Respirometric evaluation of biodegradation characteristics of dairy wastewater for organic carbon removal

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This study evaluates the biodegradation kinetics of an integrated dairy wastewater, with the main purpose of defining the experimental basis for modelling of the activated sludge process. Besides conventional characterization, the experiments involved detailed chemical oxygen demand (COD) fractionation and assessment of major kinetic and stoichiometric coefficients, by using respirometric methods. A multi-component model based on the endogenous decay concept was used for the kinetic interpretation. The results of conventional analyses and respirometric evaluations together with the assessment of residual components showed that the organic carbon content of the dairy wastewater was mostly soluble and biodegradable. The soluble, slowly biodegradable COD was the major COD fraction, representing around 50% of the total COD. Model calibration of the oxygen uptake rate profiles were consistent and revealed the existence of dual hydrolysis kinetics for soluble and particulate COD components. The hydrolysis rate associated with the main COD component - the soluble, slowly biodegradable COD fraction - was found to be 1.2 d-1, which is quite low and underlines the role of this COD fraction as the rate-limiting factor for effluent quality. Simulation of process efficiency by the adopted model, calibrated with the experimentally determined parameters, indicated that effective control of the biodegradation of the soluble biodegradable COD components could be done by selection of appropriate values for the sludge age and hydraulic retention time. In this way, the total effluent soluble COD level could be lowered to 30-40 mg L-1 range, in conformity with effluent limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1176
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Biodegradation
  • COD fractionation
  • Dairy wastewater
  • Modelling
  • Respirometry


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