Pilot Control of Viscous Bulking in the Activated Sludge Treatment of Industrial Effluent from Soft Drink Plants

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Faculty Member, Treatment and Recovery Unit, Industrial and Environmental Protection Research Center, Oil Industry Research Institute

2 Researcher, Treatment and Recovery Unit, Industrial and Environmental Protection Research Center, Oil Industry Research Institute


Viscous bulking is a typical problem arising in activated sludge facilities treating effluent from soft drink plants. The drawbacks associated with this phenomenon include increased effluent organic loading and undesirable sludge settlement. In order to investigate this phenomenon, a soft drink factory was selected as a pilot plant for a case study (where metal tanks were used as a biological selector, an aeration basin, and a clarifier). The study shows that the major causes of viscous bulking are high organic loading and undesirable ratio of monovalent to divalent cations. In the biological selector (with a retention time of 20 hours), while the organic load in the influent to the aeration basin decreased by about 50%, with an impact on reduced viscous bulking, pH value decreased from 12 to 6.5 due to fatty acids production. Adjustment of Na/Ca ratio improved bacterial surface hydrophobicity and prevented degradation of biological flocs. This resulted in improved sludge settleability. Application of this method improved sludge settling, made flocs stronger, and reduced effluent organic load (COD) to less than 150 mg/l, indicating stability of the system.


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