Bench-scale evaluation of the activated sludge process for treatment of a high-strength chemical plant wastewater

Young-Ha Cho, The University of Texas School of Public Health


A bench-scale treatability study was conducted on a high-strength wastewater from a chemical plant to develop an alternative for the existing waste stabilization pond treatment system. The objective of this study was to determine the treatability of the wastewater by the activated sludge process and, if treatable, to determine appropriate operating conditions, and to evaluate the degradability of bis(2-chloroethyl)ether (Chlorex) and benzene in the activated sludge system. Four 4-L Plexi-glass, complete mixing, continuous flow activated sludge reactors were operated in parallel under different operating conditions over a 6-month period. The operating conditions examined were hydraulic retention time (HRT), sludge retention time (SRT), nutrient supplement, and Chlorex/benzene spikes. Generally the activated sludge system treating high-strength wastewater was stable under large variations of organic loading and operating conditions. At an HRT of 2 days, more than 90% removal efficiency with good sludge settleability was achieved when the organic loading was less than 0.4 g BOD$\sb5$/g MLVSS/d or 0.8 g COD/g MLVSS/d. At least 20 days of SRT was required to maintain steady operation. Phosphorus addition enhanced the performance of the system especially during stressed operation. On the average, removals of benzene and Chlorex were 73-86% and 37-65%, respectively. In addition, the low-strength wastewater was treatable by activated sludge process, showing more than 90% BOD removal at a HRT of 0.5 days. In general, the sludge had poor settling characteristics. The aerated lagoon process treating high-strength wastewater also provided significant organic reduction, but did not produce an acceptable effluent concentration.

Subject Area

Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Cho, Young-Ha, "Bench-scale evaluation of the activated sludge process for treatment of a high-strength chemical plant wastewater" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9219864.