Chemical treatment of sewage water is today often considered as a method for phosphorus reduction and used in combination with biological treatment. The experience in Scandinavia, however, shows that chemical treatment alone gives beside a good phosphorus removal also a high BOD reduction. Due to the very low investment cost for such a process it has been adapted in Scandinavia as an alternative to biological treatment. Where the demand is for greater sewage treatment the most feasible method is to complement the chemical precipitation process with a compact biological treatment.

In Sweden the dominating post (and also the simultaneous) precipitation process has in many plants been replaced by a chemical pre-treatment process, because with pre-precipitation most of the organic matter is coagulated and extracted already in the primary clarifier. The energy demand in the biological process will decrease. The organic matter in the sludge will increase, which in an anaerobic digester means more digester gas.

The unloading pre-precipitation effect can also give advantages for nitrification. The important BOD/TKN ratio is decreased. It is possible to build up a high sludge age and to upgrade a plant without tank expansion to a nitrifying plant. Pre-precipitation is normally not influencing the readily degradable BOD, which is about 25% of the total BOD and therefore a perfect electron donor for pre-denitri-fication is still available.

The pre-precipitated sludge contains 75% of the organic matter in the sewage and can by hydrolysis be converted to readily degradable organic matter, which presents a valuable carbon source for the denitrification process. The hydrolysation process can be performed by, for instance, anaerobic treatment or heat treatment. This paper will review experiences from full-scale applications as well as pilot plant and laboratory studies.

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