IWA Publishing

Occurrence of Microthrix parvicella in sequencing batch reactors

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Sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) are known for high process stability and usually have a good sludge volume index (SVI). Nevertheless, in many SBRs in Germany for municipal wastewater treatment, scum and foam problems can occur, and SVI can be larger than 200 mL/g. The microscopic investigations of the activated sludge from plants with nitrogen and phosphorus removal have shown that Microthrix parvicella is dominant in the activated sludge in most of them. Studies showed that the optimum growth of M. parvicella is performed at a high sludge age (>20 d) and low sludge load in the range of 0.05–0.2 kg of biochemical oxygen demand per kg of total suspended solids per day (kg BOD5/(TSS·d)). The investigations in 13 SBRs with simultaneous aerobic sludge stabilization (most of them are operated with a system called differential internal cycle strategy sequential batch reactor (DIC-SBR)) show that M. parvicella is able to grow in sludge loads less than 0.05 kg BOD5/(kg TSS·d) as well. To optimize the operation of those SBRs, long cycle times (8–12 h) and dosing of iron salts to eliminate long-chain fatty acids are both recommended. This leads to better SVI and keeps M. parvicella at a low frequency.

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