This paper reports the results of a series of off-gas tests aimed at monitoring the evolution of the oxygen transfer efficiency in an urban wastewater treatment plant (3,500 population equivalent) located in Tuscany (Italy). The tests were conducted over a 2-year period starting with the testing of the aeration system. It was found that in the absence of membrane-panel cleaning operations, the oxygen transfer efficiency under standard conditions in process water (αSOTE) dropped from 18 to 9.5% in 2 years. This gives rise to a 40% increase in the wastewater treatment plant annual energy costs. The on-site chemical cleaning of the diffusers allowed for an almost total recovery of the transfer efficiency (αSOTE equal to 16%). The use of the off-gas method for monitoring the oxygen transfer efficiency over time is therefore essential for enabling correct planning of the cleaning operations of the diffusers and for cutting the energy consumption and operating costs of the aeration system.

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