experimental and literature evidence to demonstrate three major additional benefits of long SRT operation: increased oxygen transfer efficiency; improved biomass particle size distribution, which results in more efficient clarification with fewer effluent particles and suspended solids; and enhanced removal of many emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine disrupting compounds. This paper presents experimental results from several treatment plants that showed increasing oxygen transfer efficiency and particle size with increasing SRT, and evidence documenting improved removal of emerging contaminants and biodegradable organic carbon. A long-term survey of three treatment plants concludes that operating at higher SRT is not as energy intensive as typically assumed.

Keywords: activated sludge; emerging contaminants; energy; particle size; solids retention time; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/106143011X12989211841052

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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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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