Laboratory activated sludge reactors were operated on effluent wastewater from a kraft mill. Two of the three reactors were initially preceded with a “normal” size aerated selector, 2% of the total aerated volume, with unsatisfactory sludge volume index development. When the selectors were replaced by larger ones, 13% of the aerated volume, the sludge volume index could be kept below 50 ml/g for the selector processes while continuing to be higher and more unstable in the reference process.
A pilot plant, operated in situ on the same wastewater, showed a comparable improvement in sludge volume index when its selector, 7% of the total volume, was replaced by one that constituted 13% of the total volume, corresponding to a selector load of 3 g BOD / g VSS * d.
According to studies of the COD balance around one bench scale selector, the COD removal mechanism in the selector was respiration/assimilation rather than uptake/storage.