Activated Sludge: operate, optimise & design to achieve phosphorus, nitrogen & carbon removal

8th - 9th November 2022, The Studio, Leeds


This is the most in depth activated sludge training course that we offer.  In a face-to-face environment and with capped numbers (maximum of 12 attendees) you will receive the personal touch and leave this course with an experience that will help you operate, optimise, design activated sludge plants for carbon (BOD/COD), nitrogen and phosphorus removal.

The size of your aerobic, anoxic and anaerobic zones matters.  The nature and variability of the wastewater affects everything.  How the micro-organisms react influences settlement rates and the potential for foaming and poor settlement.  And this is where metagenomics now also comes in.  Together we’ll explore all of this and leave with the knowledge on how to select the right micro-organisms to achieve compliance at least cost.

We will cover in detail the concepts and application of sludge age and food: mass but so much more including sizing and optimising aeration systems, zones, final tanks, kinetic and metabolic selectors, why/how to ferment RAS/sewage to achieve Bio-P removal, incorporating chemical dosing to achieve tight consents, accounting for the variability introduced by return liquors and more.

Don’t worry, this will all be presented in an accessible, easy to follow format, that’s what I do!

Yes, we’ll use a calculator, but it’s your choice if you wish to follow the learnings and come away with a broader, rich understanding.  But equally you can bring your laptop if you like and leave with operational and design calculators in excel that will help you progress in your activated sludge journey for years to come.


It is a common aim for water companies and businesses operating wastewater treatment plants to deliver compliance at least cost and increasingly with net zero in mind.   For any site, there will be a balance to achieve between resources consumed to meet the wastewater standard and the quantity and type of sludge produced.  The knowledge and experience to be able to achieve this balance is sought after and valued.  To be able to identify and resolve plant bottlenecks the rounded scientist will be able to unpick the original design of a plant, evaluate how close current performance is to design, what capacity is/is not available and clearly present the gaps and opportunities to any audience.  We are now operating in an era where environmental standards are tighter than ever.  At the microbiological level there is conflict and competition between the organisms that remove carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.  It is our role to understand and manage these inter-relationships, all keeping in mind compliance at least cost and this is the aim of this course.


  • Understanding wastewater, characteristics, ratios, flow and composition
  • Use one simple equation to size a plant for removing BOD/COD and ammonia
  • Add in the aeration system and understand how to evaluate its efficiency
  • Put in a kinetic selector for good settlement, add a metabolic selector for nitrate removal
  • Size the final sedimentation tanks
  • Understand and control redox to drive C, N & P removal and look at the emerging knowledge and links with metagenomics and net zero
  • Optimise using sludge age control
  • Filamentous bulking and the role of microscopic analysis of activated sludge
  • Optimising final sedimentation tanks
  • Incorporate chemical dosing to achieve a very low P consent

Worked examples and case studies are used throughout and attendees are welcome to bring their own challenges and data.

Who should attend?

Whether or not you have attended previous courses with us online or not this course could be for you.  For those who have completed the one-day online course (Optimising activated sludge plants), this is the next level course that I spoke to you about.  And for those of you new to our training courses, this is the complete experience in activated sludge.  Whether you’re looking to optimise for compliance at least cost, you have an operational challenge such as filamentous bulking & foaming, this course covers it all.

As such the course has wide appeal being highly relevant to operational teams, process scientists, designers and managers looking to upskill and optimise, technology providers seeking to understand where products fit in the market, researchers and innovators wishing to understand the latest challenges facing the water industry and anyone interested in understanding the UK market and investment drivers.

Why invest in Activated Sludge Training?

Activated sludge is and will continue to be the main technology employed to treat wastewaters on medium and large works for the next 20-50 years.  It is the main energy consumer on most sites and the waste sludge produced feeds anaerobic digesters.  It is a necessary by-product of removing carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater.  As such activated sludge merits our attention and focus.  It is an area that is incredibly well understood, has seen many innovations over the years and will need many more if we are to achieve goals for net zero and compliance at least cost.  It takes years to gain the knowledge, experience and confidence to drive improvements.

We hope that this course will accelerate you and your business towards activated sludge nirvana.

Click HERE to book your place


The 2-day training course will be delivered face-to-face at the Studio in Leeds.

Fee: £775 (+VAT) per person (includes slides presented).

Trainer Profile

Matthew Smyth  BSc, MRes, MBA, MCIWEM CSci CWEM, Technical Director, Aqua Enviro

Matt has been in wastewater and sludge for twenty years and works with water companies, industry and waste producers to develop and implement solutions.  He has delivered courses in wastewater, activated sludge and anaerobic digestion to thousands in the industry over the past 15 years.

In the late 1990’s he began his career working on pilot and full-scale Sequencing Batch Reactors, developing, then commissioning carbonaceous and nitrification control strategies, that have been widely adopted in plants in the UK and Ireland.  Over the past decade and with rising energy costs the focus has centred on compliance at least cost, but now carbon emissions must also be factored in.  The principles of activated sludge are also applied to certain liquor treatment plant configurations whilst others exploit different treatment pathway.  We are also witnessing innovation in this established area of treatment with exciting opportunities coming to light to understand and implement metagenomics to drive down treatment costs, help on the journey of net zero and maintain consent.

Matt presents and publishes regularly at industry recognized conferences including Aqua Enviro’s European Biosolids & Bioresources and European Wastewater Management Conferences.

Outside of training Matt contributes to Aqua Enviro’s Technical Team, providing input and steering to projects and to develop our team of process scientists.  His continued exposure to a wide range of investigative, challenging and solution orientated projects is brought into training to ensure that the material presented is current and relevant.

Please contact to go on the list for this course or for any booking queries.

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Cost per person
£775 (ex. 20% VAT)

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