Achieving energy neutrality has shifted focus towards aeration system optimization, due to the high energy consumption of aeration processes in modern advanced wastewater treatment plants. A study on fine bubble diffuser fouling and mitigation, quantified by dynamic wet pressure (DWP), oxygen transfer efficiency and alpha was carried out in Blue Plains, Washington, DC. Four polyurethane fine bubble diffusers were installed in a pilot reactor column fed with high rate activated sludge from a full scale system. A mechanical cleaning method, reverse flexing (RF), was used to treat two diffusers (RF1, RF2), while two diffusers were kept as a control (i.e., no reverse flexing). There was a 45% increase in DWP of the control diffuser after 17 months of operation, an indication of fouling. RF treated diffusers (RF1 and RF2) did not show significant increase in DWP, and in comparison to the control diffuser prevented about 35% increase in DWP. Hence, reverse flexing potentially saves blower energy, by reducing the pressure burden on the air blower which increases blower energy requirement. However, no significant impact of the RF treatment in preventing a decrease in alpha-fouling (αF) of the fine pore diffusers, over time in operation was observed.

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