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Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 A novel technology for bulking control in biological wastewater treatmentg Kon g Pol y technic University, Hung Horn, Hong Kong, China. Tel.: +85 2 2 7 6 6 4 4 8 6 ; f a x : + 8 5 2 2 3 3 4 6389. E-mail address: 04900146r@polyu.edu.hk (Y.F. Tsang). 1369-703X/$ – see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/j.bej.2006.08.014 all, both bulking and foaming increase effluent BOD and sus- pended solids (SS) levels due to the sludge or the foam escaping from clarifiers. Bulking and foaming problems have been alleviated by addi- tion of toxic chemicals such as chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to the aeration tank or the return sludge line, to kill the fil- amentous microorganisms selectively [3] . Metal ions such as calcium, magnesium, iron [1,4] , synthetic polymer [5] , and multi-component additive [6] are observed to control bulking effectively. Application of mineral talc also is effective in sludge settleability improvement in paper mill effluent treatment plant [7] . However, these chemical treatment methods are costly and, most important, they only offer short-term solution as bulking and foaming will resume when chemical additions are stopped. Kinetic selection is an alternative to control filamentous over- growth specifically under low F/M condition, it was first pub- lished by Chudoba et al. [8] . The theory stated that substrate concentration gradient favors the growth of floe-formers, instead of filamentous bacteria, among the activated sludge microbes. Successful applications have been accomplished by installation of selector upstream to the aeration tank [9] , intermittently fed " id="pdf-obj-0-2" src="pdf-obj-0-2.jpg">

Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 A novel technology for bulking control in biological wastewater treatmentg Kon g Pol y technic University, Hung Horn, Hong Kong, China. Tel.: +85 2 2 7 6 6 4 4 8 6 ; f a x : + 8 5 2 2 3 3 4 6389. E-mail address: 04900146r@polyu.edu.hk (Y.F. Tsang). 1369-703X/$ – see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/j.bej.2006.08.014 all, both bulking and foaming increase effluent BOD and sus- pended solids (SS) levels due to the sludge or the foam escaping from clarifiers. Bulking and foaming problems have been alleviated by addi- tion of toxic chemicals such as chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to the aeration tank or the return sludge line, to kill the fil- amentous microorganisms selectively [3] . Metal ions such as calcium, magnesium, iron [1,4] , synthetic polymer [5] , and multi-component additive [6] are observed to control bulking effectively. Application of mineral talc also is effective in sludge settleability improvement in paper mill effluent treatment plant [7] . However, these chemical treatment methods are costly and, most important, they only offer short-term solution as bulking and foaming will resume when chemical additions are stopped. Kinetic selection is an alternative to control filamentous over- growth specifically under low F/M condition, it was first pub- lished by Chudoba et al. [8] . The theory stated that substrate concentration gradient favors the growth of floe-formers, instead of filamentous bacteria, among the activated sludge microbes. Successful applications have been accomplished by installation of selector upstream to the aeration tank [9] , intermittently fed " id="pdf-obj-0-6" src="pdf-obj-0-6.jpg">

A novel technology for bulking control in biological wastewater treatment plant for pulp and paper making industry

Y.F. Tsang , H. Chua, S.N. Sin, C.Y. Tam

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Horn, Hong Kong, China

Received 5 May 2006; received in revised form 3 August 2006; accepted 4 August 2006

Abstract

Filamentous foaming and bulking in activated sludge process are common problems in pulp and paper mill wastewater treatment processes. In this study, the predominant foaming and bulking causing filamentous microorganism in the pulp and paper mill effluent treatment system was identified. Its growth kinetics was studied and used as a theoretical basis to develop an optimal operational strategy for foaming and bulking preventive control. Filamentous actinomycetes, Nocardia amarae was found to be the predominant filamentous microorganisms. The kinetics study revealed that the Food to Microorganism (F/M) ratio was a critical factor affecting the excessive growth of N. amarae. Accordingly, a novel Feast-Fast Operation (FFO) strategy was developed, in which the sludge microbes underwent a repetitive switch between high and low F/M ratio during the course of wastewater treatment. Feast-to-Fast Loading Ratio (FFLR) was proposed and used as the parameter for optimization of FFO performance. At FFLR of 4 and 3.5, the sludge volume index (SVI) rapidly reduced to a healthy level of 70 ml g 1 and the systems were free from stable foam, while the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) removal efficiency remained above 96.2%. The FFO strategy effectively suppressed filamentous overgrowth and improved the settleability of activated sludge without adversely affecting the BOD removal efficiency. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Bulking control; Pulp and paper mill effluent; Waste-water treatment; Filamentous bacteria; Bioreactors; Optimization

1. Introduction

Filamentous overgrowth is a ubiquitous operational problem in activated sludge process for wastewater treatment, especially in pulp and paper mill effluent treatment systems [1]. The excess growth of filamentous microorganisms causes bulking that dete- riorates sludge settleability, resulting in decreased sludge set- tling rate and incompact sludge blanket, usually indicated by an increased SVI [2]. Filamentous species attach to and stabilize air bubbles to become thick, stable, persistent and scum-like foam. Foam interferes level sensors and hinders sequencing batch reac- tor (SBR) operations. Spillage of foam from aeration tanks to walkways causes safety problems. Dried foam results in air- borne pathogens that cause public health problems. Thick foam blocks scum removal systems and reduces oxygen supply. Above

Corresponding author at: W614a, Department of Civil and Structural Engi- neering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Horn, Hong Kong, China. Tel.: +852 2766 4486; fax: +852 2334 6389. E-mail address: 04900146r@polyu.edu.hk (Y.F. Tsang).

1369-703X/$ – see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.bej.2006.08.014

all, both bulking and foaming increase effluent BOD and sus- pended solids (SS) levels due to the sludge or the foam escaping from clarifiers. Bulking and foaming problems have been alleviated by addi- tion of toxic chemicals such as chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to the aeration tank or the return sludge line, to kill the fil- amentous microorganisms selectively [3]. Metal ions such as calcium, magnesium, iron [1,4], synthetic polymer [5], and multi-component additive [6] are observed to control bulking effectively. Application of mineral talc also is effective in sludge settleability improvement in paper mill effluent treatment plant [7]. However, these chemical treatment methods are costly and, most important, they only offer short-term solution as bulking and foaming will resume when chemical additions are stopped. Kinetic selection is an alternative to control filamentous over- growth specifically under low F/M condition, it was first pub- lished by Chudoba et al. [8]. The theory stated that substrate concentration gradient favors the growth of floe-formers, instead of filamentous bacteria, among the activated sludge microbes. Successful applications have been accomplished by installation of selector upstream to the aeration tank [9], intermittently fed

  • 128 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

128 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 1. The activated

Fig. 1. The activated sludge process treating pulp and paper mill effluent.

operation [10,11], or implementation of plug flow conditions [12]. Although many studies have been carried out, the root causes of filamentous overgrowth are still not fully understood and contradicting views remain [13]. Since universal filamen- tous control strategy is still unavailable, a specific analysis is necessary to determine the control method for each problem case. The objectives of this study were: (1) to identify the pre- dominant filamentous microorganism in bulking sludge; (2) to develop a novel activated sludge process (FFO) based on the growth kinetics study of the filamentous microorganisms; (3) to evaluate the effectiveness of the modified process on filamentous control.

  • 2. Materials and methods

    • 2.1. Identification of predominant filamentous

microorganism

The microorganisms in activated sludge samples collected from the paper mill wastewater treatment plant were isolated by plate cultures with Czapek’s agar supplemented with 0.4% yeast extract, incubated at 28 C for 3 weeks. The microbes were identified according to the criteria adopted by Blackall et al. [14] and Jenkins et al. [2]. The isolated bacteria were cultured in 500 ml flasks with 100 ml sterilized LB medium, on an orbital shaker at 28 C and 200 rpm for 120 h.

  • 2.2. Kinetic selection studies

The predominant filamentous microorganism (later identified as Nocardia amarae, ATCC 27810) and Pseduomonas aerugi- nosa (CRCC 10261) were used to represent the filamentous and non-filamentous floc-forming bacteria in activated sludge. The cultures were maintained on yeast-extract-glucose agar slants at 2–4 C. The inocula of N. amarae and P. aeruginosa used for the kinetics studies were derived from the agar slants and maintained

at 30 C for 72 and 24 h, respectively. Minimal salt medium (MSM) was prepared according to the method proposed by Chua et al. [15]. The MSM was adjusted to pH 6.8 with NaOH solution and autoclaved. Paper mill effluent, which acted as the carbon source, was filtered through a 0.45 m membrane filter and ster- ilized. Ninety milliliters of MSM, 10 ml of paper mill effluent and 5 ml of inoculum were added into a 500 ml baffled conical flask. Both types of bacteria were cultured at 30 C and 200 rpm for a period required to enter the stationary phase.

  • 2.3. The activated sludge simulator system

The simulator system was comprised of two 3-l aeration columns and a settling tank (Fig. 1). Both aeration columns received the paper mill wastewater and return activated sludge (RAS) at pre-determined flow rates. The system was operated under conventional conditions for 36 days to attain stable oper- ation before switching to FFO mode, during which the two aeration columns were operated at different hydraulic reten- tion times (HRT), return sludge rates and MLSS concentrations, resulting in relatively high and low F/M ratios. The simulator system was operated in an air-conditioned laboratory at the tem- perature of 25 ± 1 C. All operating conditions of conventional and FFO mode are summarized in Table 1.

  • 2.4. Seed and influent

Activated sludge with excessive filamentous growth from the paper mill wastewater treatment plant was used as seed for the lab-scale bioreactor. The collected sludge was screened with a 2-mm sieve to remove coarse particles before transferring to the simulator system for start-up. The effluent from the dissolved air flotation unit, used as the influent of the treatment system, was collected and immediately refrigerated at 4 C. The char- acteristics of the influent of system are shown in Table 2. Prior to the experiment, the influent was supplemented with nutrients (N: urea and P: phosphoric acid) to maintain a BOD:N:P ratio of 100: 5:1.

 

Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

 

129

Table 1 Operational conditions in the conventional operation and FFO programmes

 

System condition

Conventional operation during start-up

FFO 1

FFO 2

FFO 3

 

Feasting

Fasting

Feasting

Fasting

Feasting

Fasting

Effective volume (l)

6

3

3

3

3

3

3

Influent flow rate (l h 1 )

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.35

0.25

0.3

0.3

HRT (h)

10.0

7.5

15.0

8.6

12.0

10.0

10.0

pH

6–7

6–7

6–7

6–7

6–7

6–7

6–7

Dissolved oxygen (mg l 1 )

2–4

2–4

2–4

2–4

2–4

2–4

2–4

Influent BOD (mg l 1 )

500

500

500

500

500

500

500

Sludge wastage (l day 1 )

0.4

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

SRT (d)

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

MLSS (mg l 1 )

3200

2100

4200

1800

4500

1500

4800

F/M (mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 )

0.38

0.76

0.19

0.78

0.22

0.80

0.25

FFLR

N.A.

4.0

3.5

3.2

Table 2 Characteristics of the influent of the activated sludge simulator

Parameter

Concentration

Dissolved COD (mg l 1 )

905

± 52.3

BOD (mg l 1 )

496 ± 15.4

Suspended solid (mg l 1 )

30.2

± 3.2

pH

6.5 ± 0.32

  • 2.5. Analytical methods

All parameters of mixed liquor and wastewater quality were determined according to standard methods [16]. Biomass was quantified in terms of MLSS because MLVSS/MLSS was often close to 1.0 in this system, which had very low mineral content. A foam measurement method was applied to assess the effectiveness of the foam control strategy. A 500 ml sample of mixed liquor was placed in a 11 graduated cylinder and aer- ated, from the bottom, at an air flow rate of 21 min 1 through a sintered-sand diffuser for 60 s. The mixture was then left under quiescent conditions for another 60 s. The instantaneous foam height, as indicated by an inverted conical polyethylene marker, was recorded at 15-s intervals throughout the 120-s period. The degree of foaming was measured by the maximum vol- ume of foam produced in the aeration period, where 60–80 and 0–20 ml of foam were typical values for severely foaming and healthy sludge, respectively. The degree of foaming could also be

expressed by dividing the maximum volume of foam produced by the sample volume. These results could then be used to fore- cast the actual depth of the foam or scum layer in the treatment plant. The foam stability was quantified by dividing the mini- mum volume of foam in the quiescent period by the maximum volume of foam in the aeration period, where 0 and 1 are the normalized minimum and maximum, respectively, of foam sta- bility. This procedure was first developed and successfully used, both in the laboratory and sewage treatment plants, for a wide range of activated sludge samples with different grease, pro- tein and filamentous bacterial contents producing reliable and reproducible results [17].

3. Results and discussion

  • 3.1. The predominant filamentous bacteria

The micrograph of the sludge sample of bulk floe from paper mill effluent treatment system is illustrated in Fig. 2, which shows an overgrowth of filamentous bacteria with right-angled branching, and the filament dimensions were 0.5–1.0 m × 80–160 m. The colonies on plate cultures demonstrated aerial hyphae that gave a superficially matte and chalky appearance. The generation time of the isolated bacteria in shake flask cultures at 28 C was 10.5 h. The isolated bacteria were found Gram-positive and Neisser-negative, and could not

Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 129 Table 1 Operational conditions

Fig. 2. The predominant N. amarae in the sludge sample of bulk floe from paper mill effluent treatment system (left: 200×, right: 400×).

  • 130 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

130 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 3. Lineweaver–Burk plot

Fig. 3. Lineweaver–Burk plot of N. amarae.

survive after an 8-h incubation at 50 C under heat resistance test. These morphological and physiological properties identified the bacteria as N. amarae [14,2]. This filamentous actinomycetes is commonly found in biological systems treating paper mill efflu- ent [18]. The growth of N. amarae was supported as the effluent that contains organic additives, oil-based defoamers and wood extractives [15].

3.2. Kinetic selection studies of filamentous and floc-forming bacteria

The maximum specific growth rate (μ m ) and the half-velocity constant (K s ) of the Monod kinetics model were obtained from the batch culture growth data, followed by processing with Lineweaver–Burk equations and linear regression techniques. The double reciprocal plots for filamentous and floc-forming bacteria are demonstrated in Figs. 3 and 4. The μ m and K s of N. amarae were 0.073 h 1 and 546 mg l 1 , respectively. The μ m and K s of N. aeruginosa were 1.25 h 1 and 2148 mg l 1 , respec- tively. According to the results, both μ m and K s of N. amarea were significantly lower than that of P. aeruginosa. These obser- vations were in agreement with the study by Chudoba et al. [8] that filamentous bacteria are slow-growing microorganisms that possess μ m and K s lower than non-filamentous floc-formers. The specific growth rates of filamentous N. amarae and floc- forming P. aeruginosa under different F/M ratios are shown in Fig. 5. The cut-off value of F/M ratio was observed at 0.52 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 , below which N. amarae grew faster than P. aeruginosa. While at F/M ratio above the cut-

130 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 3. Lineweaver–Burk plot

Fig. 4. Lineweaver–Burk plot of P. aeruginosa.

130 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 3. Lineweaver–Burk plot

Fig. 5. Growth kinetics of N. amarae and P. aeruginosa.

off value, the growth rate was higher for P. aeruginosa. These results showed that filamentous N. amarae grew faster and had a stronger affinity towards the substrate, and turned out to be the predominant strain at low substrate concentrations, while the floc-forming P. aeruginosa required higher organ- ics concentrations to grow, and dominated at higher substrate levels [15]. Such growth behaviors implied that filamentous overgrowth was inevitable in most activated sludge processes that are continually exposed to the F/M ratio between 0.2 and 0.5 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 .

  • 3.3. Development of the feast fast operation strategy

For the FFO strategy, the simulator system was used as the realization technique and FFLR was used as the con- trol parameter. The kinetics selection results revealed that activated sludge process operating at F/M ratio of above

  • 0.52 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 rendered filamentous bacte-

ria to be at a competitive disadvantage relative to the non- filamentous microbes. Hence, high F/M ratio was regarded as a prerequisite for effective selection of the desired non- filamentous bacteria from the sludge population. Moreover, other studies found that the sludge bacteria, after exposing to a high F/M environment, required sufficient time for oxidation of adsorbed/accumulated substrates [19,20]. It was also inves- tigated that activated sludge with good settleability was best achieved when the microorganisms were periodically exposed to high substrate concentration and long-lasting near-starvation conditions [21]. This information provided the theoretical basis for FFO development in this study. In the dual-reactor sys- tem, the feasting column was operated at a higher F/M ratio of

0.8 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 , while the fasting column was run at a lower F/M ratio of 0.2 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 . The FFO mode allowed an overall process F/M ratio to maintain within the normal range while avoiding prolonged exposure of the activated sludge to an F/M ratio below the cut-off value of

0.52

mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 .

  • 3.4. Start-up of the treatment process

The simulator systems were operated with conditions as shown in Table 1. Each dual-reactor system was started up with

 

Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

 

131

Table 3 Sludge production and return sludge rate at different FFLRs during FFO programmes

 

Module

System condition

FFLR = 4.0

FFLR = 3.5

FFLR = 3.2

Feasting

Fasting

Feasting

Fasting

Feasting

Fasting

Influent flow rate (l h 1 )

0.4

0.2

0.35

0.25

0.3

0.3

MLSS (mg l 1 )

2100

4200

1800

4500

1500

4800

Sludge production rate (mg h 1 )

840

840

630

1125

450

1440

Proportion of sludge production (%)

50

50

36

64

24

76

Return sludge rate (l h 1 )

0.05

0.05

0.04

0.08

0.11

2.20

Proportion of sludge replenishment (%)

50

50

33

67

5

95

conventional operation for microbial acclimatization. The sys- tems were fed with paper mill effluent and seeded with bulking and foaming sludge obtained from the paper mill wastewa- ter treatment plant. In each system, the influent flow and the return sludge rate were maintained at 0.6 and 0.8 1 h 1 , respec- tively, which resulted in MLSS of 3200 mg l 1 and F/M ratio of 0.38 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 . The initial values of SVI, degree of foaming and foam stability, at 235 ml g 1 , 70 ml and 0.28, respectively, have increased and became steady at 275 ml g 1 , 75 ml and 0.35, respectively. At the same time, the BOD removal efficiency increased from 86% to 97.5%. These observations indicated that the quantity of filamentous bacteria within the sludge ecosystem increased under conventional oper- ation with a typical F/M ratio of 0.4 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 during the 36-day start-up period. A sludge sample of bulk floe at this point showed an overgrowth and overwhelming domi- nance of filamentous N. amarae (Fig. 6). These findings also provided further support that paper mill wastewater treatment plants with conventional F/M ratio were subjected to filamentous overgrowth. From day 37, the systems were switched to the FFO programme with predetermined conditions (Tables 1 and 3). The target MLSS of each column was attained by adjusting the return sludge rate according to the influent flow rate, the MLSS of the aeration column and the suspended solid concentration of the settled sludge.

  • 3.5. Process performances under FFO strategy

Three simulator systems were operated under different con- ditions in order to study the treatment performance of FFO

Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 131 Table 3 Sludge production

Fig. 6. Filamentous dominance during the system start-up period (200×).

strategy for foaming and bulking control in paper mill efflu- ent treatment plant. These operating conditions were main- tained at the same overall process F/M ratio of 0.38 and total influent flow rate of 0.6 1 h 1 as in the conventional opera- tion during start-up. However, the relative F/M ratios within each system were varied in order to optimize the effective- ness in filamentous control. The F/M ratios were allocated through manipulating the influent flow rate and MLSS in both feasting and fasting columns within each system. Hence, the “Feast-to-Fast Loading Ratio” (FFLR), which is defined as the proportion of the F/M ratios between the feasting column and the fasting column, was used as the parameter for process optimization. The performances of FFO programme after the start-up period are shown in Figs. 7–10. Figs. 7 and 8 show the his- tory of F/M ratios and MLSS during the FFO operation. The fine-tuning of the F/M ratios allowed the exposure of the acti- vated sludge microbes to different degree of feasting and fasting conditions. The profile of degree of foaming, foam stability, and SVI are illustrated in Figs. 9 and 10. Generally, the FFO strat- egy gave a quick response in filamentous control as indicated by the improved settleability and reduced foaming capacity of the systems. At FFLR of 4.0, the degree of foaming dropped from 75 to 20 ml, while foam stability was below 0.05 within the 24-day operation of FFO programme (Fig. 9). The foam measurements in two columns were very similar and the sludge was almost free from stable foam from day 60 onwards. The sludge settleability also responded rapidly to the FFO operation. After the simulator was switched to the FFO mode, the SVI returned rapidly to a healthy level of 70 ml g 1 within 22 days. The SVI dropped further, and gradually stabilized at around 60 ml g 1 during the next 30-day operation (Fig. 10). At the steady state condition, SVI values of around 55 and 65 ml g 1 were observed in the feasting and fasting columns, respectively. At FFLR of 3.5, the degree of foaming and foam stability dropped to 20 ml and below 0.05, respectively, within the 33- day FFO programme. After the day 69, the system was almost free from stable foam (Fig. 9). For the sludge settleability, the SVI returned rapidly to a healthy level of 70 ml g 1 within 33 days and became stabilized at SVI of around 65 ml g 1 on day 70 (Fig. 10). When the feasting and fasting columns were at steady state, the SVI were found at 60 and 75 ml g 1 , respec- tively. Although the process response at FFLR of 3.5 was not as

  • 132 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

132 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 7. The MLSS

Fig. 7. The MLSS profile during operation.

132 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 7. The MLSS

Fig. 8. The F/M profile during operation.

132 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 Fig. 7. The MLSS

Fig. 9. The profile of degree of foaming and foam stability during operation.

Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

133

Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134 133 Fig. 10. The SVI

Fig. 10. The SVI profile during operation.

fast as that at FFLR of 4.0, the performance in terms of filamen- tous control was still satisfactory. For the system operated at FFLR of 3.2, the degree of foam- ing and foam stability slightly dropped to 60 and maintained at around 2.8, respectively (Fig. 9) and stable foam was frequently observed. The SVI reduced to a stable value of 220 ml g 1 (Fig. 10). The system failed in controlling of foaming and bulk- ing under this FFLR value. The process configuration under the FFO strategy enabled the settled activated sludge from the settling tank to be randomly recycled between the feasting and fasting columns, thus avoiding a prolonged exposure of the sludge to a low F/M condition. This created a favorable environment for the non-filamentous floc-forming bacteria to gain dominance in the ecosystem. In addition, the effectiveness of filamentous control was enhanced by increasing the FFLR (Figs. 9 and 10), which controlled the specific F/M ratios to which the activated sludge microorganisms were exposed. FFLR was affected by many operating parameters, including influent flow rate, MLSS concentration and return sludge rate (Table 3). FFLR also correlated to the sludge production rate from the feasting and fasting column, and the proportion of the return sludge that replenished to each aeration columns. There- fore, a narrow change in FFLR resulted in a significant change in various operating conditions (Table 3). Lower FFLR decreased the rate of sludge production and the return sludge replenishment in the feasting column. However, it increased the same in fasting column (Table 3). Consequently, a large quantity of sludge was forced to expose to a fasting condition that resulted in higher

degree of sludge starvation. For the case at FFLR of 3.2, as high as 76% of the sludge production of the system was derived from the fasting column, and about 95% of the return sludge flowed back into the fasting column (Table 3), in which the F/M ratio was maintained at 0.25 mgBOD mgMLSS 1 day 1 (Table 1). In this condition, excess growth of filamentous bac- teria was promoted, resulting in unsolved bulking and foaming problems. The ultimate function of the wastewater treatment system is to remove the organic matter to meet the corresponding dis- charge standard (BOD 20 mg l 1 ) set by the local government [22]. Table 4 indicates that the BOD removal efficiencies during the process of FFO programme were not substantially lower than that during conventional operation. The system showed the BOD removal efficiency of 98.1% with treated effluent BOD level at 9.45 ± 0.34 mg l 1 (n = 19) during start-up operation. After switching to FFO strategy, the BOD removal efficiencies were found to be 96.2% (n = 20), 97.0% (n = 20) and 97.4% (n = 20), for FFLRs of 4.0, 3.5 and 3.2, respectively. All the FFO operat- ing conditions were able to meet the BOD discharge standard. However, the BOD concentration of treated effluent was found very close to the upper limit of the standard at FFLR of 4.0. The slightly lowered BOD removal efficiency was attributed to the shorter HRT in the feasting column, and the lower degree of sludge starvation in the system. Higher FFLR responded more rapidly to bulking and foaming control, whereas, lower FFLR enhanced the BOD removal. Hence, the FFLR was an appro- priate tool for optimizing the FFO strategy between filamentous control and BOD removal performance.

Table 4 BOD removal performance at different operating conditions

System condition

 

Conventional operation during start-up (n = 19)

FFO 1 FFLR = 4.0 (n = 20)

FFO 2 FFLR = 3.5 (n = 20)

FFO 3 FFLR = 3.2 (n = 20)

Influent

BOD (mg l 1 )

500 ± 16.1

493 ± 13.7

493 ± 13.7

493 ± 13.7

Effluent

BOD

(mg l 1 )

9.5 ± 0.34

19.2 ± 1.77

15.1 ± 0.34

12.8 ± 0.27

BOD removal efficiency (%)

98.1

96.2

97.0

97.4

  • 134 Y.F. Tsang et al. / Biochemical Engineering Journal 32 (2006) 127–134

4. Conclusions

N. amarae, which was induced by low F/M ratio, was found to be the predominant filamentous species in the activated sludge process treating paper mill effluent. The excess growth of this actinomycetes was effectively controlled by the implementa- tion of the novel FFO strategy. The FFLR proposed in this study allowed fine-tuning of the relative F/M ratio between the feasting and fasting columns, and hence can be used as the parameter for optimization of FFO performance on foaming and bulking con- trol. The SVI was rapidly reduced from 275 ml g 1 to a healthy level of 70 ml g 1 and stable foam was extinguished after imple- mentation of FFO at FFLR of 4 and 3.5. The FFO strategy successfully suppressed filamentous overgrowth and improved the settleability of activated sludge without adversely affecting the performance of BOD removal.

Acknowledgement

The authors wish to thank the Hong Kong Polytechnic Uni- versity Research grants for the financial support.

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