Linking biofilm growth to fouling and aeration performance of fine-pore diffuser in activated sludge

Manel Garrido-Baserba, Pitiporn Asvapathanagul, Graham W. McCarthy, Thomas E. Gocke, Betty H. Olson, Hee-Deung Park, Ahmed Al-Omari, Sudhir Murthy, Charles B. Bott, Bernhard Wett, Joshua D. Smeraldi, Andrew R. Shaw, Diego Rosso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aeration is commonly identified as the largest contributor to process energy needs in the treatment of wastewater and therefore garners significant focus in reducing energy use. Fine-pore diffusers are the most common aeration system in municipal wastewater treatment. These diffusers are subject to fouling and scaling, resulting in loss in transfer efficiency as biofilms form and change material properties producing larger bubbles, hindering mass transfer and contributing to increased plant energy costs. This research establishes a direct correlation and apparent mechanistic link between biofilm DNA concentration and reduced aeration efficiency caused by biofilm fouling. Although the connection between biofilm growth and fouling has been implicit in discussions of diffuser fouling for many years, this research provides measured quantitative connection between the extent of biofouling and reduced diffuser efficiency. This was clearly established by studying systematically the deterioration of aeration diffusers efficiency during a 1.5 year period, concurrently with the microbiological study of the biofilm fouling in order to understand the major factors contributing to diffuser fouling. The six different diffuser technologies analyzed in this paper included four different materials which were ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM), polyurethane, silicone and ceramic. While all diffusers foul eventually, some novel materials exhibited fouling resistance. The material type played a major role in determining the biofilm characteristics (i.e., growth rate, composition, and microbial density) which directly affected the rate and intensity at what the diffusers were fouled, whereas diffuser geometry exerted little influence. Overall, a high correlation between the increase in biofilm DNA and the decrease in αF was evident (CV <14.0 ± 2.0%). By linking bacterial growth with aeration efficiency, the research was able to show quantitatively the causal connection between bacterial fouling and energy wastage during aeration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-328
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
Volume90
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1

Keywords

  • Activated sludge
  • Aeration
  • Biofilm
  • Efficiency
  • Fine-pore diffuser
  • Fouling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modelling

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  • Cite this

    Garrido-Baserba, M., Asvapathanagul, P., McCarthy, G. W., Gocke, T. E., Olson, B. H., Park, H-D., Al-Omari, A., Murthy, S., Bott, C. B., Wett, B., Smeraldi, J. D., Shaw, A. R., & Rosso, D. (2016). Linking biofilm growth to fouling and aeration performance of fine-pore diffuser in activated sludge. Water Research, 90, 317-328. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2015.12.011