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Math Solutions: Sludge Age Process

Control Calculations
By Daniel Theobald, "Wastewater Dan"

Wastewater Dan helps operators solve for sludge age and

optimize the activated sludge process using sample problems and
easy-to-use math templates to inform real-world calculations.
With credit to the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, which
explains sludge age quite nicely: Sludge age in the activated sludge process is
the measure of the length of time a particle of suspended solids has been
undergoing aeration. This time is expressed in days and is calculated using the
pounds of mixed liquor suspended solids (MLSS) in the aeration basin and the
pounds of total suspended solids (TSS) in the influent.
This tutorial provides the necessary calculations to optimize sludge age process
control, which will include sludge age itself, but also MLSS volumes (actual and
desired) and mixed liquor volatile suspended solids (MLVSS). The specific
examples shared below and their corresponding solutions act as templates for
operators or educators, engineers, regulators, etc. to perform accurate
wastewater calculations when substituting real values for the following word

Problem #1: If the desired sludge age is six days, calculate the desired MLSS
milligrams per liter (mg/L) concentration in the aerator and the desired MLSS
pounds (lbs) in the aerator. Primary clarifier effluent is 1,085 lbs TSS and
aeration tank volume is 0.350 million gallons (MG).
Calculate Desired MLSS lbs and MLSS mg/L
MLSS lbs in aeration:
MLSS mg/L in aeration:
Problem #2: Calculate the sludge age of an activated sludge system with an
aeration tank volume of 0.325 MG that treats a flow of 2.2 MGD. The primary
clarifier effluent has TSS concentration of 65 mg/L and aeration tank MLSS
concentration of 2,500 mg/L.
Calculate Sludge Age (Days)
MLSS lbs in aeration:
MLVSS lbs added to aeration:
Sludge age (days):
Playlist of 35-plus process control (including activated sludge)
Playlist of 40-plus pounds-wastewater calculations
Playlist of all 140-plus Math Solutions

This is the Sludge Age Process Control Calculations presentation in my series of

Math Solutions. If you have specific wastewater math queries, please submit
a question.
About Dan Theobald:
Known in the industry as Wastewater Dan, Daniel L. Theobald, proprietor of
Environmental Services (www.esdlt.com), is a professional wastewater and
safety consultant/trainer. He has more than 24 years of hands-on industry
experience operating many variants of wastewater treatment processing units
and is eager to share with others his knowledge about water conservation.
Theobald serves as an active consultant for industries looking to achieve and
maintain improved wastewater treatment at reduced cost. He is a Lifetime
Member of the Whos Who Registry of Professionals and holds numerous
certifications from wastewater management regulatory boards and
professional organizations. Theobald contributed one chapter to the Water
Environment Federations (www.wef.org) Manual of Practice # 37 (MOP-37),
a technical manual resource guide for biological nutrient removal, published
in 2013.
Image credit: "aeration 1" Jason Turgeon 2014 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic