Redox potential (ORP) regulation of nutrient removal in aeration tanks was tested for one year in three activated sludge wastewater treatment plants in Cincinnati, OH. The experiment results show a good relationship between ORP values and nutrient removal. Macro-biodegradation and sorption of substrate by activated sludge can significantly increase wastewater ORP, indicating the improvement of redox status of the bulk liquor. DO higher than 1.0 mg/L is necessary for good biodegradation and the improvement of liquid redox status. ORP values at higher temperatures (Twater=20–26°C) were lower than ORP values at lower temperatures (Twater=14–19°C), caused by the lower oxygen saturation capacity in wastewater and the more rapid oxygen consumption by microorganism under warmer conditions. Nitrification occurred at higher ORP values (380 mV) than did organic substrate oxidation (250mV). This verifies that different metabolic processes dominate in different ORP ranges. The pilot-scale experiment results demonstrate that the wastewater ORP values continued to increase throughout the whole 6-hour cycle when the influent COD was higher than 1,000 mg/L. For influent with low COD (40–120 mg/L), the wastewater ORP values did not increase in the second 3 hours of the cycle, during which time the microbial-biodegradation within the activated sludge floc dominated. High DO concentrations (6–8 mg/L) did not help improve the redox status. In fully-aerated wastewater, oxygen deeply penetrated into the activated sludge flocs, and microorganisms biodegraded the substrates within the flocs. Endogenous metabolism predominated.

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