Pilot plant experiments have been carried out to study the mineralization of sludge from biological wastewater treatment plants by worms such as Tubificidae. Trickling filters filled with lava slags were continuously fed with a certain quantity of excess activated sludge of a Dutch brewery wastewater treatment plant (Bavaria) by recirculation during 10 to 14 days. At the starting point of each experiment the trickling filters were inoculated with Tubificidae. Recirculation of sludge showed that use of Tubificidae resulted in a COD reduction of the sludge (mixed liquor) of 18–67–. Without worms this reduction was substantially lower. The sludge production in a pilot activated sludge system for treating settled domestic wastewater reduced from 0.40 to 0.15 g MLSS/g COD removed when Tubificidae were added to the system. The lower amounts of sludge were always accompanied by an increase of nitrate and phosphate concentration in the wastewater. There was no disturbance of the nitrification process. Application of Tubificidae or other worms may have interesting potential for practical application.

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