Investigating organic nitrogen production in activated sludge process: Size fraction and biodegradability.


Joshi R(1), Kasi M(2), Wadhawan T(3), Khan E(4).
Author information:
(1)Environmental and Conservation Sciences Program, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)Smith and Loveless, Inc., Lenexa, KS, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)Dynamita, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]
(4)Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


The effect of sludge retention time (SRT) on the production of organic nitrogen (ON) fractions (particulate, colloidal and soluble) and the biodegradability of produced soluble ON in an activated sludge process was investigated. Synthetic wastewater with no ON was fed to the four laboratory-scale reactors operated at SRTs of 2, 5, 10 and 20 d, respectively. Effluent ON from each reactor was fractionated into particulate, colloidal, and soluble ON (pON, cON, and sON). The effluent total ON contained 5.7 to 11.9 mg/L pON, 3.6 to 3.8 mg/L cON, and 2.3 to 4.6 mg/L sON. cON fraction can be larger than sON fraction in the secondary effluent. Therefore, besides focusing on sON, water resource recovery facilities aiming to meet stricter effluent TN limits should also identify appropriate technologies to target cON. More than 50% of effluent sON was biodegradable under SRTs of 2, 5, and 10 d but the biodegradability decreased to 31% at 20-d SRT. Large fractions of non-biodegradable sON (69%) at SRT of 20-d could be contributed by extracellular polymeric substances and soluble microbial products, specifically biomass associated products due to endogenous respiration. Thus, sON generated at long SRTs may take longer to decompose in receiving waters.