The effects of cations on activated sludge characteristics

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Virginia Tech


This research was prompted by a field study performed at the Celanese Corporation Wastewater Treatment Plant, Narrows, VA., in which calcium chloride addition had improved sludge characteristics that were believed to have deteriorated because of sodium hydroxide additions for pH control.

Research objectives were to determine whether the observed improvements during the full-scale plant study were caused by the addition of divalent cations and whether the deterioration of the sludge was due to sodium ion additions.

Bench-scale, activated sludge reactors were fed wastewater from the Celanese plant to model plant conditions. Sodium was added in an attempt to cause deterioration of the sludge characteristics. Magnesium and calcium were used as divalent cations to try to improve the sludge characteristics.

Results of the study indicated that the magnitude of the effects seen in the full-scale plant study could not be reproduced in the laboratory. Magnesium produced little or no effect on the system and calcium improved the sludge characteristics slightly. Sodium caused deterioration of the sludge but not as dramatically as the full-scale study. This suggested that sodium alone did not adversely affect the sludge but rather, sodium hydroxide might have been combined with organics in the waste which then affected the system.