Process Description

The extended-aeration process (see Figure 7.21.4) is a modification of the conventional activated-sludge process. It is commonly used to treat the wastewater generated from small installations (e.g., schools, resorts, and trailer parks) as well as small and rural communities.

In extended aeration activated-sludge detention time is increased by a factor of four or five compared to conventional activated sludge. A final settling of 4 hr is typical at a surface settling rate of 350 to 700 gpd per sq ft. The main advantage of the extended-aeration process is that the amount of excess biological solids (sludge) produced is eliminated or minimized. Wastewater treatment facilities minimize this amount by operating the process in the endogenous respiration phase with the SRT maintained in the range of 20-60 days. As a result, the cost incurred with sludge disposal is reduced.

The extended-aeration process is further simplified since only preliminary influent wastewater treatment is required to remove coarse materials; the primary clarifier is eliminated. However, the size of the aeration basin is much larger than that of the conventional activated-sludge process. This larger basin accommodates a longer LRT in the aeration basin (i.e., 16-36 hr). The effluent produced is generally low in BOD and well nitrified (Ramalho 1983). An operational problem related to nitrification is a drop in pH which treatment facilities can correct by adding lime slurry to the aeration basin.

Although the amount of excess sludge in the extended-aeration process is significantly reduced, secondary clarification is needed to remove the accumulated non-biodegradable portion of sludge and the influent solids that are not degraded or removed. The design of secondary clarifiers is discussed in Section 7.29.

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