The recent availability of commercial electronic nose instruments for odour detection may offer a rapid and relatively simple technique for monitoring wastewater odours. Results have been reported that for sewage odours from a single source a robust relationship can be found between the responses patterns of a sensor array (consisting of 12 conducting polymers) and their associated sewage odour concentrations. However, the initial application of this technology in the field of sewage treatment may not be for detecting nuisance odours but for wastewater monitoring and/or process control of a treatment works. A comparison between the odour profiles of sewage liquids and corresponding BOD, COD, TOC measurements has demonstrated the ability of a non-specific sensor array to detect changes in the organic content of a wastewater sample. Statistical analysis of the sensor response patterns with BOD value (for sewage samples from the inlet works, settlement tanks and the final effluent outlet) over a 5-month period, showed that for longer time periods the relationship between these parameters was essentially non-linear, but that over shorter time periods a linear relationship was evident. The findings showed that a number of different wastewater quality relationships could be formulated from the same electronic nose analysis of a sewage liquid. This suggests that the organic content of a wastewater, as well the potential of a wastewater to produce nuisance odours, could be predicted from a single headspace analysis of a sewage liquid using a sensor array.

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