This paper aims at clarifying the effect of ozone on the RAS solids to model activated sludge systems equipped with RAS-ozonation processes for the reduction of sludge production. A common hypothesis is that ozone only affects active biomass by promoting cryptic growth. Data from a pilot-scale study were used to test this and two other model extensions to IWA-ASM3. All model extensions were able to simulate the observed linear reduction in sludge production with increasing ozone dose when the MLVSS are kept constant. However, model simulations showed the inconsistency of the cryptic growth hypothesis with the extent of sludge reduction. The second tested model extensions assumes that ozone affects all the solids fractions (active biomass, endogenous residue, and influent inert particulate COD) equally. This extension could properly simulate the observed sludge reduction, but it failed to predict the trends in effluent BOD5, ATP/VSS, and nitrification rates. A third tested model extension, which performed better, assumes that biomass is inactivated at a specific rate higher than the specific rate of transformation by ozone of the other solids fractions. Finally, the predictions from this model extension were most accurate if either (i) the nitrifiers were inactivated at a lower rate then heterotrophs, (ii) the nitrifiers model parameters (e.g., maximum growth rate) were changed under ozone (i.e., metabolic adaptation, (iii) or both.

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