Activated sludge treatment breaks down organic contaminants in aqueous waste streams through aerobic microorganisms' activity. These microorganisms metabolize biodegradable organics. This treatment includes conventional activated sludge processes and modifications such as sequencing batch reactors. The aeration process includes pumping the waste to an aeration tank where biological treatment occurs. Following this, the stream is sent to a clarifier where the liquid effluent (the treated aqueous waste) is separated from the sludge biomass (Figure 11.17.1). Aerobic processes can significantly reduce a wide range of organic, toxic and hazardous compounds. However, only dilute aqueous wastes (less than 1%) are normally treatable.

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