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Qualitative analysis of activated sludge using FT-IR technique

Michał Kowalski, Katarzyna Kowalska, Jarosław Wiszniowski, and Jolanta Turek-Szytow

Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland



Abstract: The ability to measure and control the composition of activated sludge is an important issue, aiming at evaluating the effectiveness of changes occurring in the sludge, what determines its usefulness to treat wastewater. In this research, diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform (FTIR–DRIFT) technique was used, which relies on measuring the reflectance of the powdered substance’s surface layer and capturing spectra in range of infrared wave. First, spectra correlation table of the substances mostly occurring in wastewater was developed to assess the main components of the tested samples of activated sludge. The simplest compounds containing functional groups characteristic for particular chemical classes were chosen: peptides (peptone and albumin), fats (glycerin and fatty acids), carbohydrates (glucose and sucrose), nitrogen compounds (NaNO3 and NH4SO4), sulfur compounds (Na2SO4 and Na2S2O3), silicate, etc. The spectra of those substances were captured and characteristic absorption bands for respective bonds in the function groups were assigned. Second, samples of activated sludge from lab-scale membrane bioreactors (MBRs), which purifies petroleum wastewater, were taken. Samples were properly prepared (lyophilization and homogenization) and their spectra were captured. During spectra analysis, previously developed correlation table was used. In obtained spectra of activated sludge, absorption bonds characteristic for amides, peptides, carbohydrates, fats, and aliphatic was identified. The spectra profile of the sludge sample from MBR feed with petroleum wastewater was slightly different from the control MBR sample’s spectra. Intensity of bands in the area characteristic for aliphatic compounds and phenols was clearly higher. This study proves the usefulness of FT-IR technique to observe changes in the chemical composition of activated sludge.

Keywords: FT-IR ; Spectral analysis ; Wastewater treatment ; Activated sludge ; Petroleum compounds 

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-018-0514-7


Chemical Papers 72 (11) 2699–2706 (2018)

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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