Biological Treatment

The objective of biological treatment is to remove the dissolved and particulate biodegradable components in the wastewater. It is a core part of the secondary biological treatment system. Microorganisms are used to decompose the organic wastes [6,8-15].

With regard to different growth types, biological systems can be classified as suspended growth or attached growth systems. Biological treatment can also be classified by oxygen utilization: aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative. In an aerobic system, the organic matter is decomposed to carbon dioxide, water, and a series of simple compounds. If the system is anaerobic, the final products are carbon dioxide and methane.

Compared to anaerobic treatment, the aerobic biological process has better quality effluent, easies operation, shorter solid retention time, but higher cost for aeration and more excess sludge. When treating high-load influent (COD>4000 mg/L), the aerobic biological treatment becomes less economic than the anaerobic system. To maintain good system performance, the anaerobic biological system requires more complex operations. In most cases, the anaerobic system is used as a pretreatment process.

Suspended growth systems (e.g., activated sludge process) and attached growth systems (e.g., trickling filter) are two of the main biological wastewater treatment processes. The activated sludge process is most commonly used in treatment of wastewater. The trickling filter is easy to control, and has less excess sludge. It has higher resistance loading and low energy cost. However, high operational cost is its major disadvantage. In addition, it is more sensitive to temperature and has odor problems. Comprehensive considerations must be taken into account when selecting a suitable system.

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