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CE 170 Environmental Engineering

Derivation of the Dissolved Oxygen Sag Equation

Consider an element of water in a stream. We will track the element as it moves

downstream with the general flow of water.

Oxygen in atmosphere


Setting up the differential equation

The mass balance equation written out in words is:

Accumulation = In - Out + Reaction

Because we are looking at the element by itself, there is no flow of water into or out of it.
So the mass balance on oxygen becomes:

V = 0 in 0 out + ( Rate of O2 removal by biodegradation )V
+ ( Rate O2 addition from the atmosphere )V

Let's look at these two rates. The rate of O2 removal by biodegradation is:

= ( Rate of BOD decay ) = k d L
dt d

L = ultimate BOD of organics remaining in the water at any time t
kd = first-order degradation rate constant. kd is related to, but is not numerically the same
as, kBOD, the rate constant in the BOD test.

The rate of O2 transfer from the atmosphere (called reaeration) is:

DOSAG derivation.doc --- Page 1

=k r (C s C )
dt r

C = dissolved oxygen concentration (DO)
Cs = dissolved oxygen concentration at saturation, predicted from Henry's Law
kr = reaeration rate constant. This value will be related to the characteristics of the

Note that this is the same form of equation we used in the gas transfer lab. Now,
substitute the rate expressions into the mass balance.

dC dC dC
V = V+ V
dt dt d dt r

= k d L + k r (C s C )
Mathematically, it is convenient to express everything in terms of the deficit, D.

D = (Cs - C)

dD dC
= 0 = k d L k r (C s C )
dt dt

This is the basic differential equation that must be solved.

Solving the differential equation

Solving the differential equation requires the use of integrating factors. First substitute
the BOD decay equation for L.

= k d L0 e kd t k r D

+ k r D = k d L0 e k d t
This arrangement matches the standard form:

DOSAG derivation.doc --- Page 2

+ Pz = Q

So, use the integrating factor:

e kr dt = e kr t
dD k r t
( ) ( )
e + k r D e k r t = k d L0 e k d t e k r t ( )
( )
De k r t = k d L0 e ( kr kd )t

Separate variables and integrate.

d (De ) = (k )
L0 e ( kr kd )t dt
kr t

kd L0 ( k r k d )t
= +C
k t
De e
kr kd
Apply the boundary condition that at t = 0, D = D0 B B

k L 0
D0e 0 = d 0 e + C
kr kd
k L
C = D0 + d 0
kr kd
k L ( k r k d )t k L
De k r t = d 0 e + D0 d 0
kr kd kr kd
k L kd t k L krt
D = d 0 e + D0e k r t d 0 e
kr kd kr kd

DOSAG derivation.doc --- Page 3

Finally, after grouping like terms, the integrated equation is:

k L kd t
D = d 0 (
e )
e k r t + D0 e k r t
(k r k d
L0 = ultimate BOD in the water at t = 0
D0 = deficit at t = 0.

Note that both L0 and D0 are the values in the stream after any external waste streams
have been mixed in.

This equation is known as the DO sag equation (for its distinctive shape) or the Streeter-
Phelps equation, after the gentlemen who first published it in 1925.

Using the DO Sag equation

Of course, the fish aren't interested in the deficit. They want to know the concentration.
This can be calculated from:

k L kd t
C = (C s D) = C s d 0 e( )
e k r t + D0 e k r t
(k r k d

When this equation is plotting this equation with typical values, the following curve is

DO (mg/L)

0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
Distance downstream (km)
DO f rom equation Cs

We can use the DO sag equation to find the concentration at any point downstream of a
waste discharge as long as we know the travel time to that point, which is easy to
calculate if the stream velocity is known.

DOSAG derivation.doc --- Page 4

To protect fish, engineers often want to know the minimum oxygen concentration that
can be expected as a result of a waste discharge. This is called the critical point (critical
from the point of view of the fish). The travel time to the lowest point in the sag is the
critical time. Using the critical time (tc), we can easily calculate the critical deficit (Dc),

and the minimum DO concentration.

To find the critical time and deficit, differentiate the Streeter-Phelps equation and set it
equal to zero.

d k L
= 0 = d 0 e kd t e kr t + D0 e k r t
dt (k r k d

k L
0 = d 0 k d e kd t + k r e kr t D0 k r e kr t ]
kr kd
If you divide through by e k r t , bring the right hand term to the other side of the equal
sign, take the natural log of both sides, and solve for t = tc, you get:

1 kr D0 (k r k d )
t c = ln 1
k k d kd k L
d 0

To solve for the critical deficit, Dc, you could plug this expression for tc into the Streeter-

Phelps equation, but that would give you a massive algebra headache. It's easier to
realize that at the bottom of the sag, dD/dt = 0. This allows us to go back to the
differential equation.

= kd L0ekdt kr Dc = 0

Dc = d L0ekdt
Now, the minimum concentration Cmin can be calculated from: Cmin = Cs - Dc

Note that tc and Dc are single values at a specific location. If we want the DO at any

other location, we would use the Streeter-Phelps equation itself.

DOSAG derivation.doc --- Page 5


Design of Primary Treatment Units


The primary treatment system is normally selected to remove floating materials and settleable
solids present in the wastewater. This is usually achieved by screening the floating materials,
separating grits in the grit chamber and removing settlable suspended solids by gravity in a
Primary Settling Tank (PST), also designated as primary clarifier.
The primary treatment system, therefore, includes all the units of the preliminary treatment
system and the PST. The concept and design aspects of preliminary treatment system units
have been discussed in Chapter 5. This chapter, therefore, deals with the concept and design
considerations of only primary sedimentation tank with illustrative examples. Figure 6.1
shows a flow diagram of a typical primary treatment system.

Oil & Grease

Grit Trap
Bar Screen Chamber (optional) PST

..: .:
Figure 6.1
Grits Skimmings ,
Flow diagram of a typical primary treatment system.

Removal of light particles and solids slightly heavier than liquid can be achieved
by flotation as described in Section 6.5.


A primary sedimentation tank is a simple settling tank, normally rectangular or circular in

shape. This unit is provided in the domestic wastewater treatment system mainly to remove
a large portion of suspended material, which is primarily inorganic in nature. However, a
small fraction of biodegradable settleable organic matter also gets removed with inorganic
fraction. The conventional primary sedimentation tank normally removes about 60-70% of
suspended solids and 20-30% of associated BOD (organic materials) [7, 9, 11, 14, 23, 26,
28, 38, 45, 46].
Plate 6.1 shows a primary clarifier under construction.

Provision of channels with common walls in between in the case of rectangular

tanks will save the space and will be economical for large treatment plants
while a circular tank is preferred in the case of a small treatment plant for
simplicity of sludge removal.

6.1.1 Types of Settling

To design any settling tank, it is very essential to know how different particles settle in the
continuous flow tank. The following four types of settling have been classified on the
considerations of how the particles in the wastewater react with each other, and on the basis
of the distributions of their concentration in wastewater.
o Discrete settling: It assumes that particles settle as individual entities and their
concentration in suspension is considerably less.
o Flocculent settling: It assumes that particles in liquid coalesce and flocculation
occurs during settling, which increases the mass and settling rate of particles.
o Hindered or zone settling: It assumes that the concentration of particles in liquid
is high enough to create sufficient inert particle force to hinder the settling of
neighbouring particle.
o Compressed settling: It assumes that settled particles are further compressed due
to settling particles at the top layer and compression, and the concentration of particles
at the bottom layer increases as the liquid from settled particles moves up through
the particle interstices.

Depth of basin is not a factor in determining the size of particles to be removed

in case of discrete settling. In case of flocculate settling, settling velocities of
flocculating particles increase with the liquid depth.

As most of the organic suspended solids are sticky in nature, slightly heavier than water
and flocculate naturally, flocculent type of settling has been observed to predominate in the
primary sedimentation tank. Moreover, as the particles settle slowly, the tank is designed
normally for a detention time of about one to three hours.

In practice, more than one type of settling occurs simultaneously during the
sedimentation operation.

Lighter suspended materials like oil and grease, which float on the surface of
wastewater, are removed by the scum scraper/scum removal device and are
collected in the scum trough provided in a PST for final disposal.

6.1.2 Types of Primary Settling Tanks

Settling basins mainly provided for solids removal from wastewater are of the following types:
(i) Horizontal flow type: This type of PST will be either rectangular or circular in
shape. The flow in case of rectangular tank enters from one end and leaves the other
end travelling along the length of the tank. Rectangular tanks are mostly used for
large flows as the flow control is easier and they are hydraulically more stable. In
case of circular tank, the flow enters from a central feed pipe and leaves out as
effluent from the periphery of the tank. The horizontal velocity continuously decreases
as wastewater moves out towards the periphery. Overflow weir consisting of v-
notched metal plate is normally used to reduce effective overflow area. Flow control
is difficult in circular tank.
(ii) Solid contact clarifiers: The difference in this case is in terms of its flow regime.
Solids-contact clarifiers, also known as up-flow solids-contact clarifiers or up-flow
sludge-blanket clarifiers combine coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation within
a single basin. At high upward velocities near the bottom of the cone, virtually all
particles and flocs are swept upward with the flow. As the cross-sectional area of the
cone increases, the velocity of water decreases and the vector sum of velocities
reaches to zero. The movement of the particle stops and is considered 'removed'
from the wastewater.
(iii) Inclined surface clarifiers: (a) Tube settlers, (b) Parallel plate settlers
(iv) Stacked or two trays clarifiers
(v) Proprietary clarifiers


The primary sedimentation tank can be used in the wastewater treatment system to function
differently as illustrated below:
PST as a treatment unit: When the treatment plant is designed with only to remove
suspended solids as the major objective, the primary sedimentation tank will act as the main
treatment unit as shown in Figure 6.2. In such cases, the treatment system removes about 60-
70% of SS and 30-40% of BODs.

Bar Screen PST


9 9 9
Screenings Grits Sludge
Figure 6.2 Schematic diagram of a primary sedimentation tank as main treatment unit.

Load reducing unit: When a treatment plant is designed also to provide secondary treatment
of wastewater, the function of the PST will mainly be to reduce the load of inorganic content
on the following biological secondary treatment unit as illustrated in Figure 6.3.

Bar Screen PST Treatment SST

Influent ..: Effluent

~ ~


Screenings Grits Primary Secondary
Sludge Sludge
Figure 6.3 PST as a load reducing unit for secondary treatment system.

A PST functions more as a load reducing unit to the succeeding biological

treatment unit when it is designed for small HRT and large SLR.

PST as a settling unit for both primary treatment and portion of activated sludge: In
specific requirements, when a portion of activated sludge is returned to a PST to reduce the
quantity of biological sludge to the secondary reactor, the PST functions as a settling unit
for both the biological and primary sludge as shown in Figure 6.4.

Influent . Final
: : PST ~ Biological Treatment :
Portion 0 f : : Sludge : :
Activated :. J.:.,.
Sludge Wasted
Return Activated Sludge ,Sludge

Figure 6.4 PST for removal of portion of activated sludge along with primary sludge.

PST as a holding tank to reduce organic suspended solids: A PST can also be provided
as a holding tank to reduce organic suspended solids of a wastewater of a combined sewerage
system as shown in Figure 6.5. This will reduce the BOD of influent to the following
biological reactors due to removal of suspended fraction of organic matter.

Overflow from PST
Bar Screen
combined Clarified
system . Effluent

9 9
Screenings Sludge

Figure 6.5 Schematic diagram showing use of PST as holding tank

A PST is also used as a holding tank in cases of overflow from combined

sewers or storm sewers and for effective chlorination of overflow wastewater.

Advanced primary treatment: Advanced primary treatment or high rate sedimentation, or

enhanced sedimentation is employed to enhance the rapid settling of the suspended particles
by flocculation and sedimentation system. To achieve particle flocculation, normally coagulants
and polymers are added to the influent to primary clarifier. The mixer is stirred gently to
allow the flock formation. Lamella plate clarifiers are most commonly used for high rate
sedimentation. Figure 6.6 shows the flow diagram of the advanced primary treatment system.


Influent Effluent
Coagulation and
Flocculation Tank
Clarifier Sludge to be Wasted

Figure 6.6 Flow diagram of the advanced primary treatment system.

Adding chemical coagulant to the raw wastewater before the primary sedimentation tank
increases the SS, BOD and phosphorus removal efficiency. A general comparison is given
in Table 6.1.
The advantages of the high rate sedimentation are:
(i) It will reduce the size of settling units.
(ii) It will require less detention time.
(iii) It will improve the settling efficiency producing more clear effluent.

Wastewater and Treatment Concepts


Before one starts with the design and detailing of a wastewater treatment plant, one must
have a very clear understanding of the concept of what wastewater is and what its treatment
means. In simplest words, it can be said that wastewater is nothing, but the used water or
liquid waste generated by the community due to its various activities, and contains the
impurities in excess of the permitted/regulated statutory limits. Technically, however, wastewater
can be defined as any water or liquid that contains impurities or pollutants in the form of
solids, liquids or gases or their combinations in such a concentration that is harmful if
disposed into the environment.
o Impurities in wastewater are mainly due to the presence of solids in the water. The
solids may be organic or inorganic in nature and may be present in suspended,
colloidal, dissolved or in the various forms of their combinations.
o The prescribed limit or acceptable level of concentration of impurities or pollutants
is laid down by the local authorities such as a municipality or State Pollution Control
Board (SPCB) or national level authority like Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
in India.
o The final discharge of wastewater will normally be either into the body of water or
onto the land. The receiving bodies of water may be streams, lakes, ponds, canals,
rivers, seas, estuaries, etc.

The wastewater disposed onto the land ultimately reaches the subsurface water
strata/aquifer by percolation and infiltration. Thus, final disposal of wastewater
is always into a water body-surface or subsurface.


Depending upon the source of generation, wastewaters are broadly classified as domestic
wastewater and industrial wastewater.

Domestic Wastewater
Domestic wastewater, also known as municipal wastewater or sanitary wastewater or simply
sewage, is the used water, which has been discharged from the residential, commercial and
institutional zones of a city or a town or a community and collected through sewerage
system. Sometimes, partially-treated liquid wastes from small industries are also collected
and discharged into the sanitary sewers and thus included with domestic wastewater. In
general, domestic wastewater contains organic and inorganic solids and microorganisms,
mainly bacteria. The composition of wastewater will depend on the source of its generation.

Domestic wastewater, in general, is 99.9% water and contains only 0.1 % solids.

Industrial Wastewater
Normally the wastewaters generated by large and medium scale industries are called industrial
wastewaters. These wastewaters vary in quantity and quality from industry to industry and
from process to process for the same industry. In general, a majority of manufacturing
industries generate a large volume of high strength wastewaters.

As there are numerous kinds of industries and wastewater characteristics are

process dependant, comprehensive coverage of design calculations for industrial
wastewater is beyond the scope of this book.


The treatment of wastewater, in general, means the partial reduction or complete removal of
excessive impurities present in wastewater. The excessive impurities imply to the constituent(s)
concentration(s) that is more than the acceptable level(s) for final disposal or suitable reuse
and recycling of treated wastewater.
The partial reduction or complete removal of impurities depends on the intended objectives
of treatment. If the objective is to simply dispose off the final effluent into the body of water
(receiving streams), or onto the land, the concentration(s) of specific constituent(s) is reduced
only up to acceptable limits prescribed by the statutory body like Pollution Control Boards
or local authorities such as municipalities. For example, the prescribed limit of concentration
of BODs in final effluent of wastewater is 30 mg/L or less, if discharged into inland surface
water, i.e. a stream or river. So, the objective of treatment will be to remove the initial
concentration of BODs only up to 30 mg/L or less. On the other hand, to reuse the treated
wastewater in some industrial process, the concentration of specific constituent is reduced to
a particular level or completely removed as per the need.

Since impurities are normally due to the presence of solids in wastewater,

treatment of wastewater, in general, means the reduction or removal of the
solids from wastewater.


Usually, physical, chemical or biological means are applied for wastewater treatment, and
the treatment units are designed to carry out specific functions on the principles of either one
or a combination of the means employed. Based on the means used, treatment methods have
been broadly classified as unit operations and unit processes as described briefly in the
following paragraphs [9, 23, 28, 30, 38, 46].

1.3.1 Unit Operations

The means of treatment in which the application of physical forces predominates are known
as unit operations. Major treatment methods falling under this category are as follows:
o Screening
o Mixing
o Flocculation
o Sedimentation
o Floatation
o Elutriation
o Filtration
o Heat transfer and drying

1.3.2 Unit Processes

The types of treatment in which the removal of contaminants is brought about by the addition
of chemicals or the use of biological mass or microbial activities are known as unit processes.
Based on the type of agent used, these are further classified as follows:

Chemical Unit Process

Reduction or removal is brought about by means of chemical reactions by adding chemicals.
Major treatment methods falling under this category are as follows:
D Chemical neutralization: To control or adjust the system pH.
D Chemical coagulation: To remove colloidal particles by chemical destabilization
and flocculation.
D Chemical precipitation: To enhance the removal of suspended solids, phosphorous,
heavy metals and BOD in specific system conditions.
D Chemical oxidation: To remove grease, ammonia, BOD, COD and for odour control
in particular requirement.
D Chemical disinfection: To kill pathogens in influent and treated effluents.
It should be noted that: (a) chemical processes are expensive due to cost of chemicals
that are used and the expenditure that occurs in handling the large volume of sludge generated
by chemical precipitation and (b) if treatment system is designed to reuse the treated effluent,
the increase in concentration of specific constituent requires due consideration.

As chemical processes are normally not provided in conventional treatment of

domestic wastewater, design examples of chemical processes, are not covered
in this book.

Biological Unit Process

Reduction or removal of solids is brought about by microorganisms. Major treatment methods
falling under this category are classified as follows:
D Suspended growth process: Activated Sludge Process, Aerated Lagoon, Oxidation
Pond, Aerobic and Anaerobic Digesters, etc.
D Attached growth process: Trickling Filter, Rotating Biological Contactors, Bio
Towers, Up-flow Filters, etc.

A typical or conventional wastewater treatment plant essentially comprises units selected

from physical operations and biological or chemical processes in various combinations depending
upon the treatment system selected. Such plants are normally designed to remove floating
materials and inorganic and organic solids from domestic wastewater. Figure 1.1 shows a
process flow diagram of a typical conventional sewage treatment plant.

In cases, when it concerns with removal of excessive nutrient and liquid or

gaseous impurities, specific advanced treatment methods like Biological
Nitrification-Denitrification, Reverse Osmosis, Ion Exchange, Ultra Filtration,
etc. are used.

Oil and Biological Unit SST

Bar Screen Grease
~ J SW J



y PST Sludge

Oil/Grease Underdrain
Water Dryingl Beds Sludge Digester
Wastewater flow

-- Sludge
for Disposal
Effluent for
Final Disposal
PST - Primary Settling Tank, SST - Secondary Settling Tank, CCT - Chlorine Contact Tank

Figure 1.1 Process flow diagram of a typical conventional treatment plant.


The type of combination used from the available unit operations and processes for treatment
of a particular wastewater is known as the treatment system. Normally, a wastewater treatment
plant is designed for either of the following treatment systems:

1.4.1 Preliminary Treatment System

The preliminary treatment system is mainly selected to remove floating materials and large
inorganic particulate contents of wastewater that usually cause maintenance or operational
problems in primary and secondary treatments of wastewater. It is also known as pretreatment
in conventional treatment system.
The preliminary treatment system includes:
o Sump and pump unit: City/town wastewater is usually collected in a sump or
holding tank and is pumped to the higher level(s) of first treatment unit(s).
o Approach channel: To convey and dampen the flow of wastewater pumped to
treatment plant units.
o Screen chamber: To remove large size floating materials.
o Grit chamber: To remove up to 0.20 mm size suspended settleable solids of
specific gravity 2.60.
o Skimming tank (oil and grease traps): To remove excessive oil and grease from
the wastewater.
The process flow diagram of a typical preliminary treatment system is depicted in Figure 1.2.

In true sense, sump and pump house units and approach channels are not treatment
units. They can be called holding and conveying or transporting units as basically
they collect, lift and convey the wastewater.

Skimming Tank

Sump and
Pump House
Screenings ,

Flume or Other
Control Device

Oil and
Effluent for
Discharge or

Figure 1.2 Process flow diagram of a typical preliminary treatment system.

1.4.2 Primary Treatment System

The conventional primary treatment system includes all the units of the preliminary treatment
system as shown in Figure 1.2 and the Primary Sedimentation Tank (PST), usually known
as the primary clarifier. When only these units are provided for treatment, it is called
primary treatment of wastewater. Figure 1.3 shows the process flow diagram of a typical
primary treatment system.

Skimming Tank

Bar Screen


h L-~~~ To Secondary
.....11....1 Parshall Treatment or
... Channel
o o

Sump and : 0 Flume or Other o

o I Disposal
Velocity Control
Pump House

0 :

: Device
Screenings ,
Primary Sludge for
Oil and Treatment or Disposal
Figure 1.3 Process flow diagram of a typical primary treatment system.

In the primary treatment system, the removal of most of the large floating materials takes
place in the screen chamber, and most of the heavy suspended solids are separated in the
grit chamber. The primary clarifier (PST) then reduces about 60-70% of fine settleable
suspended solids, which include about 30-32% of organic suspended solids. It should be
noted that the colloidal and soluble (dissolved) organic content of wastewater is not removed
in this system.

In a conventional treatment plant, removal of biodegradable organic content of

wastewater takes place in two stages. The settleable suspended organic matter
is removed in primary clarifier by primary treatment system, while colloidal and
soluble organic fraction are removed in secondary clarifier by secondary treatment

Secondary Treatment System

After primary treatment, if wastewater is further treated for the removal of colloidal and
soluble organic matter present in wastewater, then it is called secondary treatment of wastewater.
Normally, biological processes are employed to remove the remaining colloidal and soluble
organic content as shown in Figure 1.4. The treatment system provided usually consists of
Activated Sludge Process, ASP (an aeration basin with return sludge facility) as shown in
Figure 1.4(a) or Trickling Filter (a basin with fixed-filter media filter) and Secondary Settling
Tank (SST), also known as the secondary clarifier in a conventional treatment plant as
shown in Figure l.4(b).


Influent I . . for Disposal

from I or Reuse
Preliminary I IL Return SI udge L"Ine Secondary Sludge
Treatment I - - - - - - - - - - - - - (Activated Sludge)
Primary Sludge Sludge to
(a) Secondary treatment system with activated sludge process

from I

Preliminary Secondary Sludge
Treatment (Humus)

Sludge to
(b) Secondary treatment system with trickling filter

Figure 1.4 Schematic diagram of a typical biological secondary treatment system.

Other biological treatment units usually provided for secondary treatment to cater to
specific needs, particularly for a small volume of wastewater, include:
o Waste Stabilization Ponds (also known as Oxidation Ponds)
o Oxidation Lagoons (Aerated Lagoons)
o Oxidation Ditches (Extended Aeration System)
o Rotating Biological Contactor (RBC)
o Up-flow Anaerobic Filter (UAF)
o Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB)

1. When both primary and secondary treatment systems are provided for domestic
wastewater, then it is generally known as complete treatment of wastewater,
because the quality of final effluent of domestic wastewater obtained normally
satisfies the prescribed limits set by the local authority or conforms with the
Indian standards for disposal into the receiving streams. The treatment plant
is known as conventional treatment plant.
2. When waste stabilization ponds are selected for the treatment of domestic
wastewater, then only the screen chamber is provided prior to waste stabilization
ponds. The grit chamber and primary clarifier are not required in such cases
as the settling of heavy and fine suspended solids takes place in the pond itself.

1.4.4 Tertiary or Advanced Treatment System

If the effluent from the secondary treatment system is further treated to reduce or remove
the concentrations of residual impurities, then it is called as tertiary or advanced treatment
of wastewater [12, 28, 30, 38]. The system is normally provided when it is found that:
o The quality of conventionally treated wastewater (secondary effluent) is unsuitable
to meet the limits of final disposal into the body of water or onto the land.
o The concentration(s) of residual organic materials or suspended solids require further
reduction or complete removal for specific reuse or recycling of wastewater after the
secondary treatment.
o The concentration(s) of residual nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous is high
for final disposal or reuse/recycling of wastewater.
The different techniques available for the tertiary treatment are given in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1 Different techniques for tertiary treatment

Techniques For complete removal or further reduction of

1. Granular-media filtration, Residual suspended solids
Ultra filtration and Micro-strainers
2. Biological nitrification/denitrification, Removal of nitrogen, phosphorous, chlorine and
Ion exchange and air stripping dissolved gases
3. Biological and chemical processes Residual nitrogen and phosphorous
4. Ion exchange, Reverse osmosis, Residual dissolved inorganic solids, refractory
Electro dialysis, Chemical organics, toxic and complex organic compounds
precipitation, Adsorption

The advanced treatment systems are expensive and, therefore, are normally
employed for treatment of industrial wastewater.


Selection of a particular treatment system mainly depends on the degree of treatment required
to bring the quality of treated wastewater to a permissible level of disposal or reuse. This
ensures that the final effluent is either safe for disposal or acceptable for specific reuse or
Other significant factors that will influence the selection of a treatment system are as
D Availability of funds and land at the treatment site
D The topography of land at the treatment site
D Non-availability of suitable mechanical equipment and skilled personnel for running
and maintaining the plant.

Selection of treatment system is not an easy decision to make. It is a tough job

that requires a good field experience as well as sound technical knowledge of
various unit operations and processes.

The points to keep in mind while selecting the treatment system are as follows:
1. Reduction of inorganic material component of wastewater is much easier and
cheaper than removal of organic contents of wastewater.
2. Removal of suspended solids from wastewater requires lesser time and efforts
than that of colloidal and dissolved solids.
3. In many countries, the Environmental Protection Act requires at least the
secondary treatment system for all publicly owned treatment works (POTWs)
such as municipal wastewater treatment plant, so that effluent requirements
of 30 mg/L for BODs and 100 mg/L of SS are achieved.


Major functions of treatment units as shown in Figure 1.1, which are normally provided for
conventional treatment of domestic wastewater are summarized in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2 Major functions of treatment units for conventional system of domestic wastewater

Name of treatment units Major function( s) of units

Sump and Pump Well* To collect town/city wastewater in sump wells and
to pump it to treatment units from pump wells so
that flow in treatment plant units is by gravity
Approach Channel* To dampen the wastewater flow before it is applied
to subsequent treatment units so that wastewater flow
remains as uniform as possible in the following units
Screen Chamber To remove large floating materials in wastewater to
protect the following units getting damaged by
abrasion and clogging
Grit Chamber with flow control To remove small and heavy suspended solids from
facility the wastewater
Skimming Tank To collect and remove lighter particles and oil and
(Oil and Grease trap)** grease from wastewater surface
Primary Sedimentation/Settling To remove fine suspended inorganic and settleable
Tank (PST) or Primary Clarifier organic solids (BOD) and the floating scum
Biological Treatment Unit To remove colloidal and soluble organic solids by
aerobic and anaerobic oxidation, to remove excessive
nitrogen and phosphorus content from wastewater
by nitrification-denitrification
Secondary Sedimentation/Settling To thicken and segregate biological sludge from
Tank (SST) or Secondary Clarifier wastewater
Sludge Digester To treat sludge before final disposal
Sludge Drying Beds To dry and reduce the volume of the treated sludge
by dewatering before final disposal

* In true sense, these are holding and conveying units.

** Normally not included in a conventional treatment system.

In this chapter, you have learnt the following:
o The main purpose of designing the wastewater treatment plant is to provide a suitable
system that is capable of removing the excessive impurities or pollutants found in
the influent to the desired level as prescribed by the local authorities or State Pollution
Control Boards (SPCB) for the final or treated effluent.

Comment: From the above ratios, it is seen that the maximum BOD mass loading is about
9.4 times more than the minimum mass loading and about 2 times more than the average
mass loading. Thus, such variations in mass loading require due consideration in the design
of treatment units.


The data determined through the research and laboratory scale model studies as well as those
obtained from the operational experience of field and pilot scale wastewater treatment plants
have been used as guideline values for designing a new wastewater treatment facility. The
values of such guideline parameters are called design criteria and are available in the literature
[6, 9, 12, 19, 23, 28, 38, 46].

It should, however, be remembered that available design criteria are based on

the normal or atmospheric conditions of environment at which plants were
operated or the conditions at which laboratory studies were carried out. Therefore,
their use or assumptions in designing a new treatment system will presume
that the design plant will also operate under a similar set of environmental
conditions at which design criteria were determined.

If a treatment plant to be designed is to operate at different environmental

conditions, then criteria for design parameters and/or process constants should
be determined by carrying out laboratory or pilot plant studies at those required
operating conditions.

As design criteria are obtained for a particular set of conditions, you may
find different values for the same design parameters in literature.

The most frequently assumed criteria for designing a biological wastewater treatment
processes and plant units are as follows:
o Detention period or time (Hydraulic Retention Time, HRT), t or 8
o Flow through velocity (Horizontal velocity of flow), vh
o Settling velocity (terminal velocity of setting particles), Vs
o Hydraulic loading or Surface Loading Rate or Over Flow Rate (SLR or OFR)
o Weir Loading Rate (WLR)
o Volumetric loading or Organic loading (BOD or COD or VSS loading)
o Food to Microorganisms ratio, F/M
o Mean Cell Residence Time (MCRT), 8c or Solids Retention Time (SRT)
o Basin geometry-Length: Breadth: Depth ratios, L : B : D (for rectangular tanks)
-Diameter and side water depth (for circular tank)

As the design calculations are normally based on the assumptions of the above mentioned
design criteria, it is utmost important to have a very clear understanding of the concept of
these design criteria and their significance in determining the capacities, dimensions and cost
of treatment units. These design criteria are briefly discussed as follows.

2.5.1 Detention Time (Hydraulic Retention Time, HRT)

Detention time is the length of time a particle or a unit volume of wastewater remains in a
reactor. It is an important design parameter that is used for computing the volume and sizing
the treatment plant units.

A reactor is a tank or basin or any container in which treatment operation or

process is carried out.

Concept: If a unit volume of wastewater (say 1.0 ml) enters a rectangular basin at time t
=0 second and leaves the basin after 60 seconds, then the hydraulic detention time t
(or Hydraulic Retention Time, HRT) of that basin is 60 seconds. Ideally, it is also the time
taken by the wastewater to fill up the empty tank up to the outlet level. This concept is
illustrated in Figure 2.4.

(a) time, t = 0 s (b) time, t =30 s (c) time, t = 60 s

Volume of wastewater of 1 ml with thickness oX moves from

inlet to outlet of a tank in 60 seconds
Figure 2.4 Schematic diagram for concept of detention time.

For example, a particle moving at rate of 1 mlmin, in a tank of IO-metre length, will take
an average of 10 minutes of time duration from the time it entered the unit till it moved out
of the unit. The detention time for this tank is 10 minutes and for a continuous flow of
10 m 3/min, the liquid volume or the capacity of the tank will be 10 x 10 = 100 m 3
(V = Q x t).
Mathematically, we can say

V =Q x t (2.5)

or t=- (days) (2.6)

or t= - x 24 (hours) (2.7)
t = detention time in days
V = volume of basin in m 3
Q = flow of wastewater in m 3/d

1. The term 'basin' or 'tank' or 'reactor' is used synonymously.

2. When the tank is filled up to the outlet level (i.e. up to the effluent weir), the
unit volume of wastewater may leave the tank earlier than actual detention
time due to hydraulic short-circuiting as shown in Figure 2.5.


I - r - -........---.--_-I~
Effluent Effluent
Channel Channel

(i) Short-circuited flow (ii) Short-circuit prevention by baffles

(a) Vertical flow type tank


(i) Short-circuited flow (ii) Short-circuit prevention by baffles

(b) Horizontal flow type tank

Figure 2.5 Schematic diagram for concept of short-circuit of flow.

Short-circuiting in sedimentation tanks is also caused by eddy currents,

winds and in specific cases by thermal convections.

The following example illustrates the steps to determine the hydraulic detention time of
wastewater treatment units.
A treatment unit is 1.5 m wide, 20 m long and has a wastewater depth of 2.0 m in it. If the
wastewater flow through the tank is 0.5 m 3/s, calculate the detention time.

Solution: Flow of wastewater, Q = 0.5 m 3/s (given)

= 0.5 (m 3/s) X 60 (s/min)
= 30 m 3/min
The volume of treatment unit, V = 1.5 X 20 X 2.0
= 60 m 3
:. Detention time, t = V/Q (as V = Q X t)
= 60(m 3)/30(m 3/min)
= 2.0 min

2.5.2 Flow Through Velocity or Horizontal Velocity, Vb

In any tank where the flow is continuous, the solid particles in wastewater experience two
types of velocities, one along the horizontal direction due to drag force and another along
the vertical direction due to gravitational force. The horizontal velocity component is called
the flow through velocity (Vh) while vertical component is known as the settling velocity (v s )'
However, the settling particle follows the resultant path in the tank as shown in Figure 2.6.


Resultant Path of
Settling Particles

Figure 2.6 Settling path of a solid particle in a tank.

Thus, flow through velocity is the velocity with which the wastewater flows horizontally
through a treatment unit. It can be visualized by observing the horizontal distance travelled
by any floating body, such as a piece of paper or a stick in a unit time and can be determined
by noting the time taken by such particle to travel a specific distance.

distance travelled
Flow through velocity, vh = =
time taken
This is also one of the important parameters in the design of treatment plant units
particularly for computing the cross-sectional area of a tank and length of a rectangular tank.

Normally, the wastewater flow through the different treatment units is maintained as gravity
flow and, therefore, flow through velocity is maintained at "non-silting and non-scouring

Low levels of flow through velocity may cause the organic suspended solids to
settle at the bottom of the tank, which may undergo decomposition and cause
odour problems, whereas settled inorganic particles may cause the problems of
loss of tank material due to abrasion. However, such problems are observed
more in conduits/sewers.

If we have
L= length of a rectangular tank (m)
B= breadth (width) of the rectangular tank (m)
D = depth of the rectangular tank (m)
Ax= cross-sectional area of the tank (m 2)
V= volume of the tank (m 3)
vh= flow through velocity of wastewater (m/d)
t detention time (d)
then, mathematically we have the following relations:

The volume of the tank, V =L x B x D

The cross-sectional area of the tank, Ax =B x D

Then, the flow rate, Q = V = volume of tank (liquid)

Q =B x D x (.: V =L x B x D)

or Ax = SL (2.8)



Example 2.5 illustrates the steps to determine the flow through velocity.

A floating stick travels a distance of 15 m in 30 seconds in a reactor tank having 2.0 m width
and 1.5 m depth. Determine the flow and flow through velocity.
Solution: Distance travelled, L = 15.0 m
Time taken, t = 30 s

.. Flow through velocity, = Lt = 30

= 0.5 m/s
Flow of wastewater, Q = A X Vh
= 2.0(m) x 1.5(m) x 0.5(m/s)
= 1.5 m 3/s
The cross-sectional dimensions of the tank in this problem do not have any
significance in determining the flow through velocity.

2.5.3 Settling Velocity, ~

The knowledge of settling velocity of particle is used in determining the depth of a treatment
unit to separate the suspended solids (particulate matter) by gravity settling and for checking
the adequacy of length or diameter of a tank to remove particles before the effluent flows
out of the basin. As shown in Figure 2.6, heavier solids that enter the settling unit like grit
chamber or PST follow the resultant path due to settling velocity component of the flow and
get removed.

A sand particle of 0.2-mm size with specific gravity of 2.65 is observed to

settle at a rate of 2.3 cm/s.

The following example illustrates the steps to determine the length of a rectangular tank
when settling velocity is known.


A grit chamber has a wastewater depth of 0.9 m. Calculate the time required by a 0.2-mm
sand particle to settle at the bottom. Also compute the length of the grit chamber if the flow
through velocity is 0.3 m/s.

Solution: Assuming that the 0.2 mm sand particle settles at a rate of 2.3 cm/s,
The time required for settling, t = D/vs (as Vs = D/t)
= [0.9 x 100] (cm)I2.3 (cm/s)
= 39.13 s

The distance L, that the particle will travel in this time is

Vh xt = 0.3 x 39.13
= 11.74 m
z 11.75 m

So, for a 0.2-mm particle carried in flow of 0.3 mis, the net or effective length of a grit
chamber should be at least 11.75 m.

2.5.4 Hydraulic Loading or Surface Loading Rate (SLR) or Overflow Rate (OFR)

Surface loading rate, also known as Hydraulic loading rate or overflow rate, is the volume
of wastewater (flow rate) applied per unit surface area of the treatment basin and is normally
expressed in units of m 3/d/m 2 or m 3/m 2 _d (which is numerically equal to settling velocity or
an upward flow velocity in mid). Figure 2.7 illustrates the concept of SLR. This is a significant
design criterion as it is used to determine the surface area of the tank.

Surface Area, m

Figure 2.7 Concept of surface loading rate.

Now, as

flow (m 3 /d)
SLR = ------'----'--
surface area (m 2 )

= settling velocity (mid)

Therefore, numerically SLR =v S'

Though, Vs or SLR is independent of the depth of the basin, it is necessary to

provide sufficient depth for separation of particles from the liquid and to collect
them in the tank.

As surface loading is the hydraulic flow applied per unit surface area of the
tank, it is also known as hydraulic loading. In the design of secondary clarifier,
for surface loading rate, instead of mixed liquor flow, influent wastewater flow
is considered to provide an overflow rate as equivalent to an upward velocity.

The following example illustrates the steps to compute the SLR.

Assuming the diameter of a clarifier to be 20.0 m and the wastewater flow rate 10.0 MLD,
calculate the detention time and surface loading rate of the clarifier having a wastewater
depth of 2.5 m.

Solution: The surface area of the clarifier is given by

1r X d
A =---
s 4

1r X 20 2
= - - - = 314.16 m2
Now, surface loading rate,
flow rate
SLR = surface area of the tank

10 X 103 (m 3 /d)
314.16 (m 2 )
(As 10 MLD = 10 x 10 m 3/d)

Now, as the volume of the tank, V =Q x t

Detention time, t =Q

or t = As X D (As V = As x D)

314.16 (m 2 ) X 2.5 (m)

= - - - -3- - --
10 X 10 (m 3 /d)

= 0.07854 day
= 1.885 hours z 1.9 hours


Assuming a hydraulic loading rate of 25.0 m 3/m 2 _d, determine the surface area and diameter
of a basin treating 0.5 MLD flow of wastewater.

Solution: Wastewater flow, Q = 0.5 MLD

= 0.5 x 106 Lid

flow rate Q
SO, weir loading = =
total weir length L

10 3 (m 3 /d)
Substituting values, L
= 10 X

62.83 (m)
= 159.159 m 3/m-d
160.0 m 3/m-d (say)

A rectangular sedimentation tank has a length of 10.0 m and a width of 5.0 m. For a flow
rate of 1.0 MLD, calculate the weir loading rate.

Solution: Normally in a rectangular tank the wastewater flow is along the length of the tank,
so the weir overflow will be over the width of the tank. Thus, in this case, the weir length is 5.0 m.
Now, 1.0 MLD = 1.0 x 10 6 L/d
= 1.0 x 103 m 3/d (.: 1 m 3 = 1000 litres)
3 3
I dO 1.0 x 10 (m /d)

Welr oa lng =- -----
5.0 (m)
= 200.0 m 3/m-d

2.5.6 Organic Loading or Volumetric Loading

The concept of organic loading is more significant in the design of secondary treatment
units, particularly in the case of designing reactors for biological processes. Organic loading
conceptually means the total quantity of organic matter (in terms of BOD or COD) that is
applied per day per unit volume of the treatment basin or tank. Normally, it is designated
in the units of kg BOD (or COD) per m 3 volume of the tank. However, it is also defined as
quantity of organic matter applied per day over a unit surface area.
Therefore, this criterion is significant in determining either the surface area or the volume
of the treatment unit when the total quantity of organic load (BOD or COD) applied per day
to the treatment unit is known, as illustrated in the following example.

A trickling filter has a diameter of 20 m and a liquid depth of 2.5 m. Calculate the organic
loading rate for an influent of 10.0 MLD having 220 mg/L BOD.

Solution: Organic load in kg of BOD/day = concentration x flow

= 220 (mg/L) x 10- (kg/mg) 10 x 10 6 (L/d)

= 2200 kg/d
and the tank volume is
= n/4 x (diameter)2 x depth
= JrJ4 x (20 m)2 x (2.5 m) = 785.40 m 3
applied kg of BOD/day
.. Organic loading rate =
volume of the tank (m 3)

= 2200/785.4
= 2.80 kg BOD per day/m 3 of tank volume

Organic loading also known as volumetric loading, can be used to compute the
volume of the tank. For example, the volume of a tank fed with 2500 kg BOD
per day with assumed 2.5 kg BOD/m 3 -d volumetric loading will be 1000 m 3 .
(V = (2500)/(2.5) = 1000 m 3)

2.5.7 Food-Microorganism (F/M) Ratio

The F/M ratio is the relationship between the available food (F) and the microorganisms (M)
present in a biological reactor. Food is the organic matter present in the wastewater that is
applied to the reactor and the microorganisms are the total biomass that is maintained in the
reactor to oxidize the incoming organic matter and to stabilize them. It is, therefore, also
defined as organic loading per unit weight of microbial mass in the biological process. The
total biomass includes the new cells (microorganisms) produced in the system or reactor
during the oxidation of food. It is also called a process parameter as it is used to measure
or control the performance of treatment process.
The food available to the microorganisms is measured in terms of the BOD or COD of
the influent in kg/d and the MLVSS (Mixed Liquor Volatile Suspended Solids) is the measure
of mass of the organisms (biomass) in the reactor unit in kg. If biomass M is measured as
MLSS, then normally ML VSS is computed by assuming MLVSS as 80% of MLSS.

When a constant relationship is established for a BOD:COD ratio, COD parameters

can be used in place of BOD for early detection of the F/M ratio as a COD test
takes about 3 hours as compared to 5 days at 20C or 3 days at 27C for a BOD

For a mathematical expression of the F/M ratio, consider the schematic diagram of activated
sludge process given in Figure 2.9.
In this schematic diagram,
V = volume of reactor, m 3
Xo = influent biomass concentration, MLVSS, mg/L

Influent Effluent

Q, So, Xo I Q e Se Xe
.... -----------~t ',,-
0" X,

Figure 2.9 Schematic diagram of an activated sludge process.

x = concentration of biomass or biological solids in reactor as MLSS or, MLVSS, mg/L

Xe = effluent biomass concentration, MLVSS, mg/L
Xr = recycled biomass concentration, MLVSS, mg/L
So = influent substrate, mg/L
S = substrate in the reactor, mg/L
Se = effluent substrate, mg/L (Substrate represents the food in terms of BOD or COD
and MLVSS represents the active biomass.)
Q= flow of wastewater, m 3/d
Qe = effluent flow, m 3 /d (Q - Qw)
Qr = flow of return sludge, m 3/d (Q - Qe - Qw)
Qw = flow of sludge wasted, m 3 /d
The F/M ratio is given by

F food (influent BOD or COD) applied to the reactor (kg/d)

= microorganism (biomass) in the reactor (MLVSS) (kg)

=Q x So = ~(d-l) (as V/Q = (J = hydraulic retention time, HRT)
M V x X ex
Thus, if the wastewater with a BODs concentration of 200 mg/L is treated in a tank
having 6 hours HRT and containing 4000 mg/L MLVSS, then

F = 200 (mg/L) =0.2 d-1

M 4000 (mg/L) x 6 x 24- 1(d/h)

When the total microbial mass is approximated as MLSS, it should be remembered

that MLSS includes both the total biomass (active and dead) and the inorganic
suspended solids.

Example 2.12 illustrates the use of the F/M ratio in the design of Activated Sludge
Process (ASP).
Raw sewage with BOD of 220 mg/L is applied to a conventional sewage treatment plant
based on activated sludge process. If the primary treatment units remove 25% of the BOD,
determine the MLVSS to be maintained in the reactor to control an F/M ratio of 0.6,
assuming a wastewater flow rate of 0.5 MLD.

Solution: As influent BOD is 220 mg/L and 25% of it is removed in primary treatment,
75% of influent BOD enters the aeration tank of the activated sludge process system.
Therefore, BOD applied to the activated sludge process system is
0.75 x 220 mg/L = 165 mg/L
and the total kg of BOD entering the unit per day is
BOD x flow/day = 165 x 10-6 (kg/L) x 0.5 x 10 6 (L/d)
= 82.5 kg/d
Now, as the F/M ratio in the unit is 0.6, Le. for every 0.6 kg of BOD entering the unit, we
require 1 kg of MLVSS to be maintained in the reactor,
MLVSS to be maintained in the reactor is
= 82.5 (kg/d)/0.6(d- 1) (F/M = 0.6 or M = F/0.6)
= 137.5 kg
If the volume of the reactor, V = 57.0 m 3 , then the concentration of MLVSS in mg/L is
given by the relation,

x = Q.So (F/M) = 137.5 (kg) x 106 (mg/kg) x 103 (L/m 3 )

V 57.0 (m 3 )
= 2412.28 mg/L
= 2400 mg/L (say)

2.5.8 Mean Cell Residence Time, (Jc or Solids Retention Time, SRT

In general, Mean Cell Residence Time (MCRT), Be is the average time in days for which
biomass or biological solids are retained or remains in the biological reactor or system. It
is also called as Solids Retention Time (SRT) or sludge age.
It is measured as biomass or solids of the reactor or the system per unit of mass of solids
removed or wasted from the reactor or the system every day. At steady state operation, the
mass of the biomass wasted is equal to the mass of cells produced in the reactor or system.
For a system without return of sludge to the reactor as shown in Figure 2.10(a), MCRT
is equal to HRT as given in Eq. (2.8). When a fraction of sludge is recycled to the reactor
and a part is wasted from the sludge return line as shown in Figure 2.10(b), then MCRT is
defined as the ratio of the biomass maintained in the reactor to the sludge wasted per day
and it is computed by using Eq. (2.9).

r---------- ---.
Qo, 50, Xo 1 Reactor , Qe = (Qo - Q w), Xe, 5
V, X, 5
Influent 1 Effluent

System 1
Boundary Sludge Wasting Ow
(a) Without recirculation of sludge

r---------- --,
1 1
Qo, 50, Xo 1 (Qo + Q r) 1
5 X 1
, 1

r: 1
Return Line
(Q + Or) - Q e
System 1
Boundary 1 QI:l. >iJ:,' I

Sludge Wasting Ow, X" 5

(b) With recirculation of sludge from SST

Figure 2.10 Schematic diagram for ASP.

Mathematically we have,

MCRT = Be = - - - -biomass
--- in the reactor
biomass removed from reactor or system
With reference to Figure 2.10.
(i) For system without recycle [Figure 2.10(a)]

B = (V) (X) (2.10)

e (Q) (X)

or = () = HRT (2.11)
(ii) For system with recycle [Figure 2.1O(b)]

B = (V) (X)
e (Qw)(X r ) + (Qe)(X e )
where the notations are as defined earlier.
MCRT is a very important design criterion mainly associated with the design of the
biological process in general and activated sludge process and its modifications in particular.
It is also referred to as a process parameter as it is used to measure and control the performance
of the treatment process.
MCRT or SRT must be maintained at a level greater than the maximum generation
time of microorganisms in the system to prevent washout of biomass with the

MCRT indirectly measures the efficiency of SST, i.e. separation of sludge

from wastewater and affects the F/M ratio.

For the activated sludge process system, shown in Figure 2.IO(b), compute the MCRT and
recirculation ratio R, for the given data:
o Daily average flow of wastewater, Qavg = Qo = 10 MLD
o Effluent flow rate of wastewater, Qe = 9.92 MLD
o Sludge wasting rate, Qw = 0.08 MLD
o Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT), () = 6 hours
o Active biomass concentration in reactor, X = 3000 mg/L (MLVSS)
o Biomass concentration in effluent, Xe = 20 mg/L
o Biomass concentration in return line, X r = 9000 mg/L

Solution: (a) Computation of MCRT

MCRT can be computed from the relation:

()c =- - - biomass
---- in the reactor
biomass leaving the reactor or system

Now, v = volume of the reactor = Q x t

= 10 MLD x (6/24) (d) = 2.5 ML (million litres)

() = 2.5 (ML) x 3000 (mg/L)
c 0.08 (MLD) x 9000 (mg/L) + 9.92 (MLD) x 20 (mg/L)

2.5 x 3000
0.08 x 9000 + 9.92 x20

720 + 198.4
= 8.16 days
_____ __
_ _ _ _ _----JYM

7.8.6 Mean Cell Residence Time (MCRT) or Solids Retention Time (SRT)

This is mostly used as a performance parameter that affects the process design, and its
significance has been illustrated in various design examples in Chapters 7-10. The parameter
is also used to determine the volume of aeration basin in process design of ASP. The quality
of effluent and settleability of sludge, oxygen requirements and quantity of waste activated
sludge depend on the design MCRT (SRT).

The biological process may fail if the design MCRT is less than the maximum
generation time of biomass (mainly bacteria), as the excessive biomass solids
(sludge) will be produced faster than they will be synthesized in the system and
will be washed away with the effluent.

7.8.7 Food to Microorganism (F/M) Ratio

In a biological treatment system, the F/M ratio is defined as the amount of food (substrate)
available per unit weight of microorganisms (biomass). The substrate is usually measured as
BODs or soluble COD while the biomass is approximated in terms of concentration of Mixed
Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS) on mixed liquor volatile suspended solids (MLVSS) in the
reactor or aeration tank.
To understand the significance of the F/M ratio in the design of a biological treatment
system, it is essential to know the concept of biomass growth in the reactor when the
biomass utilizes or removes the substrate from the waste liquid. A brief description of the
same is given below:

Microbial growth pattern: In a batch reactor, when the microbial population (mixed
culture) of wastewater containing an adequate amount of substrate utilizes (or oxidizes) the
substrate as their food, the change in the concentration of biomass and substrate will follow
a pattern similar to that shown in Figure 7.9.



Time, t
Figure 7.9 Biomass growth and substrate utilization.

In Figure 7.9:

o Phase I or lag phase: It shows the time required for biomass to acclimatize to a
new environment. In this phase, the concentrations of biomass and substrate remain
almost the same as that initially present in the wastewater.
o Phase II or exponential phase: During this period, the concentration of biomass
increases at an exponential rate as the excess amount of substrate is available due
to a high F/M ratio condition in the system. The concentration of substrate decreases.
o Phase III or stationary phase: In this phase, the concentrations of biomass and
substrate remain almost constant as the food is just sufficient for growth, and the
concentration of dead cells increases.
o Phase IV or endogenous phase: In this period, due to depletion of substrate,
initially the concentration of biomass decreases exponentially (known as declining
growth rate) and then its concentration decreases slowly as the food is almost exhausted
(low F/M ratio condition) and the living cells utilize the dead cells as their food.
This is known as the endogenous growth phase of biomass.

In practice, the growth of biomass in wastewater treatment systems is normally

measured as VSS for ease in measurement and less time required for the same.
However, as the VSS measured may also include the non-biodegradable VSS
(VSS nb ) and influent VSS (VSSD that are not removed during the treatment, the
measured VSS does not represent the true growth of biomass.

7.8.8 Organic Loading

When the substrate or food applied to the reactor is organic in nature, the F/M ratio is
considered as organic loading to the reactor or system and is usually determined by the
equation given below:

or !....- = SoQ (as, () = V/Q)

= [BOD s(kg/m 3) x Q(m 3/d)]/[reactor solids (kg/m 3) x reactor volume (m 3 )]
F = food (substrate) applied to the reactor, kg/d
M = microorganisms (biomass) in the reactor, kg/d
So = concentration of influent substrate (BODs or COD) in wastewater, mg/L (g/m 3 )
X= concentration of mixed liquor biomass (MLSS) in the reactor, mg/L (g/m 3 )
() = hydraulic retention time, d

The effects of the F/M ratio or organic loading rate on the performance or treatment
efficiency of biological process are given as follows: