It is often only at the operation stage of a wastewater treatment plant that there is a need to adjust the treatment process in terms of variable hydraulic capacity, increased pollutant load, high/low concentration of suspended biomass, or the unfavorable phenomenon of reduced sedimentation capacity of the activated sludge. One of the ways to improve the treatment process efficiency is to increase the biologically active surface by using bio-carriers in the form of fibers, materials, or bio-balls. This paper presents the results of a wastewater treatment plant operation during the period of six months after the implementation of the integrated fixed-film activated sludge (IFAS) technology. The research showed that microorganisms developed both in the activated sludge and on the fibers, positively influencing the activated sludge condition. During the start-up of the IFAS process, ciliates predominated over the other species. However, as oxygen content was high (2 mg/dm3
and more) and textile beds were used, the protozoan population developed intensively, and small metazoans became increasingly common. Throughout the research period, nitrifying and phosphorus-accumulating bacteria were observed both in the activated sludge and on the fibers. Between the 59th and 184th day of operation, numerous microorganisms were detected on the fibers and in the activated sludge, testifying to low biological oxygen demand, good aerobic conditions for nitrification, and long sludge age. However, the process seemed to break down after day 72, when the occurrence of metazoan led to reduced sludge production; after day 88, chemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids in the outflow increased, and oligochaetes and rotifers dominated the suspended sludge and fibers. Results also showed that the textile bed and low ammonia concentration became an excellent substrate for the development of Stentor
sp. With regard to chemical and biological oxygen demand, total nitrogen- and total phosphorus-effluent concentrations were mostly within the legally permissible limits throughout the 184 days of operation.
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