Three operating strategies were tested for decreasing activated sludge deflocculation due to temperature shifts from 30° to 45°C: magnesium sludge enrichment, increased sludge retention time (33 d), and spikes of an easily degradable substrate (methanol). The temperature shifts were conducted sequentially in 4 parallel lab-scale sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) treating kraft pulp mill effluent. Three SBRs operated at an SRT = 20 days, and in one of them the sludge was not manipulated, thus, serving as a reference SBR. The temperature shift was associated with decreased soluble chemical oxygen demand (SCOD) removals, decreased sludge settleability and substrate removal capacity, and increased effluent suspended solids (ESS) and turbidity levels. The shift also increased the sludge specific respiration rates and reduced the sludge substrate removal capacity. Sludge deflocculation was assessed as floc solubilisation (increased effluent SCOD levels) and floc fragmentation (increase in effluent solids smaller than 50 mm). Mg enrichment of the sludge and methanol spikes reduced the ESS levels (in 9 and 25%), and the three operating strategies decreased effluent turbidity (in 22-35%) compared to the maximum levels from the non-manipulated reactor (44 mg ESS/L). The stronger sludge floc structure achieved by magnesium enrichment and a high sludge age of 33 days was unsuccessful in significantly decreasing deflocculation. The mechanisms involved in sludge deflocculation require further fundamental research.

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