Low-temperature inhibition of the activated sludge process by an industrial discharge containing the azo dye acid black 1

Document Type


Publication Date



A municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) receiving industrial dyeing discharge containing acid black 1 (AB1) failed to meet NH3 and BOD5 discharge limits, especially for NH3 during the winter. Dyeing discharge was combined with domestic sewage in volumetric ratios reflecting the range received by the WWTP and fed to sequencing batch reactors at 22 and 7°C. Analysis of the various nitrogen species revealed complete nitrification failure at 7°C with more rapid nitrification failure as the dye concentration increased. Slight nitrification inhibition occurred at 22°C: NH3 removal decreased from 99.9% for the control compared to only 97.0% removal with dye addition. Dye-bearing wastewater also reduced COD removal by half at 7°C and by one-fifth at 22°C, and increased effluent TSS nearly three-fold at 7°C. Activated sludge quality at 7°C deteriorated after exposure to AB1, as indicated by excessive foaming and the presence of filamentous bacteria and by a decrease in endogenous and exogenous oxygen uptake. Decreasing AB1 loading resulted in partial activated sludge recovery. Eliminating the dye-bearing discharge to the full-scale WWTP led to improved performance bringing the WWTP into compliance with discharge limits. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Water Research