Reconsideration and upgrading of sampling and analysis methods for avoiding measurement-related design and operation failures in wastewater treatment

  • V Bakos Dept. Applied Biotechnology and Food Science, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, H-1111 Budapest, Szent Gellért tér 4, Hungary
  • A Deák Dept. Sewage Operations, Budapest Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, Budapest Waterworks Pte. Ltd, H-1211 Budapest, Nagy Duna sor 2, Hungary
  • A Jobbágy Dept. Applied Biotechnology and Food Science, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, H-1111 Budapest, Szent Gellért tér 4, Hungary
Keywords: wastewater sampling, measurement errors, data accuracy, biochemical oxygen demand, sludge volume index, activated sludge model


Success of design and high operational efficiency may basically stand or fall on the quality of measured (or estimated) input data. Even small mistakes committed in the initial steps of sampling and analysis may become large once scaled up in the design process or during full-scale operation. The paper provides several experiment-based practical recommendations and easily implemented, powerful methods for appropriate sampling and analysis practice in wastewater treatment. Representative wastewater characterization is crucial for satisfactory design and cost-effective operation. The paper highlights hidden problems and challenges of sampling and analysis in activated sludge wastewater treatment which may strongly affect the quality of input data, and thus basically determine the modelling outputs. Full-scale results proved that wastewater quality may change significantly in the sampling tubing and vessels; during the sampling process even nitrification can happen. Regarding sludge settling measurements, effects of dilution, temperature, floc structure, nitrate and dissolved oxygen concentrations as well as current biochemical condition of the sludge sample have been studied and important recommendations provided. A combined comparative method including SVI and DSVI measurements has been elaborated for indication and early warning alert of undesired floc structure transformations. Influent BOD5 concentration is a key factor for describing biodegradability and denitrification capacity of wastewater to be treated. Results of the two most commonly used BOD testing methods were compared for preclarified wastewater. An electrochemical measurement technique provided significantly lower BOD5 concentrations compared to manometric analysis results with a difference of 23% and 15% on average for unfiltered and filtered samples, respectively. Effects of BOD-based fractionation deviations on predictable denitrification efficiency were studied at different inlet C/N ratios by simulating existing full-scale wastewater treatment plants resulting in remarkable differences in effluent nitrate concentrations. Based on the results, application of the manometric BOD measurement method proved to be preferable.

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Research paper