A pilot-scale activated sludge wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operated with nitrification and pre-denitrification was monitored with a set of on-line sensors for over 3 years. Wet-chemistry ex-situ analyzers, UV and UV-Visible in-situ sensors and in-situ sensors based on ion-selective electrodes (ISE) were used. New ISE sensors for ammonium, nitrate and nitrite, adapted to water and wastewater matrices, have been released in recent years, With adequate quality control they proved to be highly accurate and reliable in WWTP influents and activated sludge (AS) reactors even at the end of the biological treatment zone, working at low ammonium concentrations (1–2 mgN/l). The ammonium measurement was used to test several feed-forward and feed-back aeration control strategies. The first aim was to keep inorganic nitrogen compounds, i.e. ammonium, nitrate and particularly nitrite, as low as possible in the effluent, and within Swiss national standards (<2.0 mgNH4-N/l, <0.3 mgNO2-N/l, 24 h average). All the strategies were successful at keeping ammonium low and subsequently at gaining denitrification capacity to significantly reduce the total nitrogen discharge. Some control strategies however generated temporary peaks of ammonium or even accumulation of nitrite.

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