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More Than You Wanted to Know About Activated Sludge

More Than You Wanted To Know About Activated Sludge

The very name conjures up visions of a dark, viscous goo that infiltrates every surface it settles upon – and that’s fairly close to accurate. Sludge is a kind of soft mud. It’s thick due to the mix of solid components, like the slimy mixture found at the bottom of a pond. Clearly, the substance lives up to the image its name portrays. 

While most won’t likely encounter sludge in your local park or backyard anytime soon, it’s important to note that activated sludge is a vital part of many communities. More specifically, activated sludge is actually beneficial, as it plays a part in many city wastewater treatment systems. 

Keeping Waterways Clean

To understand what, exactly, activated sludge really is, it’s crucial to understand how wastewater treatment keeps waterways clean. While many municipalities simply direct excess rainwater into storm sewers to be funneled back into local lakes and rivers, water that’s been used in either industrial or sanitation settings cannot be allowed to re-enter the system. Instead, it must go to a wastewater treatment facility.

Most wastewater treatment facilities utilize a multi-stage process. First, the water is screened to remove larger solid debris. Then, the water is pumped into a settling tank, where heavier particles settle to the bottom and lighter components like oils and plastics rise to the top, ready to be skimmed off. 

How Sludge Gets Activated

Next, the liquid is siphoned into aeration tanks for continued treatment. This stage of treatment involves the introduction of aerobic microorganisms that consume any organic matter left in the water, converting it into energy, carbon dioxide, and excess water. Since bacteria operate best in an oxygen-rich environment, the treatment plant injects the thick wastewater mixture with oxygen gas, ensuring the bacteria encounter plenty of oxygen and organic matter and forming what’s known as activated sludge. 

One of the most crucial calculations of this final stage of the treatment process involves careful regulation of the amount of air pumped into the wastewater. Either too much or too little air at any given time can severely inhibit the aerobic reaction happening within the sludge, which could result in the release of dirty water back into the environment. Worse, air pump systems can suffer leaks, blockages, and other issues that may result in the release of dirty water into the clean water supply, potentially risking human health. 

The ChemTec Difference

Liquid and gas flow monitors, like ChemTec’s series of LPH flow monitors, avoid these issues. These monitors utilize a magnetic piston that floats within the liquid stream. Sensors within the piston detect its position, which changes as flow increases or decreases. If the piston reaches a critical position, an alarm sounds, notifying technicians that abnormal flow conditions are present.


In this way, ChemTec LPH flow monitors help ensure only clean, safe water flows back into the environment. All monitors are engineered and manufactured on-site in ChemTec’s factory to ensure high quality. As a result, the lifespan of a ChemTec flow monitor is far superior to its mass-produced counterparts.

For more information about our innovative flow monitoring technology, please call 800-222-2177 or reach out via our online form and a product specialist will respond shortly.

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