Low intensity ultrasound stimulates biological activity of aerobic activated sludge
This work aims to explore a procedure to improve biological wastewater treatment efficiency using low intensity ultrasound. The aerobic activated sludge from a municipal wastewater treatment plant was used as the experimental material. Oxygen uptake rate (OUR) of the activated sludge (AS) was determined to indicate the changes of AS activity stimulated by ultrasound at 35 kHz for 0–40 min with ultrasonic intensities of 0–1.2 W/cm2. The highest OUR was observed at the ultrasonic intensity of 0.3 W/cm2 and an irradiation period of 10 min; more than 15% increase was achieved immediately after sonication. More significantly, the AS activity stimulated by ultrasound could last 24 h after sonication, and the AS activity achieved its peak value within 8 h after sonication, or nearly 100% higher than the initial level after sonication. Therefore, to improve the wastewater treatment efficiency of bioreactors, ultrasound with an intensity of 0.3 W/cm2 could be employed to irradiate a part of the AS in the bioreactor for 10 min every 8 h.