Wastewater contains various organic components with different physical and biochemical characteristics. ASM No. 1 distinguishes two categories of biodegradable organic matter in wastewater, rapidly and slowly biodegradable. In general there are two methods for wastewater characterization: based on filtration in combination with a long-term BOD test or based on a respirogram. By comparing both approaches, we showed that in wastewater three categories of organic compounds with different biodegradation rates can be distinguished. These categories are referred to as readily biodegradable, rapidly hydrolysable and slowly hydrolysable organic matter. The total biodegradable COD can be found from a long-term BOD-test combined with a curve-fit and the readily biodegradable and rapidly hydrolysable from a respirogram. The slowly hydrolysable is the difference between total biodegradable COD and the sum of readily biodegradable and rapidly hydrolysable COD. Simulation with characterization based on filtration for a pre-anoxic reactor with a certain N-removal compared with the N-removal of the same plant with wastewater according to the modified characterization shows different results of each wastewater, especially with regard to the effluent nitrate concentration.

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