Aeration of activated sludge is a critical treatment step for the operation of activated sludge plants. To achieve a cost effective treatment process, assessing and benchmarking of aeration system performance are important measures. A simple means of gauging the relative condition of a fine bubble diffused aeration system is to evaluate the pressure loss of the diffusers as oxygen transfer tests are rarely applied during the lifetime of an aeration system. This paper shows an assessment of fine bubble diffuser systems in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, based on the results of a questionnaire sent to 941 WWTPs. Apart from the results with regards to the diffuser pressure loss, this paper also presents information on the current state of diffuser technology such as types and materials as well as the diffuser cleaning methods used in Baden-Württemberg. The majority of the WWTPs were equipped with tube diffusers (71%) with 50% of all plants having EPDM membranes installed. Regular mechanical cleaning is the most common cleaning method followed by regular pressure release/air-bumping programs during operations. With regard to the diffuser pressure loss it was found that 50% of the evaluated plants had a diffuser pressure loss that was twice as high as measured for new diffusers.
Keywords: aeration systems, diffuser cleaning, diffuser material, pressure loss