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Why is Aeration Important for Wastewater Treatment?

Why is Aeration Important for Wastewater Treatment?

How aeration works in the treatment of wastewater

Wastewater aeration is the process of adding air into wastewater to allow aerobic bio-degradation of the pollutant components. It is an integral part of most biological wastewater treatment systems. Unlike chemical treatment which uses chemicals to react and stabilize contaminants in the wastewater stream, biological treatment uses microorganisms that occur naturally in wastewater to degrade wastewater contaminants.

When is Aeration Used?
In municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, aeration is part of the stage known as the secondary treatment process. The activated sludge process is the most common option in secondary treatment. Aeration in an activated sludge process is based on pumping air into a tank, which promotes the microbial growth in the wastewater. The microbes feed on the organic material, forming flocks which can easily settle out. After settling in a separate settling tank, bacteria forming the "activated sludge" flocks are continually recirculated back to the aeration basin to increase the rate of decomposition.

How does Aeration Work?
Aeration provides oxygen to bacteria for treating and stabilizing the wastewater. Oxygen is needed by the bacteria to allow biodegradation to occur. The supplied oxygen is utilised by bacteria in the wastewater to break down the organic matter containing carbon to form carbon dioxide and water. Without the presence of sufficient oxygen, bacteria are not able to biodegrade the incoming organic matter in a reasonable time.