It is widely assumed that non-aerated selectors are very efficient in nutrient removal, and especially anaerobic basins may largely contribute to good sludge settleability as well. However, based on results measured in full-scale, this paper draws attention to the fact that with decreasing availability of readily biodegradable carbon source (rbCOD) being experienced worldwide, oxygen penetration into non-aerated basins through the uncovered surface may no longer be considered negligible. When the oxygen mass transfer is significant compared to the available influent rbCOD, non-aerated selectors should be regarded as basins with low dissolved oxygen (low DO) concentrations that may underperform with respect to nutrient removal and favor the growth of filaments, especially during low-loaded conditions. In order to fully exclude oxygen penetration, floating seals have been developed and applied at the North-Budapest Wastewater Treatment Plant in Hungary. Comparative full-scale studies showed prevention of significant amounts of influent rbCOD loss (up to 60 mg/L) through the application of this new technology. This amount of saved, non-oxidised but fermented carbon source could be accordingly used for enhancing biological P-removal. Due to the elimination of microaerophilic conditions, the undesirable growth of filamentous bacteria could also be avoided, leading to significantly better activated sludge settling.

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