The ecology of percolating filters containing a plastic filter medium in relation to their efficiency in The treatment of domestic sewage

  • Andrew D. Wheatley

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The suitability of a new plastic supporting medium for biofiltration was tested over a three year period. Tests were carried out on the stability, surface properties, mechanical strength, and dimensions of the medium. There was no evidence to suggest that the medium was deficient in any of these respects. The specific surface (320m2m-3) and the voidage (94%) of the new medium are unlike any other used in bio-filtration and a pilot plant containing two filters was built to observe its effects on ecology and performance. Performance was estimated by chemical analysis and ecology studied by film examination and fauna counts. A system of removable sampling baskets was designed to enable samples to be obtained from two intermediate depths of filter. One of the major operating problems of percolating filters is excessive accumulation of film. The amount of film is influenced by hydraulic and organic load and each filter was run at a different loading. One was operated at 1.2m3m-3day-1 (DOD load 0.24kgm-3day-1) judged at the time to be the lowest filtration rate to offer advantages over conventional media. The other filter was operated at more than twice this loading (2.4m3m-3day-lBOD load 0.55kgm-3day-1) giving a roughly 2.5x and 6x the conventional loadings recommended for a Royal Commission effluent. The amount of film in each filter was normally low (0.05-3kgm(3 as volatile solids) and did not affect efficiency. The evidence collected during the study indicated that the ecology of the filters was normal when compared with the data obtained from the literature relating to filters with mineral media. There were indications that full ecological stability was yet to be reached and this was affecting the efficiency of the filters. The lower rate filter produced an average 87% BOD removal giving a consistent Royal Commission effluent during the summer months. The higher rate filter produced a mean 83% BOD removal but at no stage a consistent Royal Commission effluent. From the data on ecology and performance the filters resembled conventional filters rather than high rate filters.
Date of Award1976
Original languageEnglish


  • ecology
  • percolating filters
  • plastic filter medium
  • efficiency
  • treatment
  • domestic sewage

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