Aeration is an energy-intensive process of aerobic biological treatment in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). Two-stage processes enable energy-efficient operation, but oxygen transfer has not been studied in depth before. In this study, α-factors were determined with long-term ex situ steady-state off-gas measurements in pilot-scale test reactors (5.8 m height, 8.3 m3
) coupled to full-scale activated sludge basins. A two-stage WWTP with more than 1 Mio population equivalent was studied over 13 months including rain and dry weather conditions. Operating data, surfactant concentrations throughout the two-stage process, and the effect of reverse flexing on pressure loss of diffusers were examined. The values of αmean
, and αmax
for design load cases of aeration systems were determined as 0.45, 0.33, and 0.54 in the first high-rate carbon removal stage and as 0.80, 0.69, and 0.91 in the second nitrification stage, respectively. The first stage is characterized by a distinct diurnal variation and decrease in α-factor during stormwater treatment. Surfactants and the majority of the total organic carbon (TOC) load are effectively removed in the first stage; hence, α-factors in the second stage are higher and have a more consistent diurnal pattern. Proposed α-factors enable more accurate aeration system design of two-stage WWTPs. Fouling-induced diffuser pressure loss can be restored effectively with reverse flexing in both treatment stages.
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