Several studies show that a more detailed characterisation of the particulate matter in municipal wastewater gives a better understanding and prediction of removal efficiencies of physical-chemical treatment techniques and the application of optimal chemical dosages. Such a characterisation should include the distribution of contaminants over various particle sizes. This article describes a method and results of experimental and full-scale investigations, conducted to determine how contaminants in wastewater are distributed over different particle sizes. For this purpose, particle size fractionations of wastewater influents originating from more than thirteen WWTP were carried out. One of these fractionations (WWTP Venray) is shown and interpreted in this article. First, the wastewaters were fractionated into 5 to 6 particle fractions (45, 5.0, 1.0/1.2, 0.45 and 0.1 μm) after which the fractions were analyzed for various water quality parameters like organic components, nutrients, salts, solids and turbidity. Based on the results the effects of removal of the different size fractions on design of the biological treatment and energy balance of a wastewater treatment plant can be assessed. The method also indicates whether a certain wastewater is efficiently treatable with physical-chemical pre-treatment methods. It is concluded wastewater fractionation on particle size is very useful, but that wastewater characteristics and particle size distributions should not be generalised, but have to be interpreted as indications for a certain average wastewater composition. To give more insight into the distribution of contaminants over particle size and the particle removal potential, a specific wastewater fractionation has to be carried out per WWTP.

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