Secondary settling dynamics at maximal capacity were investigated at a full scale wastewater treatment plant which utilizes a unique process solution incorporating pre-denitrification with postnitrification in nitrifying trickling filters. Since nitrogen removal is greater when more secondary effluent is recirculated to the trickling filters, the secondary settlers generally operate at close to their maximal capacity. The settling and flocculation properties of the activated sludge are therefore a major capacity-determining factor for plant operation. Due to the short sludge age, the flocculation properties, with respect to both thickening and clarification, can change quickly. The dynamics in these changes were studied and the factors that determine the maximal settling capacity were assessed. Solids flux curves were constructed from batch settling tests and compared with the actual maximal settling capacities.

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