Control of Active Biomass in Biological Wastewater Treatment Systems Through New Generation of ATP-Methods: Improving  Effluent Toxicity Monitoring and Optimisation of Performances in Bioreactors

Delporte, C.1, Todorova, V.2 and Raymond, M.2, 1Ondeo Industrial Solutions, 2Aqua-tools, France


Control tests for monitoring wastewater treatment plants are performed on daily basis by the operators,
concerned by the obligation to respect the strict European regulation regarding waste water effluents.
Biological monitoring is based on parameters such as Mixed Liquor Suspended Solids (MLSS), measuring
the total solids contained in the bioreactor, and the Mixed Liquor Volatile Suspended Solids (MLVSS),
measuring the total microorganisms’ compound, regardless to the fact if it is dead or alive. However, only
living and active biomass is important for degrading organic pollution and there is a lack today of
operational tools allowing direct measurement of active biomass in the bioreactors.
A new pilot bioreactor has been installed in a chemical plant in order to study the possible optimization of
the treatment processes. During this trial, a new generation of ATP-metry technique was used, in parallel
to classical parameters, for operating the performances of the bioreactor and monitoring toxicity of
industrial primary effluents.

This new technology is based on the Total Control Biological (TCBTM) kit, developed by LuminUltra
Technologies Ltd (Canada) and commercialized in Europe by Aqua-tools (France). This kit is measuring the
concentration and health of living biomass through the quantification of intracellular Adenosine
Triphosphate (ATP) molecule. Intracellular ATP is the energy stock of all living cell and is degraded within
minutes when released in the environment. The monitoring of ATP concentrations in waste water over
the time conducts to having a good alarm system for identifying degradation of the operation conditions
of the installation and the presence of toxicity in the primary influent. The tests take 15 min to be
performed in field conditions.

This new tool was used for following the pilot installation over two months period. The pilot installation
was composed by a primary treatment followed by an activated sludge bioreactor and a clarifier at the

During this period an investigation of the toxicity linked to the products manufactured by the company
was implemented. An intensive monitoring program with analysis three times per week on different
points of the pilot installation was lead. The possibility to have an early detection of toxicity present in the
primary influent and its effect on the active biomass was studied. Collected data will allow the
establishment of a data base for monitoring further the installation. 

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