This study deals with formic acid removal in activated sludge processes, in particular in the processes carried out in sequencing batch reactors (SBRs). Formic acid removal has been investigated in a SBR fed with acetic and formic acids at equimolar concentrations. Biomass performance in the reactor has been investigated both by the analysis of the removal of the two substrates and by batch tests. Regarding SBR process, the obtained results show that a relevant difference occurred between formic and acetic acid profiles. Acetic acid was never found in the effluent and was always completely removed during the reaction phase. On the other hand, formic acid removal was determined by biomass acclimation, which is in turn determined by sludge age imposed to the system. Batch tests confirmed that formic acid removal occurs only if biomass is acclimated. It has been shown that the minimal sludge age to obtain complete formic acid removal is much higher than those predictable with the classical models of microbial growth in wastewater treatment processes. The advantages of SBRs over continuous-flow systems in the removal of formic acid have also been highlighted.

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