You are on page 1of 21

Secondary (Biological) Treatment:

Activated Sludge

PAPR 3531

1
Basic Description
The activated sludge process:
Is a form of aerobic biological treatment for reducing
soluble BOD (dissolved organic matter)
Involves the suspension of microorganisms within the
wastewater in a reactor (aeration tank or basin) -- A
suspended growth process
Recycles a portion of the microorganisms back into the
reactor, which decouples micro-organism retention time
(solids retention time) from hydraulic residence time
[microorganism concentration is independent of hydraulic
residence time]


2
Objectives for Activated
Sludge Treatment (AST)
At a minimum, objectives are the
Significant reduction (85 to >95% removal) in
BOD concentration (low BOD in treated effluent)
Production of a sludge with good settling and
compaction properties (low TSS in clarified
effluent)
NPDES permits for municipal sewage treatment and
industrial wastewater treatment routinely specify
discharge limits on BOD and TSS
3
Terminology
The term activated sludge refers to both the
treatment process and the microorganisms
As to the latter meaning, there are synonyms:
activated sludge = biological sludge = secondary
sludge = sludge = mixed liquor = bacteria =
microorganisms = microbes = bugs = biosolids =
solids = biomass

4
Abbreviations and Acronyms
HRT = Hydraulic residence time
SRT = Solids retention time
F/M or F:M = Food-to-Microorganism ratio
MLSS = Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids concentration
MLVSS = Mixed Liquor Volatile Suspended Solids
concentration
RAS = Return activated sludge
WAS = Waste activated sludge
5
AST Design Parameters
Solids Retention Time (SRT) - aka: sludge age,
mean cell residence time (MCRT)
Food-to-Microorganism ratio (F/M)
Hydraulic Residence Time (HRT)
Volumetric Loading of BOD (VBL)
Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS)
concentration or Mixed Liquor Volatile Suspended
Solids (MLVSS) concentration
Return Activated Sludge (RAS) percentage or ratio
6
Complete-Mix AST Process Diagram
Aeration Tank

Clarifier
Q, S
o
, X
o

Influent to AST
S, X, V
at
Q+Q
R
, S, X
Q-Q
W
, S
e
, X
e

Discharged Effluent
Waste Activated Sludge (WAS)
Q
R
, S
R
, X
R

Return Activated Sludge (RAS)
Q
W
, S
w
, X
w
Pump
Aerators/Mixers
Q is flow rate
S is substrate (BOD
5
) concentration
X is microorganism concentration
V is volume

Note: Primary treatment (primary clarifier) is not shown.
7
Hydraulic Residence Time (HRT)

HRT is the average residence time of wastewater in
the aeration tank

HRT = 24 V
at
/ Q Units: hrs
Where
V
at
= Volume of aeration tank (10
6
gallons or MG)
Q = Flow rate of wastewater influent to aeration
tank (10
6
gal/day or MGD)
Note: By convention, RAS flow (Q
R
) is not
considered in calculating HRT


8
Solids Retention Time (SRT)
SRT is the average time the microorganisms are retained in the aeration tank

SRT = (Biosolids in System) / (Rate of Biosolids Loss from System)

SRT = (MLVSS V
at
)/(Q
w
X
w
+ Q
e
X
e
) Units: days

Where
MLVSS = Mixed liquor volatile suspended solids concentration in aeration tank (mg/L)
V
at
= Volume of aeration tank (10
6
gallons or MG)
Q
w
= WAS flow rate (10
6
gal/day or MGD)
X
w
= Volatile suspended solids (VSS) concentration in WAS (mg/L)
Q
e
= Effluent flow rate (MGD) (Recall Q
e
= Q - Q
w
)
X
e
= Effluent volatile suspended solids (VSS) concentration (mg/L)
Note that SRT can be calculated using MLSS and TSS instead. Also, solids in the
secondary clarifier(s) are sometimes included in the calculation.






9
Food-to-Microorganism (F/M) ratio
F/M is the amount of BOD to which a unit mass of biosolids is
exposed on a daily basis (loading based on microorganisms)

F/M = (Q S
o
) / (MLVSS V
at
) Units: lb BOD/lb MLVSSday
Where
Q = Influent flow (MGD)
S
o
= Influent BOD
5
concentration (mg/L), post primary clarifier
MLVSS = Mixed liquor volatile suspended solids concentration in aeration tank (mg/L)
V
at
= Volume of aeration tank (MG)
Note that F/M can be calculated using MLSS instead.
Note: F/M and SRT are inversely related



10
Volumetric BOD Loading (VBL)
The volumetric BOD (organic) loading is the amount
of BOD applied to a unit volume of aeration tank:
VBL = 8.34 (Q S
o
) / V
at
Units: lb BOD/1000 ft
3
day
Where
Q = Influent flow (MGD)
S
o
= Influent BOD
5
concentration (mg/L)
V
at
= Volume of aeration tank (1000 ft
3
)

11
Return Activated Sludge (RAS) Recycle Ratio
RAS flow expressed as a percentage of the
influent wastewater flow
R = (Q
R
/Q) 100 Units: %
Where
Q
R
= RAS flow (MGD)
Q = Influent flow (MGD)




12
Common AST Types
Conventional: Complete mix
Conventional: Plug flow
Extended aeration
Step feed
Contact stabilization
Oxidation ditch
High-purity oxygen (e.g., UNOX, OASES)
Sequencing batch reactor


13
Design Values for Common AST Types
F/M Vol. Loading Reactor * Reactor *
AST SRT
$
(lb BOD/lb (lb BOD/ MLSS HRT RAS Flow
Type (days) MLVSS day) 1000 ft
3
day) (mg/L) (hrs) (% of influent)
High-Purity Oxygen 1 - 4 0.5 - 1.0 80 - 200 2000 - 5000 1 - 3 25 - 50
Contact Stabilization^ 5 - 10 0.2 - 0.6 60 - 75 1000 - 3000 0.5 - 1 25 - 150
Conv. Complete Mix 3 - 15 0.2 - 0.6 20 - 100 1500 - 6000 3 - 5 25 - 100
Conv. Plug Flow 3 - 15 0.2 - 0.4 20 - 40 1000 - 3000 4 - 8 25 - 75
Step Feed 3 - 15 0.2 - 0.4 40 - 60 1500 - 4000 3 - 5 25 - 75
Seq. Batch Reactor 10 - 30 0.04 - 0.10 5 - 15 2000 - 5000 15 - 40 NA
#
Oxidation Ditch 15 - 30 0.04 - 0.10 5 - 15 3000 - 5000 15 - 35 75 - 150
Extended Aeration 20 - 40 0.04 - 0.10 5 - 15 2000 - 6000 20 - 35 50 - 150
Table based on Metcalf & Eddy (2003) and Water Pollution Control Federation (1987) for treatment of municipal wastewater
^MLSS and HRT values shown are for the contact tank. For stabilization tank, MLSS =4000 - 10,000 mg/L and HRT =2 - 6 hours.
* Reactor =Aeration tank
#
NA =not applicable
$
Based on solids in aeration tank only
14
AST in the North American
Pulp and Paper Industry
Of mills with onsite biological treatment:
In the US, about 40% have AST
In Canada, about 65% have AST
As to types of AST in the industry:
In the US, a large majority are either complete
mix or extended aeration
In Canada, high-purity oxygen and sequencing
batch reactors are much more common than in
the US

15
Complete Mix AST
In the ideal, concentrations of microbes and BOD,
and thus oxygen demand, are uniform
throughout aeration tank
Good at handling slug and toxic loads
Prone to filamentous sludge bulking (poor
settling in secondary clarifier)
16
Plug Flow AST





Is baffled or has length >> width, so have little or no
longitudinal mixing
In the ideal, more efficient than complete-mix
Variable oxygen demand along tank with high demand
(high aeration requirement) at front of tank
Not as good as complete-mix at handling slug and toxic
loads
17
Extended Aeration AST
Can be designed as complete mix or plug flow
Operates at high HRT ( 20 hrs) and high SRT
( 20 days)
Sludge production is relatively low
Can produce highly treated effluent (low BOD)
Can suffer from poor-settling pin flocs
Requires relatively large aeration tank and has
high aeration requirements
18
High-Purity Oxygen AST




Oxygen is introduced into covered, staged tanks
Highly efficient with high volumetric BOD loading,
so aeration tank relatively compact
More complex equipment to install, operate and
maintain
19
Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR)







The same tank is used in batch mode for both aeration and settling
With continuous wastewater flow there is need for a preceding
storage basin and/or more than one SBR
Low space requirement and relatively low capital cost
Relatively easy to automate but then requires higher maintenance
skills

20
AST Process Control Methods
Common approaches to activated sludge process control
Constant SRT
Constant F/M
Constant MLVSS (or MLSS) concentration
Constant RAS (constant flow rate or constant recycle ratio)
Choice based on
AST performance
Variability of BOD load
Ease of implementation
Operator preference
21