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Respirometry: A Tool to Optimize your Wastewater Treatment Plant

Respirometry: A tool to Optimize Your Wastewater Treatment PlantIn wastewater treatment systems, there are eight growth pressures that affect microbiological growth and, ultimately, biochemical oxygen demand or BOD removal. While some of these growth pressures are easier to control than others, all are important in monitoring and maintaining your wastewater treatment plant’s secondary system. Factors such as nutrients, biomass, pH, temperature, retention time, and dissolved oxygen can be addressed, if only a person knew which factors were impacting the WWTP’s microbiological growth. So how does a plant maximize BOD removal while overcoming factors that may be negatively impacting the system?

Environmental Business Specialists (EBS) utilizes a laboratory tool called respirometry to analyze the limiting growth pressures. A respirometer is a device that measures the respiration rate of the wastewater treatment organisms (bacteria) by measuring the amount of oxygen they consume over time. As oxygen is taken up by the bacteria, bubbles pass through a fluid, breaking a light beam. Computer software then calculates the amount and rate of oxygen consumption based on the number of bubbles. The rate of oxygen that is consumed by the bacteria represents the rate of BOD that is removed from the system.

By using respirometry, EBS can simulate the growth pressures of your wastewater treatment system and determine the best ratio of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and bioaugmentation product, commonly referred as “bugs,” to meet your wastewater treatment plant’s needs. Concurrently, respirometry can assess the impact that factors such as pH, temperature, toxic compounds, and hard-to-degrade substances have on BOD removal. We can also measure the impact that a new product being made in a manufacturing process or the impact a toxic event may have on the biological population of the WWTP. This allows the environmental team to proactively monitor the system as events unfold and react accordingly.

EBS utilizes two separate respirometry units containing 16 cells each. This allows us to run a control plus 15 to 31 different variations of wastewater, nutrients, bioaugmentation products, and/or toxic compounds. Although respirometry is not a direct process simulation, it is an excellent way to isolate the impact of variables under controlled conditions. Utilizing this data, EBS can produce an economical plan to limit costs while optimizing your system. Using the proper product, amount, and/or ratio of products while optimizing a growth pressure such as dissolved oxygen can make a wastewater treatment system run more effective and efficient. This saves a plant money while further reducing BOD levels.

For more information on respirometry and how your plant can take advantage of this tool to optimize your wastewater treatment plant, please call EBS at 985-674-0660 or contact us.