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Sludge Reduction: Technologies Integrated in the Wastewater Handling Units

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Addition of chemical metabolic uncouplers

The process of uncoupled metabolism has been studied since the ’90s for the reduction of sludge production. It can be obtained by using chemical metabolic uncouplers such as chlorinated and nitrated phenols, or 3,3’,4’,5-tetrachlorosalicylanilide (TCS). These molecules diffuse relatively freely through the phospholipid bilayer with a transport rate proportional to the concentration gradient across the cell membrane. Once inside the membrane, the phenolic hydroxyl dissipate the proton gradient which is a driving force for ATP production, resulting in the dissociation between anabolism and catabolism. High concentrations of these metabolic uncouplers are needed to favour a higher energy dissociation and the consequent cell growth reduction. The addition of metabolic uncouplers does not block electron transport along the respiratory chain to oxygen, and therefore the efficiency of substrate removal may remain good in most cases; however some compounds cause a reduction of substrate removal up to 26%.

The process is based on the simple addition of the chemical metabolic uncouplers to the wastewater handling units; the effect of the compounds added occurs directly during contact with activated sludge. Efficiency in the reduction of sludge production depends on the type of compound added and on the dosage.

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