The hydrolysis process of slowly biodegradable substrate (XS) has an impact on the efficiencies of nutrient removal in activated sludge systems. Measurement of oxygen utilization rates (OURs) and corresponding chemical oxygen demand (COD) is accepted as a very useful tool to reflect the consumption of biodegradable substrates. The influence of the SS fraction in biological wastewater treatment systems has been extensively investigated, but little information is known about the effects of XS on OUR. The aim of this study was to determine the immediate effects of particulate and colloidal (XS) biodegradable compounds on oxygen utilization for a full-scale process mixed liquor from a large wastewater treatment plant located in northern Poland. Since it is difficult to distinguish XS in a direct way, a novel procedure, based on the standard batch tests, was developed and run in parallel reactors with settled wastewater (SWW) and pretreated SWW samples. Two types of aerobic OUR experiments with low and high substrate/biomass (S0/X0 ratio) concentration, were carried out with the SWW without pretreatment, and pretreated with a coagulation–flocculation (C–F) method. The removal of colloidal and particulate fractions by C–F resulted in reduced process rates. The major discrepancy in the rate reductions (over 300% referred to the OURmax) was observed during the OUR batch test with high S0/X0 ratio.

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