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Can We Decode the Messages of Activated Sludge Through the Respirograms?


Wastewater contains varieties of carbonaceous and nitrogenous compounds that undergo complicated biodegradation processes in wastewater treatment plants. How these different compounds are degraded by activated sludge in aerobic conditions is still a mystery. Researchers have been trying to interpret it using the oxygen uptake rate (OUR) derived from the respirograms of respective substrates. Several models have been proposed to interpret the substrate removal mechanisms using the experimental observations. Have we succeeded in understanding the messages by activated sludge correctly using these models? In this paper, the distinctive nature of the respirograms when activated sludge is fed with different substrates and the biokinetic models that have been developed to explain the substrate removal mechanisms using derived OUR profiles are reviewed. In addition, a sensitivity study was conducted on the recently evolved simultaneous storage and growth model to investigate the influence of key parameters on OUR profiles during the biodegradation process.

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The authors would like to thank the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying (FoES), University of Southern Queensland (USQ), and Australian Centre for Sustainable Catchments of University of Southern Queensland for the laboratory and financial supports.

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Correspondence to V. Aravinthan.

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Hoque, M.A., Aravinthan, V. & Pradhan, N.M. Can We Decode the Messages of Activated Sludge Through the Respirograms?. Water Air Soil Pollut: Focus 9, 449 (2009).

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  • Respirogram
  • Oxygen uptake rate (OUR)
  • Substrate removal mechanisms
  • Activated sludge models