In order to develop a process control scheme to reduce energy costs for aeration in activated sludge systems with biological P removal, pre-denitrification and nitrification stages, the spatial distribution of carbon oxidation and nitrification was evaluated over a long full-scale plug flow aeration basin using an externally measured specific oxygen uptake rate (sOUR) and in basin measurement of the actual specific oxygen transfer rate (sOTR) with off-gas testing as well as with the calculated oxygen demand from NH4-N concentrations (sOTR(N)). Using a simple static model, a gas phase balance on oxygen and carbon dioxide, sOTR(N) values were also calculated from off-gas testing. Comparison of sOTR(N) to sOTR and sOUR for carbon oxidation (sOUR(C)) to nitrification (sOUR(N)) at different loading conditions allowed the oxidation processes to be followed over the three zones of the aeration basin. As expected, the distribution depended on the dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) in the basin. However, the major change was in the C-oxidation rate and not the nitrification rate. At a low DO, and when NH4-N was present in the zone, the amount of oxygen transferred for nitrification was nearly the same, but the overall sOTR was lower. The externally measured sOUR was only useful when it was differentiated into sOUR(N) and sOUR(C). sOUR(N) could be used to predict the nitrification rate in the basin. With further refinement, the gas phase balance model has potential to be used to monitor the degree of nitrification over the basin length. This can be integrated into a control scheme to reduce aeration costs by adjusting the DO setpoint according to loading conditions in the basin.

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