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Activated Sludge Process

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Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge


Activated sludge process is method to treat the sewage and waste water released by industries. It has three major components i.e. aeration tank, settling tank, and treated waste water. Aeration tank acts as the bio reactor, settling tank serves the purpose of sedimentation of solid particles, whereas, treated waste water is an activated sludge which acts as inoculums. Oxygen bubbles are imparted into the waste water along with some microorganisms to treat the waste water biologically. This ultimately forms what is known as biological floc. Every activated sludge process starts by reduction in biodegradable components, which may be biological or chemical substance. This is called biodegradable oxygen demand, and it determines the measure of level of pollution in waste water. The efficiency of removal of these harmful constituents depends on various other factors included in this process. The effluent is discharged into the settling tank, which is later released into natural water bodies after getting some more treatment. The sediments in settling tank is used as inoculums again for new influent. It is pertinent to note that while removing the solid waste, the ration between biomass and food supplied should always be balanced to get the assured results. The removed solid waste is again treated separately in another tank, either aerobically or anaerobically.


Major goals of Activated Sludge Process


Oxidation of carbon and nitrogen containing compounds, especially ammonia.

Removal of phosphates and oxalates.

Removal of anaerobic gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, and nitrogen.

Production of biological matter which can be easily settled.


Method of mixing


Generally, there are two major types of mixing methods i.e. plug flow and complete mixing.

Plug flow: The liquor flow through the tank is in order, and there is no intermixing of the elements along the path of the flow, however it gets mixed afterwards.

Complete mixing: This is well-stirred and properly mixed in such a way that, there is no difference between the effluent and tank mixture.


Aeration methods


Diffused aeration: The tanks containing sewage has a large diffuser block, in which the air is pumped with the help of compressor or blower. This generates air bubbles in the mixture and also gives a stirring effect to mix the sludge properly. This method is used when the sewage is too polluted to treat, and is full of undesirable components.


Surface aerators: The long and wide aeration tanks have an in-built tube of diameter 1 m, which has a conical end, and spiral vanes attached on the inner side. When it is rotated, the liquor gets mixed, becomes light, and moves up. In this way, the new sewage liquor is regularly drawn from the base of the tank.


Different types of plants


Package plants: These plants are useful for small communities, where there is no requirement of permanent dedicated staff to operate it. It comes in different structural designs.


Oxidation ditch: These plants are also meant for small communities with a sludge age of 12-20 days, and hydraulic retention time of 24-48 hours. It is relatively easy to maintain, and is also resistant to damage by heavy loads.


Deep shaft: These plants are buried 100 m below the ground level, and the cost of construction can be high.They have efficient oxygen pump at the base, to lift the mixture of sewage and sludge upwards.This plant gives better results as compared to other low budget aerators.


Surface-aerated Basins: These plants have motor driven aerator which is floating at the surface of the tank. It does dual function of imparting air bubbles and also mixing up the contents of the tank. However, the stirring effect is not as good as the activated sludge systems. It maintains the temperature of the tank for biological reactions to take place smoothly.


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