The effect of longitudinal mixing on nitrification was evaluated in two bench scale activated sludge reactors of equal volume, one approximating complete mixing (∂ = 0.62) and one approximating plug-flow mixing (∂ = 0.07). The onset of nitrification was more rapid under plug-flow conditions and a higher rate constant for nitrification was observed. Both the numbers and species of nitrifying bacteria were the same in both reactors and thus this did not contribute to the observed differences. Lower reaction rates in the complete mix reactor were shown to result from a high concentration of free ammonia in the mixed liquor, which gave rise to inhibition of nitrifying bacteria. Over an extended operating period, the plug flow reactor produced a sludge which demonstrated superior settling properties to that of the complete mix reactor. In addition incidences of sludge bulking were absent, whereas they were a regular feature of the complete mix system. © 1991.
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