Effect of Reactor Feeding Pattern on Performance of an Activated Sludge SBR
The possible effects of changes in the feeding pattern on activated sludge properties related to bioflocculation have been analyzed in lab scale sequencing batch reactors (SBR) in order to determine if these changes in effluent water quality and settling and dewatering properties are significant, so they can be considered in future studies or if they can be recommended as crucial when operating and designing wastewater treatment plants. The activated sludge process is widely used to treat wastewater from both industrial and municipal sources. Biomass from industrial facilities containing high monovalent to divalent ion content usually settles poorly, which leads to low quality effluents that fail to meet environmental requirements. Therefore, the combined effect of feeding pattern plus the addition of sodium to activated sludge reactors was studied in this experiment.
A series of SBRs were operated at different sodium concentrations that ranged from 1.5 - 15 meq/L and different feeding times that ranged from 1 minute to 4 hours. Biomass samples were taken from each reactor to study the settling and dewatering properties and effluent samples were used to analyze the amount of organic matter and exocellular polymeric substances present due to deflocculation. As expected, the changes in feeding strategies affected all of the properties measured. When the feeding time was maintained low (pulse feed) the effluent quality and settling properties were the best. As the feeding time was increased the effluent quality, settling, and dewatering properties increased suggesting that the way in which the reactors were fed affected the overall bioflocculation process. The causes of the high deflocculation observed are not well understood, but data suggest that a microbial community change could have affected exocellular biopolymers which are believed to play an important role on bioflocculation.
This research demonstrates the importance of the interaction between cation content and feeding pattern when operating a wastewater treatment plants and when reporting lab-scaled results related to settling and bioflocculation.