Evaluation of oxygen uptake rate as an activated sludge process control parameter

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


A debate currently exists concerning whether or not oxygen uptake rate is a valid control parameter for monitoring the activated sludge process. A laboratory study was conducted to attempt to shed light on the controversy. Two bench-scale reactors were operated at steady state and under shock load. Oxygen uptake rate (OUR) was measured with the BOD bottle technique and with an on-line respirometer. The reliability of the results obtained from the BOD bottle technique was also of interest.

No relationship could be deduced between effluent quality and oxygen uptake rate thereby suggesting that the latter would not be useful as a control parameter. As was concluded from the shock load data, the oxygen uptake rate varies very inconsistently at high organic loadings.

It was found that the BOD bottle technique completely failed at very high organic loadings and gave meaningless results. The on-line respirometer, in spite of its high sensitivity, gave more realistic and consistent results.