Conventional two stage activated sludge plants often lack sufficient nutrient removal performance due to substrate limitation for denitrification in the second stage. For the extension of the Vienna Main WWTP a two stage concept has been developed and tested by means of a pilot plant (scale 1:10.000). The new concept enables the operation of two different modes: In BYPASS-mode a portion of the primary clarifier effluent is fed directly to the second stage; the HYBRID-mode includes the exchange of mixed liquor between the two stages; over the course of the pilot plant investigations it turned out that nutrient removal is strongly increased in comparison to conventional two stage mode, but the two modes of operation lead to different results with regard to the sludge quality and the nitrification performance. BYPASS mode yields a higher SVI in both stages and a lower nitrification performance in comparison to HYBRID mode. This is caused by the negative influence of the primary effluent on the biocoenosis of the second stage. Additionally, the reduced sludge loading of the first stage in this mode results in a higher sludge age which favours the growth of filaments (Microthrix and Nocardia). In HYBRID-mode the higher load of the first stage results in a lower sludge age, fatty components are metabolized and incorporated in the sludge, thus, the growth of filaments is significantly reduced. Additionally, nitrification inhibiting substances are degraded in the first stage, which results in a higher nitrification performance in the second stage.

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